• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

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

The Local · 4 Jul 2011, 14:46

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.

Story continues below…

He reluctantly renounced all claims to the Austrian throne in 1961, five years before the state repealed so-called anti-Habsburg laws, adopted after World War I, which effectively banned all members of the former imperial family from setting foot in Austria.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

In the chaos after the Munich mall shooting, city residents spontaneously offered shelter to strangers - a move that Chancellor Angela Merkel said showed that Germany's strength lies in its values.

Merkel deplores 'night of horror' in Munich
Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Munich had suffered a "night of horror" after a shooting spree in the southern German city left nine people dead.

Munich shooting
Munich attacker was shy video game fan
People laying flowers at the site of the shootings. Photo: DPA.

David Ali Sonboly was a quiet, helpful teenager who loved playing video games. His neighbours say there were no warning signs before his deadly rampage at a Munich shopping mall.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman inspired by rightwing Breivik: police
Photo: DPA

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people in a gun rampage in Munich was "obsessed" with mass killers such as Norwegian rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik and had no links to the Islamic State group, police said Saturday.

Munich shooting
Turks, Kosovans and a Greek among shooting victims
Photo: DPA

Three Turkish citizens were among the nine people killed in Germany's Munich mall shooting. Three Kosovans were also among the nine victims.

Munich shooting
Munich gunman was likely not Isis terrorist: police
Flowers laid at the Olympia Shopping Centre underground station. Photo: DPA

According to initial investigations by Munich police, the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Munich on Friday evening was a lone gunman without motive, not a terrorist.

Munich shooting
'Lone' Munich shooter kills nine, commits suicide
Photo: DPA

A teenage German-Iranian gunman who killed nine people in a shooting spree at a busy Munich shopping centre and then committed suicide had likely acted alone, German police said Saturday.

As it happened
Nine dead in shooting rampage in Munich
File photo: DPA

Nine people are dead after "at least one person" went on a shooting spree in a Munich shopping centre on Friday evening. An attacker is believed to be among the dead.

German Turkish community split by unrest after coup plot
Pro-Erdogan protesters in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Hatred between supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and those opposed to him has exploded on social media in Germany in the wake of a failed coup attempt last Friday.

Germany stresses defence of Baltics after Trump comments
Photo: DPA

Germany on Friday stressed its promise to protect its NATO allies after White House hopeful Donald Trump called the commitment into question.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Nice was an attack on France, not on Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,799
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd