Here is my kin.
Elisabeth von Pezold wants the return of property expropriated by the Czechoslovak state in 1947.
However, her adopted brother, Karel Schwarzenberg, the Czech Republic’s foreign minister, apparently does not.
The homes include the Cesky Krumlov castle, a jewel in the crown of Czech tourism which towers over an ancient town in southern Bohemia.
But Mrs von Pezold claims that her brother, one of the republic’s most popular politicians, has blocked her case.
She argues that the Prince of Schwarzenberg, to use his formal title, has failed to fulfil the wishes of their father, whose will asked that his successor should fight to get the property back.
Law360, New York (February 11, 2016, 6:59 PM EST) — A Swiss-German family whose farms and forest holdings were seized by Zimbabweans during the government’s “land reform” of the 2000s is owed at least $130 million and perhaps more than $310 million by the country’s government, according to a decision from the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes made public this week.
In a ruling marked by sweeping assessments of history, politics, power and what could have been for the struggling African country, an ICSID panel said the government of Robert Mugabe bears responsibility…
Elisabeth von Pezold, née Princess of Schwarzenberg-Frauenberg
Princess Elisabeth of Schwarzenberg was born on 1 October 1947 in Vienna as the only daughter of Prince Heinrich Schwarzenberg, Duke of Krumlov, and his wife Eleonore Schwarzenberg, Countess of Stolberg-Stolberg. Because of his exemplary anti-Fascist and pro-Czechoslovak stance during the war he was imprisoned by the Gestapo i.a. in KZ Buchenwald and became a forced labourer until the end of the war. Since 1945 her father was groundlessly barred from returning to Czechoslovakia, and so Elisabeth grew up with her parents in Gusterheim near Pöls in Styria, where she attended the local elementary school. Later, she moved with her parents to the Schwarzenberg Palais in Vienna so that she could attend the Sacre Coeur Catholic Grammar School
In Vienna, Elisabeth lived not only with her parents, but also with her aunt, Princess Eleonore Schwarzenberg and her uncle, Prince Joseph Schwarzenberg, the last head of the family.
After 1945, Elisabeth’s father managed to win the restitution of the property of Prince Adolph Schwarzenberg in Germany and Austria confiscated by the Gestapo in 1940. He then managed this property for his cousin and adoptive father as its general trustee. For his part, Heinrich owned Gusterheim Castle, which he had inherited from his father Felix in 1946. Adolph died in 1950, making Heinrich his universal heir. With much effort, he managed to rebuild the family’s Vienna palais, which had been partially destroyed by wartime bombing, while his wife devoted herself to looking after the expansive park.
Elisabeth’s father Heinrich died in 1965, the same year she successfully completed grammar school and began studying art history and archeology at the university in Freiburg im Breisgau, where her father had applied for her to stay at the Catholic hall of residence. Elisabeth later continued her studies in Bonn and in Munich.
On 31 May 1970, Elisabeth married Rüdiger von Pezold in Gusterheim. The couple then moved to Munich, where he worked as an attorney. In 1971 their daughter Anna was born, followed over the next twelve years by one more daughter, Juliane, and five sons – Heinrich, Georg Philipp, Felix, Johann, and Adam.
Following the completion of renovations at Gusterheim Castle, the family moved in, devoting itself to managing the agricultural and forestry holding inherited from Elisabeth’s father. The Pezolds restructured their farm and forestry activities with an emphasis on natural forestry and a reduction in the number of ungulate game. Over the years, Elisabeth reforested 500 hectares of primarily high-mountain land in order to protect the landscape from avalanches. Here she invested some four million Euros, also to clean up streams and rivers. Elisabeth von Pezold also established fish ladders and restored dried-up stream beds so that they could be suitable for fish again.
The 1980s were marked by the battle against emissions from two state-owned industrial companies that threatened local forests and human health. After many years of court hearings and official negotiations, Elisabeth and her husband and neighbours succeeded in effecting the closure of the nearby ÖDK Zeltweg thermal power station and the establishment of a new cellulose factory in Pöls reflecting technical and safety standards.
From 1975 to 1995, Rüdiger von Pezold was chairman and director general of the ducal foundations in Coburg. Besides the management of the ample forests his main task was to look after the foundation’s collection of furniture, art, and coins, as well as the renovation of the castle and family mausoleum in Coburg and Castle Greinburg in Upper Austria with the aim of opening them to the public. In these efforts, Elisabeth’s extensive knowledge of art was of great help, as she put to use both her knowledge of art as well as her experiences from renovating her patronage church of St. James in Frauenburg, Styria, which she led personally.
In 1979, Elisabeth provided her house in Unzmarkt to the disposition of Professor Franz Schwarzenberg-Orlik and his wife Amelie when they came to Austria from the United States after his retirement. Later Elisabeth was adopted by Amelie Schwarzenberg-Orlik.
An important chapter in Elisabeth’s life began in 1988, when she and her husband acquired Forrester Estate in Zimbabwe. In addition to managing the business, they built new dams for 28 million cubic meters of water, and an irrigation system to go with it. On their African farm, the couple also expanded medical care and provided education for the local inhabitants. In the 1990s, the Pezolds established a polytechnic college, with all the equipment generously provided by the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of political developments in Zimbabwe, however, the college was never opened – as part of the country’s so called land reform, the state took over the location and the school was demolished.
In 1998, the couple handed over the management of their African holdings to their 27-year-old son Heinrich, in order to transfer responsibility for managing their expansive agricultural and forestry holdings. As a result, the couple gained more time for the exceptionally complex and time-demanding work associated with the unexpected duty to push for the restitution of Adolph Schwarzenberg’s property confiscated in Czechoslovakia. After her adoptive brother Karel Schwarzenberg had failed to comply with his promise to meet his obligations contained in the will of her father regarding the restitution of this property, Elisabeth has become the only person engaged in the restitution process. The restitution concerns her grandfather Adolph Schwarzenberg’s property confiscated by the Gestapo in 1940 and since 1945 held by the Czechoslovak, and later the Czech state, in violation of the law and the constitution. In order to properly devote herself to the issue, Elisabeth acquired Czech citizenship and moved to Prague in 1993.
In December 1994, Elisabeth’s mother passed away in Gusterheim, surrounded by family. With Amelie Schwarzenberg, however, the Pezolds’ children continue to have a loving and loved Czech grandmother.
In 2003, Elisabeth acquired a house in Prague’s Smichov district, which she renovated with the help of her son Georg Philipp. Since then, she has lived there with her husband. Currently, her son Adam is living with his parents in Prague and working there for a company which refurbishes historic listed houses.
Following years of court hearings, in 2007 the High Court in Vienna ruled that Karel Schwarzenberg forfeited his inheritance from Heinrich Schwarzenberg in favour of Heinrich’s daughter Elisabeth if he failed culpably to fulfil the duty assigned to him by the will of his adoptive father Heinrich Schwarzenberg to actively work towards the return of the confiscated Czech property of Adolph Schwarzenberg. The Austrian High Court’s ruling returned the case to the court of first instance for, among other things, clarification of this issue.
In 2009, Elisabeth von Pezold was able to celebrate another legal victory when the Czech Constitutional Court warranted that the family’s tomb in Domanin near Trebon and other property that had not been confiscated had to be returned.
Elisabeth is the proud grandmother of eight grandchildren, who visit her in Prague and whom she visits at their homes in Zimbabwe, England, and Austria.