Archduke Otto at 100
Jørn K. Baltzersen
by Jørn K. Baltzersen: The
Last Knight of the Habsburg Empire
is a wonderful November Wednesday. The 64th year of the
reign of the Emperor Franz Joseph is coming to an end. Most people
can remember no other reign. The old Emperor has outlived many heirs,
and he is soon to outlive his erstwhile Finance Minister Eugen Böhm
Ritter von Bawerk, a pioneer of the Austrian School of Economics,
who was born in his reign. On this November day, or rather night,
a boy is born early in the morning to Archduke Charles and Archduchess
Zita in Villa Wartholz in Reichenau in Lower Austria; a new heir
is born. He is a strong boy. He is to go on to live about 19 months
short of a century. His name is to be Archduke Franz Joseph Otto
Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus
Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius.
a year and a half passes, and we arrive at June 28, 1914. The immediate
heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand,
is on an official visit to Sarajevo with his consort, Sophie, Duchess
of Hohenberg. And that visit ends at the hands of Gavrilo Princip.
The long, golden, relatively peaceful period of Western civilization
comes to a horrific halt through a tense July and outbreak
of a full European war by the early days
old Emperor lives for two more years and some months. The Archduke
Otto celebrates his fourth birthday. The next morning the old Emperor
passes. Archduke Charles ascends the throne as Emperor-King of Austria-Hungary,
and Archduke Otto becomes Crown Prince. High on the agenda of the
new, young Emperor is to end the war, but other actors have other
Prince Otto is at the center stage of the funeral of Emperor Franz
Joseph, walking just behind the sarcophagus with his father and
mother; the Emperor and Empress. The Archduke retains the memory
of this event well into old age but even more so with the coronation
in Budapest just over a month later.
first of the old Empires to fall is Russia – with a provisional
government being set up. Time is not wasted on the banks of the
Potomac, and the federal government of those United States goes
from an dishonest
faux neutrality to formal involvement in the war and a declaration
of war. The war is officially turned into
an ideological war to "make the world safe for democracy," with
Woodrow Wilson with his alter ego, Colonel
House, at the helm. The political leaders
in the French revolutionary republic and the British Empire are
not innocent in this ideological quest either. The war is likely
prolonged by American entry – in addition to giving
horror at home.
war comes to a ceasefire
on November 11, 1918. The Archduke Otto is just a few days short
of six years old. The Austro-Hungarian Imperial-Royal Family is
forced into internal exile at Eckartsau. A few months pass, and
the family is expelled from the homeland. A couple of restoration
attempts in Hungary take place, whereafter the family is sent to
exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira. The Emperor Charles falls
seriously sick and demises on April 1, 1922 at the age of only 34.
Archduke Otto is addressed as His Majesty only nine years old.
demise on April 1 would be a joke if it were not so serious. The
Emperor's passing is the last casuality thus far in the interventionist
quest to "make the world safe for democracy." More is yet to come,
not least in World War II but also in later wars. George D. Herron
tells us that noone has ever ruled someone for his own good. Yet,
this new dawning age of democratic absolutism in the ashes of the
Great War and the mist of Madeira is to give us more rule over others
than what has been seen before.
the Archduke Otto later in life is asked about the harsh treatment
given by the British, the Archduke recalls his fond memories of
Archduke Otto embarks upon a long life as head of the House of Habsburg.
He writes around 30 books. He envisions a monarchy with a judge-like
role. He states that it was the Enlightenment with its concept of
man's law void of any higher power that opened the gates for tyranny
by both individual men and the masses. The French Revolution is
just a follow-up of this, says the Archduke.
von Habsburg joins the Mont Pelerin Society. He becomes friends
with Ludwig von Mises and Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn. Ludwig von
him on a Habsburg restoration.
1961 the Archduke signs a renunciation of his claim to the throne
of Austria, an action done under pressure, and he later states that
he was not happy about it.
serves as a Member of the European Parliament for twenty years,
beginning at an age when most people retire. He once gives a speech
before the European Parliament in fluent Latin, being fluent in
becomes the first Schlarbaum Laureate in 1999 and he speaks at the
Mises Institute about his friend Ludwig von Mises.
of those who would have liked to see the late Archduke on the throne
have expressed disappointment with his involvement in European politics,
embracing of the European Union, and lack of enthusiasm and priority
for a restoration. One should remember that one of the main reasons
for monarchy is the lack of power seekers. Archduke Otto saw his
life mission to serve the interests of the Central European peoples,
not to reestablish an institution as a goal in itself. When he could
not fight on horseback, he
jumped down and continued on foot.
the Archduke once said he preferred not to be monarch, as he was
"too much of a political animal." Indeed, arguably, it would have
been a waste for the Archduke Otto to be one of those rubber-stamping
marionettes or showcase dolls that unfortunately most European monarchs
of nowadays are known as – although it must be added that the monarchies
of today often are not as completely emasculated as they seem. One
could argue that the Habsburg monarchy is better a memory than surviving
as an emasculated modern monarchy, though the price for that has
been extremely high – and probably not worth paying.
honor the man who should
have been Emperor and King of Austria-Hungary.
