Kajetan Mérey von Kapos-Mére
Although having a decidedly Hungarian name, Kajetan Mérey von Kapos-Mére was born in Vienna on the16th of January 1861. He spent his one-year volunteer stint for officer candidates with dragoon regiment number 8 and was promoted to Leutnant in der Reserve on the 1st of November 1883. This was followed by an appointment at the Ministerium des kaiserlichen Hauses und des Äußeren (ministry for imperial court and foreign affairs) and after successfully passing the examinations for the diplomatic service on the 20th of May 1885 was promoted to Konzeptspraktikant. He was shortly thereafter employed at the embassies of Belgrade and Bucharest and from the 31st of October 1886 to the 3rd of December 1891 as "liaison officer" between the foreign ministry and the delegation of the Hungarian Reichstag. Whilst serving in this appointment he was promoted to Hof- und Ministerialkonzipist 2.Klasse (26th of March 1888), to the first class of that grade (29th of October 1889) and finally to Legationssekretär (Legation Secretary) on the 28th of November 1891 and temporarily attached to the embassy in Paris. His promotion to Hof- und Ministerialsekretär on the 30th of June 1893 resulted in a posting to the embassy at Constantinople. On the13th of June 1895 Mérey returned to the ministry and was made the deputy-chief of the cabinet of the (foreign) minister on the 10th of August 1895 followed by promotion to Sektionsrat on the 16th of October of the same year. Already on the 12th of November 1895 he was made chief of the minister's cabinet. On the 16th of January 1898 he was honored by the award of the knight's cross of the Order of Leopold and with promotion to Legationsrat on the 13th of September 1898.
From the 18th of May to the 31st of July 1899 took part as "délégué-adjoint" at the international Peace-conference at the Hague. For his performance during this conference he was honored with the award of the commanders' badge with breast star of the Order of Franz Joseph on the 12th of September 1899. On the 18th of June 1901 he was promoted to the rank of außerordentlicher Gesandter und bevollmächtigter Minister followed by the rank of second Sektionschef in the ministry on the 29th of November 1901. In December 1903 he was honored with the title of Geheimer Rat (Privy Councillor) and promoted to first Sektionschef on the 11th of March 1904 and awarded the 1st class of the Order of the Iron Crown in March 1906. On the 26th of February 1907 he was released from this post and promoted to außerordentlicher und bevollmächtigter Botschafter with the status of a diplomatic official within the 2.Rangsklasse - this means he had now reached the rank equal to a Generaloberst! During the second international Peace-conference at the Hague he was the first authorized representative of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. After the conference he was awarded the grand cross of the Order of Leopold (13th December 1907) and took extended leave.
On the 4th of March 1910 he was sent as ambassador to the Italian court at Rome. Kajetan Mérey von Kapos-Mére was impressed by the southern lifestyle and the country and did much beside his duty and received His Majesty's praise and recognition (allerhöchste belobende Anerkennung) for outstanding achievements during the large expositions in Rome and Turin in the year 1912. The Balkan wars of 1912/1913 troubled him much more, he saw the storm on the horizon and was afraid that this could all end in a large war and he reported his opinion to Vienna. For his efforts during this crisis he again received an Allerhöchste Anerkennung on the 24th of August 1913. When he received the message that the successor to the throne and his wife had been murdered at Sarajevo he had a nervous breakdown knowing that this was the beginning of the end. He was recalled to Vienna but the situation did not allow him to recover for very long as on the 12th of January 1915 he was sent back to Rome to attempt everything that was necessary to avoid Italy breaking the treaties and entering the war against Austria-Hungary. Ambassador Mérey von Kapos-Mére did everything he could, using all his contacts, passing a large number of Austrian orders to Italian officers and officials, and it was rumored that a remarkable sum of money changed ownership too, but nothing helped, the Italian government had decided on the betrayal of Austria-Hungary.
Returning to Vienna he took over the Italian department at the foreign ministry. On the 8th of September 1916 he was awarded the newly created Kriegskreuz für Zivilverdienste 1.Klasse - the highest class of this merit cross for civil efforts during the war - and on the 14th of January 1917 the brilliants to his grand cross of the Order of Leopold personally proposed by the new foreign minister Graf Czernin. When the peace-conference at Brest-Litowsk started in December 1917 Graf Czernin knew that Mérey would be the right man and he led the k.u.k. delegation, at first in an interim position and from the 1st of March 1918 permanently. The last meeting was on the afternoon of the 3rd of March 1918 under the chairmanship of Kajetan Mérey von Kapos-Mére. During the signing of the treaty he sat between Zeki Pascha from the Ottoman Empire and Prinz Leopold of Bavaria. Kaiser Karl was so impressed by the results of the Brest-Litowsk agreements that he wanted to honor Mérey in a unique way. He decided to create a new class of the Kriegskreuz für Zivilverdienste named the 1.Klasse mit Brillanten. In a letter signed by Graf Czernin dated 18th of February 1918 Botschafter Mérey von Kapos-Mére was informed about this high and unique award. The jeweler Köchert at Vienna was charged to decorate a "usual" 1st class cross with brilliants and he delivered the decoration (for the price of 9500 Kronen, about the same cost as the 1st class of the military merit cross with brilliants) on the 11th of March 1918 to the authorities. The Oberstkämmerer and former foreign minister Graf Berchtold himself awarded this decoration together with an award certificate to Mérey. A second piece of this rare decoration was produced and delivered (price only 7500 Kronen) on the 30th of March 1918 to the Oberstkämmereramt and was kept there from June 1919, when Köchert bought it back - both decorations are still missing today!
In the eyes of Kaiser Karl and Botschafter Kajetan Mérey von Kapos-Mére the peace of Brest-Litowsk was the beginning of the needed and desired general peace but their hopes were destroyed. Mérey retired on the 2nd of November 1918 and Kaiser Karl again expressed to him his Besondere Allerhöchste Anerkennung - if Mérey had been an army officer he would now have been allowed to wear the large Signum Laudis but as a civil official he only received the honour certificate! Besides Minister Graf Czernin, Botschafter Mérey von Kapos-Mére was the main person influencing Austro-Hungarian foreign policies during the last years of the monarchy. He died in Vienna on the 2nd of February 1931.
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