Egon Ranshofen-Wertheimer was born as the son of the Catholic land owner and member of the Upper Austrian parliament Julius Wertheimer in Ranshofen near Braunau. His family had Jewish roots and so they fled Austria in 1938 because of the growing threat of the Nazi government.
During the first World War he got introduced to Marxist ideology and studied in Vienna, Munich and Heidelberg after the war. He later developed a more and more pragmatic mental attitude and changed into a social democrat. He started to work as an editor in Hamburg and until 1930 as a foreign correspondent for the social-democratic news paper Forward in London. In this period he wrote his first book Portrait of the British Labour Party that became a bestseller, and he made first contact with Leopold Kohr, a young journalist and economist from Salzburg, later author of The Breakdown of Nations.
His book raised the awareness of the British government, who had a big influence on the League of Nations. Because of that he got the chance to work as diplomat and supervisor of the League of Nations for 10 years in Geneva, beginning in 1930.
Because of the incidents in Europe he emigrated to America, where he worked at the American University in Washington as a professor. In addition he was employed as a consultant of the United States ministry for foreign affairs and supported the US government in the struggle against Hitler-Germany. There, he and his younger colleague Leopold Kohr began to criticize the National Socialist Germany through venues such as the New York Times.
Shortly after the Second World War, Egon Ranshofen began to work as executive, supervisor, and diplomat for the UNO. His book “A Great Experiment in International Administration” had a substantial influence on the developing of the UNO.
Ranshofen-Wertheimer and Kohr also lobbied for an independent Austria. That the young second republic of Austria got a member of the UNO rather fast can be attributed to the engagement of Ranshofen-Wertheimer.
Egon Ranshofen-Wertheimer is buried in the cemetery of the castle Ranshofen in his family grave.
The 16th Braunau Contemporary History Days in September 2007, with the title “peacemakingPeacemakers manual”, will focus on the life of Egon Ranshofen-Wertheimer.
The Egon Ranshofen-Wertheimer Award (ERWA) was founded by the Society for Contemporary History in Braunau am Inn in the beginning of 2007.