May 11, 2003
Hapsburgs seek return of Nazi-seized properties
The heirs to the Hapsburg dynasty, whose forebears ruled central Europe for over 600 years in an empire that once stretched from the borders of Russia to Spain, have asked the Austrian government to return forests, homes and a palace seized by the Nazis on the eve of World War II. . .From yesterday's NY Times.
The Hapsburgs' rule ended in 1918 when the family was forced to abdicate at the end of World War I. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, over which the Hapsburgs presided, was broken up and the family was awarded the land and buildings as a form of state pension. But when the Nazis occupied Austria in March 1938, the property was confiscated.
There is little doubt that the Hapsburgs lost their property because they opposed the Nazis. Otto von Hapsburg spoke out in Austria against Hitler and warned of dire consequences for Austria in the event of Anschluss, the incorporation of Austria into Germany.
Three of Otto's cousins enlisted in the United States Army and fought against the Nazis in World War II. A fourth cousin, Robert von Hapsburg, flew with the Royal Air Force against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain, in 1940. In exile in France, Otto and Carl-Ludwig von Hapsburg helped persuade a diplomat from neutral Portugal to issue visas to thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazi advance, also in 1940.
Posted by David on May 11, 2003 5:49 PM