• 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He reluctantly renounced all claims to the Austrian throne in 1961, five years before the state repealed so-called anti-Habsburg laws, adopted after World War I, which effectively banned all members of the former imperial family from setting foot in Austria.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
July asylum applications hit 'all-time record'
An asylum seeker reception centre in Trier. Photo: DPA

July asylum applications hit 'all-time record'

More people applied for asylum in Germany in July than in any previous month on record, the Ministry for Immigration and Refugees announced on Friday. READ  

This Week in History
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after WWII
Germans fleeing from eastern Europe after the Second World War. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The 1,000s of Germans massacred after WWII

Seventy years ago on Friday, a munitions depot exploded in the Czechoslovakian town of Ústí nad Labem. For the thousands of Sudeten Germans who lived in the town, the event was a death sentence. READ  

Minister seeks to rid laws of 'Nazi language'
In the center, Nazi lawyer Roland Freisler, who wrote laws that are partially still in existence today. Photo: German Federal Archive / Wikimedia Commons.

Minister seeks to rid laws of 'Nazi language'

Germany has made great efforts to purge legal system of remnants of Adolf Hitler's regime, but some laws still bear traces of the Nazi past. The Justice Minister wants to change this. READ  

Treason investigation of Netzpolitik halted
Netzpolitik published documents outlining the internal spy agency BfV's spy programmes and budget. Photo: DPA

Treason investigation of Netzpolitik halted

Update: Federal prosecutors announced on Friday they are suspending investigations of treason against 'digital rights' website Netzpolitik for 'the greater good' of upholding freedom of the press. READ  

Newborn baby found in Munich airport toilets
Munich Airport. Photo: DPA

Newborn baby found in Munich airport toilets

A newborn baby was found in a toilet in Munich airport on Thursday. Police so far have no clue as to who or where the mother is. READ  

Brit arrested in Munich for meth smuggling
Photo: BVZ/Zoll

Brit arrested in Munich for meth smuggling

A 50-year-old British woman is being held in custody in Munich on suspicion of attempting to smuggle two kilos of crystal meth out of Munich airport disguised as sweets. READ  

Start-up helps new Berliners slash red tape
Hate waiting in line at the Bürgeramt? There's a company that lets you pay to get the perfect appointment. Photo: DPA.

Start-up helps new Berliners slash red tape

Why waste time jumping through the hoops of German bureaucracy when you can pay someone else to take the hassle off your hands? A new Berlin company is offering to do just that - and it's got city officials fuming in the process. READ  

Michael Jackson shrine may have to beat it
A fan visits the makeshift Michael Jackson memorial in Munich. Photo: DPA.

Michael Jackson shrine may have to beat it

A memorial set up in Germany by some of Michael Jackson's most ardent fans the day after his sudden 2009 death has come under threat in a strangely emotional turf war. READ  

Ai Weiwei in Germany as UK slammed over visa
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei arrived at Munich airport on Thursday, greeted by his son and son's mother, filmmaker Wang Fen. Photo: DPA.

Ai Weiwei in Germany as UK slammed over visa

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei arrived in Munich on Thursday on his first overseas trip since he was arrested nearly four years ago, after Britain denied him a six-month visa because he did not declare a supposed "criminal conviction" on his application. READ  

'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Regulations for women's parking spaces differ from state to state across Germany. Photo: JG-NF / Wikimedia Commons.

'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?

Frankfurt Airport is one of many places in Germany to offer women their own 'bigger and nicer' parking areas. Is this sensible practice or plain sexist? READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Society
In North Germany, money sometimes DOES grow on trees
National
Hero mechanics stop Bavaria shooting spree
International
Denmark says that border controls are coming
National
Did hackers take control of German missile battery?
Politics
Munich gives gay pride green light
Business & Money
Berlin rent controls hit prices hard
National
Fighting to breastfeed in public without shame
Society
Ice cream for dogs 'gobbled up in one gulp'
Education
Are hotpants a feminist issue?
Rhineland
Lion cub reunited with mother
National
How the heatwave is cracking Germany's Autobahns
International
Why the French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
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

7,212
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd