Sophie Hohenberg

I grew up with stories of Konopiste and my father’s sadness; because he could not continue to do what his father had done all his life, fight for Konopiste. However, at the time, Konopiste was behind the iron curtain, out of reach, and all my father could do was drive there regularly. We had decided that I would accompany him next time. But there was no next time, my father died in 1977.
Many years later the iron curtain had disappeared, my husband went to Prag for business, on a regular basis, he convinced me to come along and visit Konopiste. It was a very strange experience, for the first time I felt at home, I, who had grown-up in Luxembourg and felt Luxembourgish through and through; I suddenly knew where my roots lay. I was much moved.
A few years later, some friends from Luxembourg, invited us to a pheasant shoot in Konopiste. I had never felt what I felt then, it was as if Konopiste was calling to me. I fought against the tears all day long. It was strange, very emotional, that day I knew that I had to continue my grandfather’s fight, the injustice done to him had to be put (made) right.
Because his mother was not of royal blood, he was not allowed to be a member of the imperial family of Austria. But after the First World War, everything changed in the Czechoslovakian Republic, suddenly he and his siblings were considered as being Habsburgs, they were driven from their family home, deprived of their home country and their property was taken from them without compensation, all because they were their father’s children…
The law voted by the Czechoslovakian Parliament in 1921, so as to apply the treaty of St.Germain and seize the goods and properties of the former sovereign family of Austria and Hungary says: “the goods and properties of (…) particularly the former heir to the throne Franz-Ferdinand d’Este and his descendants.” But my Grandfather, Max Hohenberg never was a member of the former sovereign family of Austria and Hungary, and at that time my Great-grandfather, Archduke Franz-Ferdinand had been dead for almost 8 years. How can you take the goods and properties from a dead person? 
My Parents taught me that a family is like a chain; every member is a link which is supposed to carry on and to pass onto the next generation what it has received. I don’t mean the material things we might receive. We have a responsibility not only towards the ones that come after us, but also towards the ones that have come before us. It is not only our deeds that mirror us, but also the way we have lived! My Grandfather set us all a great example.
So we drove to Konopiste once more, this time with our children. I had to show them and ask them if they wanted me to take up the fight, where my grandfather had left it.
It still took some time, but at the end of the year 2006 my lawyer Dr. Jaroslaw Broz, filed my legal action at the district court in Beneschov.
Since that day the question : « What will you do with Konopiste if you win? » Is regularly put to me.
I believe that this historical house should be opened to the public. I also believe that such a house if it was kept up by the family it historicaly belongs to, could give the public a much more personal insight into it's history. My aim is not to close Konopiste, but to erase a injustice and by doing so, contribute to the reconciliation with our history.
I put my trust into the czech justice and hope that my arguments will be heard.

Dear Visitor,
In 2009 my explanation about my motives for starting this adventure ended here. Now 2013 has just started and I would like to tell you where I stand. My case has been rejected by all the Czech courts, there main argument being that the law 354 is a valid law. In the final decision of the Constitutional court one can read:

“In the proceedings before the District Court of Benešov (first instance) it is clear that Maximilian of Hohenberg had taken the opportunity being offered to him by Law No. 354/1921 Coll. But it was decided that, under the above law he was still considered to be a member of the former ruling family of Austria-Hungary, decision of the Ministry of Interior on 14 January 1922, opinion of Ministry of Agriculture of 4 September 1922, with the explanation that the “family law" of the imperial and royal house concerned exclusively the members of the Austro-Hungarian royal family and were not relevant to the application of the law. “

May I just remind you, that the so-called family law of the Habsburgs is based on an international treaty the Pragmatic sanction; it is not just a domestic law. My Grandfather Max Hohenberg never was a member of the former sovereign family of Austria and Hungary, as it is clearly written in the renunciation Act of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand signed in 1900, 21 years before the Czechoslovakian law n° 354 and 18 year before the creation of Republic of Czechoslovakia. Why the minister of Agriculture had to give his opinion in this case? I wonder. I also wonder why and how 2 Ministries were able to decide whether my Grandfather was a Habsburg or not. This decision had been taken long before the Czechoslovakian Republic existed. Had my Grandfather been a member of the Habsburg family he would have been the next emperor after Franz-Josephs death. The Minister of agriculture and the validity of a law voted just to legalize a theft are just small samples of the things I’ve had to read and hear in the last few years. My lawyer and I then decided to turn to the European court of Human Right in Strasbourg and to file a claim there.
I have just learned that our claim has been rejected. The court found that the condition of acceptability in accordance with articles 34 and 35 of the convention were not fulfilled
The fight must go on even if for the time being I don’t quite know how, giving up just isn’t an option. Any suggestion or help will be welcome….

I would like to profit of this occasion to thank again all those who have sent me a e-mail via this internet site: Thank you for the interest you take in my family’s history, thank you for your support I was very touched by your kindness.

Kindly yours,

Sophie Hohenberg


© 2009 Sophie Hohenberg
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