Martyn Bond, a former foreign correspondent specialising in European affairs, will speak about Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, better known on the Continent than in Britain. Few anywhere know that the man whom Hitler damned in Mein Kampf as a ‘cosmopolitan bastard’ travelled on a Czechoslovak diplomatic passport for twenty years between the two World Wars.
As a young intellectual politicised by the Great War, the Count sent President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk one of his early political articles arguing for better understanding between Czech and German speakers in the new republic. In September he went to see him in Prague and explained to the President his bigger plan for a peaceful union of all the nations of Europe in Pan-Europa, a forerunner of today’s European Union.
The Count was an early pioneer of European unity and played an important role in the history of Central Europe but, given his and his family’s German-Bohemian background, is still underrated in the Czech Republic. His work in the movement for a united Europe deserves to be re-evaluated.
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