Otto von Hapsburg, died on July 4th. For the long version of who this fascinating man was, look here. The short version, he was the man who would have been Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary for the past 89 years, if there was still a Kingdom of Hungary or Empire of Austria. He would have been coronated in 1922- and because of that, bad things happened: supporters were butchered by Nazis, possessions were expropriated without appeal, for decades he was a man without a state. And because of that, good things happened- he worked tirelessly for the unity of Europe, even when the Iron Curtain stood between him and his goal.
Here are some exerpts from a very good article by Michael Shields of Reuters:
It was he who spawned the joke in which an aide asks if he had seen the Austria-Hungary football match the night before.
The deadpan reply: "No, whom were we playing?"
"He died peacefully with his family present," a man who identified himself as a grandson said by telephone from Poecking, on Lake Starnberg in southern Germany, where Habsburg had lived since 1954 during a life spent mostly in exile.
He helped arrange a "Pan-European Picnic" on the Austro-Hungarian border in 1989 which led to a brief opening of the Iron Curtain dividing capitalist West from communist eastern Europe, fostering the movement that would lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall a few months later.
His coffin will remain for three days in a church in Poecking, followed by requiem services in Munich, Vienna, Budapest and elsewhere, his website said. http://www.ottovonhabsburg.org
He is expected to be buried at the imperial crypt in Vienna, where dozens of his ancestors lie, after a funeral at St. Stephen's cathedral on July 16, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn told the Kathpress news agency.
The Habsburgs sometimes bury the hearts of their dead separately. A spokeswoman for the family secretariat in Hungary said his heart would interred in the Abbey of Pannonhalma, in western Hungary.
Former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel called him "a great Austrian patriot" who "incorporated pan-European thinking like no other and articulated this already at a time when a dark shadow hung over the continent."
European Commission President Manuel Barroso hailed him as "a great European...who gave an important impetus to the European project throughout his rich life."
Otto was a fascinating man; perhaps even more so than his twice-great-grand-uncle, Francis Joseph, the second to last Emperor, and perhaps not so tragic as Francis Joseph's son Rudolph, whose death, along with Franz Ferdinand's, allowed Otto's father to be the last sitting Hapsburg ruler. Austria's history has always had a magnetic pull on me- and it's late palladin is no exeption. Rest in peace, your highness.
Just so y'all don't miss it, the cap blog features a tale of my youth at the end of the latest post- a tale of a town that formed a big part of the first 3 decades of my life. Check it out, on the "boards 8-9 " post.