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Heir to Hapsburg dynasty is buried.
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Author:  Rubicon [ 17 Jul 2011 05:51 ]
Post subject:  Heir to Hapsburg dynasty is buried.

Thousands mourn last heir of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire - Otto Von Habsburg

Thousands of mourners, many in regalia suggesting a bygone age, joined European royalty for the funeral of Archduke Otto von Habsburg, the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary

Royals including the King and Queen of Sweden mingled with Tyrolean rifleman in full ceremonial dress inside Vienna’s St. Stephen's Cathedral.

In the cobbled square outside, thousands crowded round large screens to watch the funeral on Saturday of a man who had been exiled from Austria for nearly 50 years, from 1918 to 1966. The colourful costumes and plumed helmets reflected the imperial majesty into which von Habsburg, who died on July 4 aged 98, had been born. Funeral of Otto-Von-Habsburg


VIENNA, Austria — Lederhosen-clad Tyrollean guardsmen hoisted the coffin of Otto Von Habsburg onto their shoulders Saturday, carrying the oldest son of Austria's last emperor to rest in a pomp-filled ceremony evocative of the country's past grandeur as a ruler of much of Europe.

Austria shed its imperial past after it lost World War I. But for six hours, the pageantry, colour and ceremony accompanying the Habsburg burial turned downtown Vienna into the city that was once the hub of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Habsburg, who died July 4 at age 98 in southern Germany, was banished with the rest of his family after the collapse of the empire after World War I. The family then scattered across Europe.

To the end, Habsburg never formally renounced the throne -- but on Saturday he gained entry into Vienna's Imperial Crypt, the final resting place of his dynasty, not as emperor but as a mortal stripped of all honours and titles.

Three times, the master of ceremonies knocked on the crypt's doors and twice the coffin was denied entry -- first when Habsburg was named as emperor and holder of dozens of other royal titles, then when his academic and political achievements and other accomplishments were listed.

"We do not know him!" was the response from the Capuchin friars within. The doors opened onto the sun-filled afternoon and into the gloomy half-light of the chapel above the crypt only after Habsburg was described as "Otto -- a mortal and a sinner."

The crypt was the last stop for the 1.2-kilometre (0.75-mile) crowd of mourners packing the 2.4-kilometre (1.5-mile)route from the Gothic cathedral where Habsburg was eulogized earlier in the day. Police estimated that 10,000 spectators lined the route.

Austrian army units in slow funeral march step were followed by a gurney carrying the coffin, covered with the yellow-black Habsburg flag and flanked by the Tyrollean home guardsmen. Next came close family members, then crowned heads from Europe, Austrian government leaders, clergy, men in fanciful Habsburg regiment colours and others dressed in less spectacular garb

The elaborate ceremony in Vienna's St. Stephen's cathedral also evoked the grandeur of the 640-year Habsburg dynasty. The Gothic church was packed, as colorfully clad guardsmen, light cavalry units called dragoons, Hungarian hussars, sword-bearing members of student guilds and representatives other uniformed formations harking back centuries mingled with somberly clad mourners.

Two floral crosses of roses were placed on the coffin -- one for Habsburg's seven children, the other for his grand- and great grandchildren. Two giant floral arrangements of 500 white roses and 200 red carnations stood near the coffin.

In another symbolic bow to the Habsburgs, seven bishops from nations of the former Austro-Hungarian empire -- seven countries plus parts of modern-day Montenegro, Italy, Poland, Romania and Serbia and Ukraine -- assisted Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

The ceremony included singing the old Imperial Hymn praising the emperor -- although many in the pews stayed silent, reflecting a widespread critical view of the monarchy in modern-day Austria.

The coffin of Habsburg's wife, Regina, who died last year, was taken to the crypt earlier Saturday. It has been the final resting place for members of the Habsburg dynasty since 1632 and a prime Vienna tourist attraction.

The crypt also contains the hearts of the Habsburgs in urns separate from the coffins. But Habsburg's heart was to be encrypted Sunday in the Benedictine Abbey in Pannonhalma, central Hungary on his request, to reflect the affection he held for Hungary, Austria's 19th century partner in the Austro-Hungarian empire.

While never formally renouncing his right to the throne, Habsburg in his later life became an outspoken supporter of parliamentary democracy and a fighter for a united Europe. He used his influence in a vain struggle to keep the Nazis from annexing Austria before World War II, then campaigned for the opening of the Iron Curtain in the decades after the war.

In a message read by Papal Nunzio Peter Stephan Zurbriggen, Pope Benedict XVI praised the gaunt, bespectacled scion of the Austrian empire who was also a member of the European Parliament as a "great European ... who engaged himself tirelessly for the peace and coexistence of peoples and for a fair system on this continent."

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek spoke of the special affection his Polish countrymen and others in Soviet-ruled Eastern Europe had for Habsburg because of his efforts to unify the continent during the Cold War.

"It was very important to us ... on the opposite side of the Iron Curtain," he said.

European royals were among the VIPs in the front pews as incense-swinging clergy and the first chords of Michael Haydn's Requiem in C-Minor signalled the start of the Mass.

