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. . .

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.

From yesterday's NY Times.

Posted by David on May 11, 2003 5:49 PM


I did not know of the history of the Hapsburg until I was reading a book, "The History and Character of Calvinism" by John T. McNeill. Looking for more information, I came across your sight. It is good to learn that some of the 20th century people from this lineage took an active part in fighting against Hitler. Now I know where the legend of WILLIAM TELL came from. It gives more meaning to "The William Tell Overture," and for me in America as a little boy, "The Lone Ranger!" Thank you for this samll bit of information.

Posted by: Jim on October 11, 2004 1:31 PM

My great-grandparents have land and a home seized by Nazi's during WW2. Would anyone have any suggestions please on how to find proof of ownership and go about recovering the land?

Thank you for any help or suggestions

Posted by: Patricia on September 21, 2006 1:22 AM
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