Józef Retinger

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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 establishment of the European Union[1] 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.

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).

Józef Retinger's grave, North Sheen Cemetery, London

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[2](pp16–22) with 2nd Lt. Tadeusz Chciuk-Celt, in Operation Salamander, to meet leading political figures and deliver money to the Polish underground. He survived an assassination attempt by the Home Army command who mistrusted his secret mission into Poland.[3]

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. He is buried at North Sheen Cemetery.[2](pp16–22)


  • 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.
  • Joseph Retinger, John Pomian, Memoirs of an Eminence Grise, Sussex University Press, 1972. ISBN 0-85621-002-1 OCLC 844436367

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pieczewski, Andrzej (11 Aug 2010). "Joseph Retinger's conception of and contribution to the early process of European integration". European Review of History. 17 (4): 581–604. doi:10.1080/13507486.2010.495766.
  2. ^ a b Eringer, Robert. The Global Manipulators. Pentacle Books. ASIN B00546KTEM. OCLC 26551991.
  3. ^ Retinger, Joseph (1972). Memoirs of an Eminence Grise. Sussex University Press/Chatto and Windus. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-85621-002-0.

Further reading[edit]

  • M.B. Biskupski, "Spy, Patriot or Internationalist? The Early Career of Józef Retinger, Polish Patriarch of European Union," The Polish Review, vol. 43, no. 1, 1998:23-67.
  • Andrzej Pieczewski, "Józef H. Retinger – pomysłodawca i współtwórca Grupy Bilderbergu" ("Joseph Retinger: Visionary Co-founder of the Bilderberg Group"), Studia polityczne ISP PAN, nr 10/2000.
  • Andrzej Pieczewski, "Działalność J.H. Retingera na rzecz zjednoczonej Europy" ("Joseph Retinger’s Work for a United Europe"), Studia Europejskie. Centrum Europejskie Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, nr 16 (2000).
  • Andrzej Pieczewski, Działalność Józefa Hieronima Retingera na rzecz integracji europejskiej (Joseph Retinger’s Work for European Integration), Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, Toruń, 2008, ISBN 978-83-7611-184-1.
  • Andrzej Pieczewski, "Joseph Retinger's Vision of [a] United Europe After World War II: Central and Eastern European Question", The Polish Review, vol. 60, no 4, 2015 pp. 49-66.
  • Władysław Bułhak, "The Foreign Office and the Special Operations Executive and the Expedition of Józef Hieronim Retinger to Poland, April–July 1944", The Polish Review, vol. 61, no. 3, 2016, pp. 33–57.

External links[edit]