Among them were Sweden's king and queen; the ruling grand duke and grand duchess of Luxembourg; Liechtenstein's ruling duke and duchess; the former kings of Romania and Bulgaria, and representatives of the British, Belgian and Spanish ruling houses.

Before the start of the Mass, they and family members stood silently in front of the coffin, heads bowed in respect.

With the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, Habsburg used his seat in European Parliament to lobby for expanding the European Union to include former Eastern bloc nations. He was a member of the European Parliament for the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union in southern Germany and also served as president of the Pan-European League from 1979 to 1999.

Karl, the eldest son of Otto and Regina Habsburg, now runs the family's affairs and has been the official head of the House of Habsburg since 2007.

AP Saturday Jul. 16, 2011

Author:  Rubicon [ 17 Jul 2011 08:08 ]
Post subject:  Re: Heir to Hapsburg dynasty is buried.

This man did a lot to help those who had been trapped behind the iron curtain, both before and after the fall of communism. Von Habsburg was an early supporter of European union. He was president of the International Paneuropean Union from 1973 to 2004, and an MEP from 1979 to 1999.

In 1989 he was instrumental in organising the ‘Pan-European Picnic’ at the Hungary-Austria border, an event often considered to have helped hasten the collapse of Communist dictatorships in eastern Europe.

Pan-European Picnic on 19 August 1989

From Wikipedia

The Pan-European Picnic was a peace demonstration held on the Austrian-Hungarian border near the town of Sopron on 19 August 1989, an important event in political developments which led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany. It was organised by Otto von Habsburg and Imre Pozsgay.

The 1989 events

In a symbolic gesture agreed to by both countries, a border gate on the road from Sankt Margarethen im Burgenland (Austria) to Sopronkőhida (Hungary) was to be opened for three hours. About 6 km (3.7 mi) away from this spot on 27 June 1989, Austria's then foreign minister Alois Mock and his Hungarian counterpart Gyula Horn had together cut through the border fence, in a move highlighting Hungary's decision to dismantle its surveillance installations along the border, a process started on 2 May 1989.

More than 600 East Germans seized the opportunity presented by this brief lifting of the Iron Curtain and fled into the west. In the run-up to 19 August, the organisers of the Pan-European Picnic had distributed pamphlets advertising the event. Before the event started, the Hungarian border guards received the order from the Ministry of the Interior of Hungary, which ordered them not to intervene in the event and not to bear any arms at the day of the event. At the time the Hungarian border guards even helped people to flee across the border.


In Budapest and around the Lake Balaton, thousands more East Germans were waiting for their chance to cross the border, not believing that the border would be opened, and not trusting the procedures in place. The number of people who crossed the border into the west on the day of this event was therefore limited to no more than a few hundred. Over the next few days, the Hungarian government increased the number of guards patrolling its western border, so that only a relatively small number actually reached the west successfully. But in fact the reason that a relatively small number of people went through the border after the picnic is that the East Germans were informed by the Hungarian guards that they could obtain West German passports issued by West German diplomats working in Hungary.


As a result, many East Germans temporarily stayed in Hungary waiting for the issue of passport and the event to unfold. On 11 September 1989, Hungary opened its borders for citizens of the German Democratic Republic and other Eastern European countries. This was the first time that the border of an Eastern European country officially opened for their citizens. It marked the start of the fall of Iron Curtain. Only a few months after the opening, more than 70,000 people fled to the West through Hungary.

The picnic was organised by members of four Hungarian opposition parties, the Hungarian Democratic Forum the Alliance of Free Democrats, the Fidesz and FKGP. The event's patrons were CSU MEP Otto von Habsburg (then head of the house of Habsburg and pretender to the Austro-Hungarian throne) and the Hungarian Minister of State and reformer Imre Pozsgay.

East Germany's Erich Honecker gave the following statement to the Daily Mirror on the Pan-European Picnic:

Habsburg distributed pamphlets right up to the Polish border, inviting East German holiday-makers to a picnic. When they came to the picnic, they were given presents, food and Deutschmarks, before being persuaded to go over to the west.



Today the place of the picnic is marked by a monument of Miklós Melocco, by a bell presented from the city of Debrecen (from where the idea of the Picnic emerged), a pagoda presented by the Association of the Japanese–Hungarian Friendship and by a wooden monument unveiled by the organisors in 1991. A large artwork symbolizing a Cross and a barbed wire can be found at the Cave Theatre of Fertőrákos, a few kilometres from the site. The artwork was made by Gabriela von Habsburg, a daughter of Otto von Habsburg.

The Pan-European Picnic is considered a highly significant milestone in the efforts that led to the end of the GDR and to the German reunification. Commemorative ceremonies are held each year on 19 August at the place where the border was opened.

In 2009, Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, visited festivities marking the 20th anniversary and thanked Hungarians for courage and foresight: "Two enslaved nations together broke down the walls of enslavement... and Hungarians gave wings to East Germans' desire for freedom."

Hungarian President László Sólyom unveiled a white marble monument in memory of those who had risked their life to cross the Iron Curtain.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said that "We must remain an open Europe of open societies and open minds, open to others beyond our present boundaries".

Images added by wiz

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