Józef Hieronim Retinger (17 April 1888 – 12 June 1960) was a Polish political adviser. He was a founder of the European Movement that would lead to the founding of the European Union and was involved in founding the Bilderberg Group.
Retinger was born in Kraków, Poland (then part of Austria-Hungary), the youngest of four children. His father, Józef Stanisław Retinger, was the personal legal counsel and adviser to Count Władysław Zamoyski. When Retinger's father died, Count Zamoyski took Józef into his household. Retinger had intended to become a Roman Catholic priest and was already enrolled in a seminary. However, the prospect of lifelong celibacy made him change his mind.
Financed by Count Zamoyski, Retinger entered the Sorbonne in 1906, and two years later became the youngest person to earn a Ph.D. there at age twenty. He moved to England in 1911, where his closest friend was Polish writer Joseph Conrad. He would later write about Conrad in his book Conrad and His Contemporaries (1943).
In 1917 Retinger traveled to Mexico, where he became an unofficial political adviser to union organizer Luis Morones and President Plutarco Elías Calles. Later, during World War II, he advised the Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile, General Władysław Sikorski. In 1944, aged 56, Retinger parachuted into occupied Poland with 2nd Lt. Tadeusz Chciuk-Celt, in Operation Salamander, to meet leading political figures and deliver money to the Polish underground. He survived an unsuccessful assassination attempt by factions in the Polish underground who mistrusted his secret mission into Poland.
After the war, Retinger was exiled from Poland by the communist government. He became a leading advocate of European unification and helped found both the European Movement and the Council of Europe. He would eventually become the Honorary Secretary General of the European Movement.
Retinger initiated the Bilderberg conferences in 1954 and was their secretary until his death by lung cancer in 1960.
- Dr. J. H. Retinger, Polacy w cywilizacjach zagranicznych (Poles in Foreign Civilizations), Warsaw, 1934.
- Joseph Retinger, Conrad and His Contemporaries, London: Minerva, 1941 and New York: Roy, 1942.
- Chapter 4, European Unity. from Memoirs of An Eminence Grise by John Pomian,
- Retinger, Joseph; Pomian, John (1972). Memoirs of an Eminence Grise. Sussex University Press, distr. by Chatto and Windus. ISBN 0-85621-002-1.
- Biography of Jozef Retinger