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• Kalergi supported a strong, united European continent and believed that the European civilization would “absorb” other cultures, not be replaced by them.
• A conspiracy theory around Kalergi’s work is based on distortions of his writings and fabrications by Nazis and neo-Nazis.
As the wounds from World War I were still festering in Europe, and as the continent prepared for an even bloodier war, a Japanese-Austrian politician proposed a peaceful federation in Europe.
The plan by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, published as a book in the 1920s, was surprisingly predictive of the European Union that would appear only decades later, after World War II.
It described a bloc of 26 countries tied in a customs union, a single market, and a monetary zone, with a continental parliament, a single currency, and an anthem. The union would deal with other countries as one, but would also respect internal national differences.
Despite its ingenuity, very little of that plan is remembered now. Instead, Kalergi is better known for an evil scheme that he never actually authored.
According to distortions and fabrications first made by Nazis, repurposed by neo-Nazis, adopted by the European far-right and, more recently, referenced by American conservatives, Kalergi planned the destruction of white European civilization through migration and interracial marriage.
A video shared recently on TikTok summarizes the conspiracy theory. It shows Nick Griffin, a far-right British politician and former member of the European Parliament, claiming that Kalergi "published the plan for a united Europe and the ethnocide of the peoples of Europe."
According to Griffin, migrant groups like guest workers and refugees are being encouraged to come to Europe by an "unholy alliance" of leftists, Zionists, and capitalists "with the deliberate aim of breeding us out of existence in our own homelands."
Other right-wing politicians and groups in Europe have mentioned Kalergi and his "plan," including in Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the Czech Republic.
It has also generated interest online whenever tensions over migration were high in Europe. Searches for "Kalergi" rose during the migrant crisis in 2015, according to Google Trends, and spiked again when far-right parties in Germany and Italy made migration a central issue of electoral campaigns.
Griffin’s video was shared on TikTok in 2021 with a reference to the Belarus-Poland border crisis, when the government of Belarus incentivized migrants to travel to the country and cross the border with Poland.
The "Kalergi plan" conspiracy theory is a European variation of the conspiracy theories about "white genocide" that have been mentioned by mainstream American conservatives in recent years, and that inspired the gunman who killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019 and shooters in two synagogues in the United States.
The idea has remained popular despite the lack of evidence that European elites are carrying out such a plan of migrant invasion.
When John Stuart Agnew, a right-wing British politician and former member of the European Parliament, asked the European Commission in 2019 about a "Kalergi plan," the commission answered that it was not aware of any "plan" and pointed to its migration policy, which has been updated multiple times over the past decade.
It makes sense that a "Kalergi plan" is not being executed, since there is no evidence that Kalergi ever proposed one. According to Martyn Bond, the author of a recent biography of Kalergi, his writings mention the mixing of races, but as a description of what he was observing around him, and a prediction of something that would continue to happen in the future.
"(Kalergi) objectively describes what was already occurring and would increasingly occur — racial mixing — as various factors of globalization became ever more apparent," Bond wrote. But they were descriptions, not prescriptions. The claim that he "aimed to eliminate the white race through racial mixing with immigrants from outside Europe" is a "gross misreading" of his work, according to Bond.
Kalergi’s own writings show that he wanted to strengthen Europe believing that only a united continent would be able to face giants like the United States and the Soviet Union.
He also thought that European culture was "striding victoriously ahead" and would eventually "absorb" other cultures. Bond told PolitiFact that despite his mixed heritage, Kalergi held an assumption of "white Christian superiority" — a view that his far-right detractors "might even approve."
Although conspiracy theories about "white genocide" are older, the specific claims related to Kalergi have their origins in Nazi Germany, according to historians Roland Clark and Nikolaus Hagen.
They were circulated, among others, by the newspaper of the Nazi Party, which used xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and racist language to describe Kalergi as "the commercial prophet of Pan-Europe" and "a dressed-up, nasty mongrel" who "dreams of a world of Eurasian-Negroid humans, subject to the God-given rule of the Jews."
According to Clark and Hagen, the claims made by the Nazis were recovered decades later by Gerd Honsik, an Austrian neo-Nazi and convicted Holocaust denier. Honsik published a book in the early 2000s describing what he termed the "Kalergi plan" and promoted the conspiracy theory in Europe.
"Honsik sent out hundreds of newsletters and open letters to politicians, and his books were translated in many different languages," Hagen told PolitiFact. "It's not surprising that his ideas were picked up in neo-Nazi and Holocaust-denial circles." What is more "puzzling and worrying," according to Hagen, "is how this fringe conspiracy theory recently penetrated the mainstream political discourse."
A post on TikTok shows a video claiming that an elite is carrying out a plan to replace white Europeans with non-white migrants, and that this plan was devised by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, an early proponent of continental unification in Europe.
There is no evidence that the plan exists. The idea that it does lies in distortions of Kalergi’s writings and fabrications by Nazis and neo-Nazis, according to information from historians, Kalergi’s biographer, the European Commission, and Kalergi’s own writings.
We rate the post False.
European Parliament website, Intervention by Nick Griffin, member of the European Parliament, during a debate on the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and the EU Internal Security Fund, March 12, 2014
European Parliament website, Question by John Stuart Agnew, member of the European Parliament, to the European Commission, March 27, 2019
European Parliament website, Answer by Dimitris Avramopoulos, member of the department for migration at the European Commission, June 19, 2019
European Parliament, "Fact Sheets on the European Union: Immigration Policy," Sept. 2021
Martyn Bond, "Hitler’s Cosmopolitan Bastard: Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi and His Vision of Europe," McGill-Queen's University Press, 2021
Phone interview with Martyn Bond, author of "A Tale of Two Germanys" (1990), "The Council of Europe" (2013), and "Hitler’s Cosmopolitan Bastard" (2021); senior fellow at the Salzburg Global Seminar and senior honorary fellow at Regent’s University in London; former BBC foreign correspondent in Berlin; and former European Union civil servant, Jan. 5, 2022
Robin de Bruin, "European Union as a Road to Serfdom: The Alt-Right’s Inversion of Narratives on European Integration," Journal of Contemporary European Studies, Aug. 4 2021
Roland Clark and Nikolaus Hagen, "Kalergi Plan: The Undying ‘White Genocide’ Conspiracy Theory," Rantt Media, May 2, 2020
Email interview with Roland Clark, senior lecturer in modern European history at the University of Liverpool and senior fellow with the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right in London, Jan. 18, 2022
Email interview with Nikolaus Hagen, postdoctoral researcher with the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies and the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University, and research assistant at the Jewish Museum in Munich, Jan. 18, 2022
Jacob Davey and Julia Ebner, "‘The ‘Great Replacement:’ The Violent Consequences of Mainstreamed Extremism," Institute for Strategic Dialogue, 2019
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