Marcin Święcicki (MP) is the President of the European Movement Forum, Poland.
Joseph Retinger was born in 1888 in Krakow just 380 km from Vienna, in which Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi was raised. Both cities were located geographically and mentally in the region called Mitteleurope. At that time politically Krakow and Vienna belonged to Austro-Hungarian Empire, conglomerate of many middle-European nations.
After graduating from the Catholic St. Anne high school in Krakow Retinger was accepted into the novitiate of the Jesuit Order in Rome, which, however, he soon left and entered the École des Sciences Politiques and the Faculty of Literature at the Sorbonne. He socialized with the elite of Paris becoming acquainted with many local artists and politicians. After defending a doctoral thesis Retinger became the youngest doctor of literature in Europe. Then he attended the classes for the study of psychology of nations in Munich, he was also in Florence and in London at the London School of Economics.
Over the next few years, until the outbreak of World War I, most of the time he spent in Krakow, where he became involved with the local artistic bohemia. In 1916 he was one of the people sent to Austria to negotiate peace with the emperor Charles I. As he wrote in his memoirs:
"At the time I dealt with exploring the possibility of a separate peace with Austria-Hungary. It seemed to me that I played an important role in international politics. But perhaps my actions were among the many simultaneously carried out. I have never examined whether the role I played, actually was so great as I thought. I can only say that I worked diligently, and when I found that the implementation of the plan is impossible, I simply even stopped to think about it. Maybe I treated myself too seriously, but at the time I was very young. "
During World War I, in addition to activities for Polish independence, Retinger also met with the leaders of the Zionist movement - Chaim Weizmann, the future first president of Israel, Vladimir Żabotyńskim and Nahum Sokolov. He knew then (1917) Athur Capela - an Englishman, which began work on the book The World on the Anvil ("The World of the workshop"), which advocated the establishment of a world government based on the close alliance of France and England.
During the peace negotiations he antagonized a lot of parties and therefore had to leave France. He lived in Spain, where in the 20's he moved to Mexico. There he met one of the local union leaders, the future minister in the government of Plutarco Calles, Morones Luis Negrete. With time, he was very involved with the Mexican administration becoming its unofficial adviser in many areas. When Calles and Morones lost in the mid-30's power and were expelled from Mexico, Retinger returned to Europe. Until the outbreak of war, he was in constant motion between Warsaw, London, Paris, Prague and the Czech Moravian Ostrava.
During World War II, Retinger was a key advisor to the Polish Prime Ministers in exile. When Germany attacked France his connections helped to get permission from Churchill for evacuation of the Polish forces into England. In London Retinger formed an inter-allies secretariat composed of émigré politicians from Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Greece, Holland, Norway, Luxemburg, Poland and Yugoslavia. Jan Masaryk, Joseph Bech and Paul-Henri Spaak were among them. When Hitler attacked Soviet Union Retinger went to Moscow where he worked for the release of Polish detainees from Gulags in order to form Polish Army. Then Retinger was sent with the top-secret and extremely risky mission to the occupied Poland. He returned safely to England bringing secret Nazi plans for missile V-2.
After World War II he became involved in the movement towards European integration. It was a consistent continuation of his previous experience. The first step towards this was done as early as 7 May 1946 when Retinger gave a talk entitled “Continent of Europe?” at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House. During this period, he met with representatives of the various communities in Western Europe, traveled to London, Paris, The Hague, Rome. He met with representatives of the Labour Party and the hierarchs of the Church (such as Cardinal Montini, later Pope Paul VI).
Finally got his way playing an important role in chairing organizing committee of the pan-European congress of nearly 800 delegates, which took place on 8-10 May 1948, in the Dutch parliament building in The Hague. As he later admitted, "all the great European treaties grew out of the fertile soil of this bold collection." He became the first secretary general of the European Movement International – federation of pro-European organizations still active on European scene. He also, together with Paul van Zeeland, established the European League of Economic Cooperation.
With time, however, with the rise of the European Coal and Steel Community and the withdrawal of the UK from the integration movement Retinger saw the need to have a broader, transatlantic integration primarily with the United States.
The culmination of this was a meeting that took place in May 1954, when the most influential personalities in the United States and Europe met in a hotel near Arhnem in the Netherlands - Bilderberg Hotel. Its name is forever associated with this group. Bilderberg meetings began to be held regularly, about once a year in different countries. Although the meeting was attended by journalists, there was a lack of any press releases, a theme and conduct of the meeting was shrouded in mystery. But Retinger in 1956 published a paper in which he specified the objectives of its business and its current members list. By the end of the 50s he was the secretary of the group, but eventually had to abandon it due to more and more advanced lung cancer. He died in London, June 12, 1960.
He was a true "eminence grise" behind many important events of the history of European integration in the first half of the twentieth century. Paul Spaak said that Józef Retinger was one of the pioneers of European integration and his name should not be forgotten.
- Forum Ruchu Europejskiego (European Movement Forum) – President 2012-
- Member of Parliament(Sejm), Poland, 1989-1991, 1993-1996, 2011-
- Director, EC-UNDP Blue Ribbon Analytical and Advisory Centre, Kyiv, 2007- 2011
- Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Vienna, 2002 – 2005
- Advisor to the President of Lithuania on Economic Reforms, 1999-2000
- Mayor of Warsaw, 1994–1999
- Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, co-author of the Polish stabilization plan (the Balcerowicz plan) in the first democratic government, 1989-1991
- Director for Studies and Analyzes and then Secretary General of the Consultative Economic Council, 1982-89
- Graduated from University of Warsaw, postgraduate studies at George Washington University and Harvard University, Ph. D. in Economics