• Germany's news in English
 

Otto von Habsburg, heir to Austria's last emperor, dies at 98

Published: 04 Jul 2011 14:46 GMT+02:00

The man who was once first in line to the throne of the former Austro-Hungarian empire which covered most of central Europe, died at his home in Pöcking on Lake Starnberg in Bavaria, his spokeswoman said in a statement.

The son of emperor Karl I, who reigned for only two years before the empire disintegrated, Habsburg was born on November 20, 1912 in Reichenau an der

Rax in eastern Austria.

Known abroad as Otto von Habsburg, this elegant man with large glasses and a big smile was just Otto Habsburg-Lothringen in Austria, after the state abolished his family's titles and confiscated their property in 1919.

But he found a calling in the European project, heading the International Paneuropean Union for over 30 years and serving as an elected member of the European parliament from 1979 to 1999 for Bavaria's conservative CSU party. He held Austrian, German and Hungarian citizenship.

An ardent anti-Communist, Habsburg organised in August 1989 the now-famous "Pan-European picnic" in Sopron, near Hungary's border with Austria, during which some 700 East Germans were able to escape to the West, a few months before the Berlin Wall fell on November 9.

He always campaigned for a unified Europe based on Christian values and for a greater integration of eastern countries into Europe.

Forced into exile with his family after the empire fell in 1918, Habsburg spent time in Switzerland, on the Portuguese island of Madeira, Spain, Belgium, France and the United States, and studied political and social sciences at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, graduating with a doctorate in 1935.

In the 1930s, he openly opposed the Nazi party, joining the Austrian resistance after the 1938 Anschluß and helping thousands of Jews flee the country at the beginning of World War II.

His actions prompted the Nazis to come after him but Habsburg later said it was his duty to be politically involved.

He said he became "a European patriot in the very depths of his soul" after Nazi Germany occupied Austria.

In 1951, Habsburg married the German princess Regina von Saxe-Meiningen und

Hildburghausen, with whom he had seven children.

He reluctantly renounced all claims to the Austrian throne in 1961, five years before the state repealed so-called anti-Habsburg laws, adopted after World War I, which effectively banned all members of the former imperial family from setting foot in Austria.

A student of languages, Habsburg wrote some 40 books on history and politics in German, French, Spanish and Hungarian.

His funeral will take place in Vienna on July 16, his spokeswoman said Monday. Habsburg will be buried in the imperial crypt in Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn told the Catholic news service Kathpress.

AFP/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:11 July 4, 2011 by freechoice
Awesome dude! May God bless his soul...
17:30 July 4, 2011 by hanskarl
Agreed.........
19:00 July 4, 2011 by olog-hai
Funny that the article mentioned that the late von Habsburg's vision for a united Europe was one based on "Christian values". Back in the 1980s as a MEP, the man made the following very revealing comment about the European Union, to the effect that the people thereof "are living largely by the heritage of the Holy Roman Empire, though the great majority of the people who live by it don't know by what heritage they live". He invoked the Reich in terms of the EU.
14:17 July 12, 2011 by Eric Best
This man was truly a king. He will be remembered.
Today's headlines
Top spy admits: We're 'dependent' on NSA
Gerhard Schindler admitted that the BND had made mistakes in its handling of NSA requests. Photo: DPA

Top spy admits: We're 'dependent' on NSA

The head of the German Intelligence Agency (BND) told a special parliamentary committee on Thursday that his agency is 'dependent on' the American National Security Agency (NSA). READ  

Autobahn driver suffers drone windscreen smash
Photo: Polizei Bochum

Autobahn driver suffers drone windscreen smash

After a low flying drone crashed into the windscreen of a car on the Autobahn outside Bochum, police announced on Thursday they are looking for witnesses. READ  

Business confidence slack as growth slows
A worker puts the finishing touches to BMWs at the car producer's Regensburg, Bavaria production line. Photo: DPA

Business confidence slack as growth slows

German business confidence slipped fractionally from its previous high level in May, as the upturn in Europe's biggest economy continues, the Ifo economic institute said Friday. READ  

Two criminals on the run after daylight escape
Two fugitives on the run since Thursday. Photo: Polizei Kleve

Two criminals on the run after daylight escape

Police are searching for two fugitives in North Rhine-Westphalia after a young woman freed a man from custody as he was being taken to the doctor. READ  

Merkel pushes for Greece deal at Euro meet
Angela Merkel with Francois Hollande and Alexis Tsipras in Riga. Photo: DPA

Merkel pushes for Greece deal at Euro meet

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held "friendly and constructive" debt talks with the leaders of France and Germany Thursday, but gave no sign of a breakthrough ahead of a crucial June deadline. READ  

Wage disparity drives up inequality in Germany
A man begs on the street in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

Wage disparity drives up inequality in Germany

A report on Thursday showed that while the gap between rich and poor has somewhat stabilized in Germany since the economic crisis, the rich and highly educated continue to gain more while the poor struggle, creating some of the biggest wealth gaps among developed countries. READ  

This week in history
Home-grown terrorists stand trial in Stuttgart
The trial took place in a specially built courtroom. Photo: DPA

Home-grown terrorists stand trial in Stuttgart

Forty years ago, on May 21 1975, a trial began in Stuttgart against the leaders of the Red Army Faction (RAF), a Marxist organisation which began an underground war against the Federal Republic five years earlier. READ  

Minimum wage threatens Germany's fave pickles
The wonderful world of gherkins. Photo: DPA

Minimum wage threatens Germany's fave pickles

Vegetable farmers in Brandenburg are worried about the future of the famous Spreewald gherkins, as the new national minimum wage has driven prices up. READ  

Police seize tiny lamb from Munich brothel
Photo: Polizei Bayern

Police seize tiny lamb from Munich brothel

Police in Munich raided a brothel after it was reported that a prostitute there possessed contraband. During their search they found marijuana, other narcotics... and a three-week-old lamb. READ  

Syrian rebels show off Nazi howitzer in video
Syrian rebels loading the Nazi howitzer. Photo: Still from video

Syrian rebels show off Nazi howitzer in video

A video has been uploaded to Youtube showing Syrian rebels proudly showing off their "brand-new" weapon: a Nazi howitzer dating back to the Second World War. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Why the train strike is bad for passengers and workers
National
Meet Germany's Eurovision hope
Business & Money
Is 2015 a new moment for jobsharing?
Features
How the LGBT rights movement was born in Germany
National
Why you don't make bomb jokes at the airport
National
Why Germany needs a little less tipple
National
Who Germans and Americans trust... and don't
Politics
What the UK election means for Germany
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,780
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd