By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest

Former Crown Prince Otto von Habsburg has died at the age of 98.
Former Crown Prince Otto von Habsburg has died at the age of 98.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Hungary  mourned Monday, July 4, Otto von Habsburg, the oldest son of Austria-Hungary’s last emperor and a longtime member of the European Parliament, who has died at age 98.

His family said Habsburg passed away “peacefully and without pain” Monday, July 4, in his sleep at his home in Pocking Germany, where he lived and stayed out of the public eye since his wife’s death last year.

As news emerged about his death in Budapest, Hungarian lawmakers held a minute of silence in parliament honoring Habsburg’s memory.

He was remembered for his support through speeches given around the world of Hungary’s crushed 1956 revolution against Soviet occupation.  Habsburg also played a key role in opposition against the Moscow-backed Communist regime in Hungary.


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In 1989, he and Hungarian politician Imre Pozsgay helped to organize a Pan-European Picnic on the border between Austria and Hungary, allowing some 700 East German refugees to escape to the West. A reporter of what is now BosNewsLife witnessed how emotional families and small children ran to freedom.


The move eventually lead to the collapse of the Iron Curtain and, eventually, the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also backed Hungary’s efforts to join the European Union.

Following the collapse of communism in 1989, there was even a brief movement in Hungary to make him president, or king, but Habsburg declined.  “His life and fate carried with it the history of the 20th century,” Hungary’s parliamentary speaker Laszlo Kover recalled in remarks on Monday, July 4.

After the fall of communism, “he personally did much to strengthen the process of our European integration,” Kover added. Hapsburg was born in 1912 in Reichenau, Austria, the great-great-nephew of Emperor Franz Josef.

His father, Charles, became heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1914 when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and became emperor two years later.

The empire ended with its defeat in 1918, and Charles died in 1922.


While Hapsburg did not give up his claim to the throne until 1961, he became actively engaged in European politics and an advocate of European unity and peace.

As a young man, he opposed the German annexation of Austria in 1938 and lived in the United States from 1940 to 1944.He reportedly managed to contact President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later claimed to have prevented Allied bombings of a number of Austrian cities by pleading with the U.S. military.

Habsburg was also credited with having helped about 15,000 Austrians, including many Jews, escape the Nazis. He later negotiated Austria’s postwar fate with Roosevelt, Britian’s Winston Churchill and France’s Charles de Gaulle.”Otto von Habsburg was one of the great personalities of modern European history,” said Karl Hafen, head of the German chapter of the International Society for Human Rights in an interview.

Habsburg was educated in several European countries and received a doctorate in political and social sciences at the University of Louvain in Belgium.

He and his late long-time wife, Regina, had seven children. Their eldest son, Karl Habsburg-Lothringen, now runs the family’s affairs and has been the official head of the House of Habsburg since 2007.


Habsburg will be buried July 16 in the Emperor Tomb in Vienna, below the Austrian capital’s Capuchin Church, officials said.Before then, his body will be held in the St. Ulrich church in Poecking for three days for people to pay their respects.

Requiems are also planned for Poecking, Munich, Mariazell, Vienna and Budapest.

Otto Almacht, an aide to Habsburg’s son Georg, told The Associated Press news agency that Otto von Habsburg’s heart would be buried in the Benedictine Abbey in Pannonhalma, central Hungary, where the Catholic Church is the largest denomination. “My father was a towering personality,” Habsburg’s oldest son Karl Habsburg-Lothringen told the Austria Press Agency.

“With him we lose a great European who has influenced everything we do today beyond measure.” (BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos contributed to the story).


