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Coudenhove-Kalergi, Heinrich von°


COUDENHOVE-KALERGI, HEINRICH VON ° (1859–1906), Austrian diplomat, philosopher, and author. He professed to having been an antisemite in his youth, but during a sojourn in Turkey and Japan became interested in Oriental religions and consequently in the Jewish legacy. Among 26 languages he knew Hebrew, which he acquired from the rabbi of Pobezovice (Ronsperg). Jewish scholars, among them Armand Aharon *Kaminka, were frequently guests at his castle. A practicing Roman Catholic, he used to leave mass demonstratively on Good Friday at the prayer for "perfidious Jews." In 1901 he published Das Wesen des Anti-semitismus (Eng. ed. 1935, Anti-semitism throughout the Ages), one of the most successful non-literary anti-antisemitic works of the 20th century. In this book he expressed the view that the Jews had always been a minority, first as monotheists in a polytheistic world, and later as non-Christians in a Christian world. He denied the validity of race and regarded the antisemitic movement in his day as a result of envy, semi-education, and intolerance. At present its root lay in the fanaticism instilled in the child when taught that the Jews had crucified Christ. Coudenhove welcomed Zionism but thought that Palestine was unsuitable for its aims. He suggested progressive assimilation for Western Jews and the founding of a Jewish state for East European Jews. An unsatisfactory solution of the Jewish question would endanger the future of Western civilization. His Judaic library and manuscripts were deposited in the synagogue of Pobezovice and destroyed with it by the Nazis in 1938. His son, richard nicholas (1894–1972), was the founder of the Pan-European movement after World War i. He re-edited his father's book with a preface of his own (1923), and in 1937 published Judenhass, in which he states that antisemitism in the 1920s had developed mainly as a weapon against Marxism and was an outcome of the pauperization of Central Europe. Zionism had turned the Jews from a despised caste into a hated nation. Basically the Jewish question was only one of the minority problems. It would find its solution when "nation" became a cultural definition rather than one of blood (see *Autonomism; S. *Dubnow). In 1937 he suggested Jewish colonization of Rhodesia, assuming that Great Britain might be interested in easing her position in Palestine in this way. His first wife, the Viennese actress Ida Roland (1884–1951), was of Jewish origin.


R.N. Coudenhove-Kalergi, An Idea Conquers the World (1953), 1–59. add. bibliography: A.T. Levenson, in: ylbi, 46 (2001), 276–99; A. Ziegerhofer-Prettenthaler, Die Pan-Europa-Bewegung (2004).

[Meir Lamed]

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