Sunday, November 18, 2012

Members of the Family in Vienna

Two days ago, Prince Nikolaus of Liechtenstein was in Vienna to deliver a speech as part of the European Prize Coudenhove-Kalergi 2012 ceremony. This year's award was given to the president of the European Council Herman van Rompuy. The award ceremony was held to kick off the festivities of 90 years of Paneuropa. Prince Nikolaus is the vice-president of the European Society Coudenhove-Kalergi.

In 1923, Count Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi published the manifesto "Paneuropa", that presented the idea of a unified European State. The same year the Paneuropean Union was founded. In more recent years it became closely associated with the late Archduke Otto of Austria, the last crown prince of the Austro-Hungarian empire, also known as Otto von Habsburg, who was the president from 1973, when he took over from Count Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi, until 2004.

The Paneuropean Union is probably most famous, at least where humble me lives, for organising the Pan-European Picnic at the Austro-Hungarian border in August 1989. Otto von Habsburg, Hungarian Minister of State and reformer Imre Pozsgay and the other organisers distributed flyers to East-Germans on holiday in Hungary to come join the picnic. During the course of the picnic the border between Hungary and Austria was opened for about three hours allowing more than 600 East Germans to flee via Austria to Western Germany - marking the start of the fall of the Iron Curtain. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall about three months later about 70.000 East-Germans would cross the Austro-Hungarian border to flee to the West.

At least two of Archduke Otto's children, namely Archduke Karl, head of the Habsburg-Lorraine family, and Archduchess Walburga (also known as Walburga Habsburg Douglas) were also in Vienna for the three day event. Archduke Imre, son of Otto's nephew Archduke Carl-Christian and his Luxembourgish wife Princess Marie-Astrid and thus nephew of aforementioned Prince Nikolaus, also was among the guests.

Source: Profimedia, Paneuropa, Moi