Otto von Habsburg outlived a lot of his enemies, in itself a victory.
But it was not only enemies he outlived. When his friend Gordon
Brook-Shepherd embarked on a biography project, it was uttered that
it had to be done before it was too late. It was probably not anticipated
that it would be the biographer that would pass on first.
Archduchess Regina and Archduke Otto celebrated their golden wedding
anniversary, it was said that this might be the last chance for
a major milestone celebration. Little did anyone know that it would
consort, twelve years a junior of the Archduke,
who would not live to see the day that would have been the diamond
were held for the Archduke Otto in the Imperial Palace in Vienna,
Hofburg, at both his 90th and 95th birthdays.
Perhaps the interregnal government figured he no longer as an old
man posed a threat?
an interview done with one of Archduke Otto's daughters in connection
with the 95th birthday, she was asked if he could live
to a hundred. She answered, without any noticable doubt, yes. Having
attended a talk in Sweden with the Archduke just over a year before
that, I could believe it. During the entire event, the Archduke
was the only one never to sit. He stood through his own talk of
roughly an hour, and when remaining for a while after the talk,
he never sat down. Had it not been for the passing of his supporting
consort, the Archduchess Regina, after which he withdrew from public
life, he might also have lived to this day. He did, however, outlive
every single known combat veteran of the war that destroyed the
order to which he was an heir.
of us who have been fortunate enough to meet
him and talk with him are lucky to have
done so, although some of us also would have liked to have much
more time with him.
the year following the demise of his wife and the summer following
what would have been his diamond wedding anniversary, he comes to
share the fate of Thomas Jefferson, to
pass away on the Fourth of July.
church services are held for the late Archduke, some of them in
the republic that gave him shelter during World War II. He is brought
from Munich to Vienna, where he first lies – together with Archduchess
Regina – in state in the Capuchin Church. Long lines of people form
to pay respects.
16, 2011 is a wonderful day in Vienna.
The city has what till this day is called Kaiserwetter – Imperial
weather. The city is restored to its former Imperial glory. Only
a few details reveal that it is not a state funeral; a man they
call President is in attendance, an almost childish avoidance of
the word von, the reservations made before singing the Imperial
Hymn, and a few other elements. At large, it is an Imperial funeral.
The Archduke was denied status as Emperor in life but brought to
his grave as an Emperor, even with Kaiserwetter.
to Habsburg tradition, the heart is often burried separately. Archduke
Otto's heart is brought to Hungary, the kingdom that never expelled
him like Austria did.
only surviving sibling, Archduke Felix, does not have health to
come to the funeral. His demise comes two months and two days after
that of Archduke Otto. Archduke Felix did not go as far as Archduke
Otto as to renunciation and allegiance to the interregnal government.
With the demise of Archduke Felix, the last surviving issue of Blessed
Charles and Zita passes.
that same September, with the main earthly remains of its first
Schlarbaum Laureate in the Capuchin Crypt, just blocks away, the
Mises Institute holds its Supporters
Summit in the architectural magnificent
building of the Academy of Sciences in Vienna. Many talks are given.
Mr. Jeffrey Tucker gives a magnificent speech, drawing parallels
with the long, generation-spanning project, full of setbacks, of
building St. Stephen's Cathedral, one of the major landmarks of
Western Civilization, with the fight for liberty.
Stephen's Cathedral, where the main funeral service for Archduke
Otto was held, and from where, together with the crowd in St. Stephen's
Square, the Imperial Anthem was sung, so much represents high time
preference, contrasted with the tendency of our time to consider
ten years extremely long term and a lack of ability or will to see
beyond one's own generation.
bygone age can be restored. But concepts abandoned can indeed be
restored to usage. Let us hope that more long-term thinking is brought
back, together with real constraints on the reach and stretch of
government power. Let us hope that one day, when democratic absolutism,
with its omnipotent government, is defeated, that Habsburg rule
can be restored.
pay tribute to His late Imperial and Royal Highness the Archduke
Otto and his long life on this his centennial.
and white photos are courtesy of ottovonhabsburg.org.
Tomb photo is courtesy of Susan
K. Baltzersen [send him mail]
writes from Oslo, the capital of the Oil Kingdom of Norway.
You are cordially invited to his blog Wilson
Revolution Unplugged and his
writer's profile at The Spoof. He is an associate editor
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Best of Jørn