  1. I pay my respects to the Head of the oldest dynasty in Europe, Otto von Habsburg. He was born in times of Kaiser Franz Joseph, and was just 4 years old, when he walked with his parents the Blessed Emperor Karl and Empress Zita behind the funeral cortege, which took to the Capuchin Church his great granduncle. The same way, that his sons, grandsons and great grandsons will follow quite soon in Vienna, to take him to the burial place of the Habsburg Imperial and Royal House. Valery Giscard d’Estaing said when he turned 90 years old, “Imperial Highness, you are not any longer the sovereign of a nation, but you are the father of Europe.” Otto Archduke of Austria, Apostolic Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, was the last Imperial and Royal Prince of this vanished world. He fought against Hitler trying to save the freedoms of the old nations of his Empire; he was much cleverer than any foreign minister or primer minster of the time. Even Edward Benes hated so much the Habsburgs, that he said, better Hitler than a Habsburg, few months later, Hitler occupied the former Kingdom of Bohemia. When the tyrant organized the annexation of Austria, called the whole operation as “Otto”, knowing that the young heir to the Habsburgs was struggling against him and the Nazis. Hitler condemned him to death “in absentia”, alongside with his mother Empress and Queen Zita, plus brothers and sisters. His cousins the sons of Archduke Franz Ferdinand were sent to Dachau, with other dynasts. They lived in exile in the USA and Canada during the war. After the war was over, his new foe was Stalin, Otto started a new war of principles and ethics against the Soviet occupation of central and Eastern Europe. He was the man, as a deputy to the European Parliament, who opened the Austrian boundaries, to thousands of Hungarians, in 1989. After that year he enjoyed the end of the Soviet tyranny and Communism and the proclamation of this father as a Blessed Man by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Conrad Adenauer admired him a lot, and amongst our present-day politicians, was Chancellor Schüssel from Austria who called him, the Architect of Modern Europe, when the European and Austrian elites, celebrated the Archduke’s 90th anniversary at the Hofburg (City Imperial Palace in Vienna). God bless him and My Dear Sovereign rest in peace.

  2. He was indeed a great and holy man.
    May his soul now rest in peace.
    I am a journalist and teacher of communication , from India. I had the privilege of talking to him over the phone during my visit to Munich in 1989. It was a lengthy conversation and the topic was India’s history and culture. He wanted to meet me at his residence at Poking.But it did not happen because of previously agreed programmes from his side.But he did sent his son George to the hotel I was staying, to meet me. As a token of appreciation he had also sent me a bottle of exquisite wine, through his son.
    I also remember him requesting me to hand over a small packet to one of his priest- friends in India. It was a medal in honour of his mother Empress Zita.
    The recipient, Rev.Dr.Joseph Thykoodan , was very happy when I gave it to him.
    Rev. Dr.Thykoodan and I had the honour of meeting his gracious wife Regina, son Paul , and his wife at Cohin,Kerala, India, a few years back.
    The hallowed memmory of Otto Von Habsburg will live for ever.
    Ignatius Gonsalves,
    Chief Editor,
    Jeevanaadam( Voice of Life ),
    Cochin, Kerala, INDIA

  3. Dr Otto von Habsburg superb sensitivity, understanding, gracious kindness held my life together.
    I suffered the mosrt horrendous Nazi persecution and the mosrt dreadful Stalinist persecution.
    Every member of our family was murdered and when my Mother the ONLY survivor of Nazism and Bolshevism was murdered on 2nd Jan 1990, I could not shock Dr Habsburg and indicated that she “died”. His Very Warm-hearted condolence greatly helped me in my sufferings, and undoubtedly Dr Habsburg sensed that it was an “unusual” death. He was the most wonderful Personage in my long life and every contact by him was so helpful, so very kind that I survived persecutions because of his saintly goodness.

  4. I am deeply indebted to Dr Otto v Habsburg; after sufferings, what no other human being could have survived,I would leave this cruel world as a happy man, would I live the day of the Beatification of Dr Habsburg would begin. He used his genius and energies to benefit Mankind and rejected the idea of “SELF”. Still we all owe Him to help that future generations would know His name and the example of Goodness, what would enrich the world.

  5. We who had he privilege to know Dr Otto v. Habsburg, do have the duty that future generations could learn that a completely unselfish personage who benefited us by his genius and by his remarkable energies, his wonderful sensitivity was a God-given example for benevolence. One way His example would survive if His Beatification would start soon. So let us hope that men of Good Will would support the mainentance of His gracious memory.

  6. Dr Otto v Habsburg left a legacy to be unselfish, considerate to Others in minute details, benevolent to all without knowing any discrimination. He used His genius and energies to benefit mankind. Hopefully the process of His Beatification would start soon. That would be one link that future generations would learn what true goodness means.


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