Otto von Hapsburg, the onetime heir to the imperial throne of Austria-Hungary, who during a long career in European politics was a strong proponent of unifying the divided continent, died July 4, 2011 at his home in Pöcking, Germany. He was 98.
Otto was the eldest son of Charles I, who ascended to the Hapsburg throne at the tail end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. was the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary from 1916 until the dissolution of the empire in 1918. Otto was considered by himself, his family and Austro-Hungarian legitimists to be the rightful Emperor-King from 1922
Otto did not, however, fit the part of the exiled would-be monarch waiting for his throne to be restored. He remained deeply involved in the turbulent events of the last century, opposing the Nazi annexation of Austria and later serving two decades as a member of the European Parliament.
Otto von Habsburg was Vice President (1957–1973) and President (1973–2004) of the International Paneuropean Union, and served as a Member of the European Parliament for the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) 1979–1999. In 1961, Francisco Franco offered him the crown of Spain, but he declined on account of the Habsburg dynasty’s long absence from the Spanish throne, and recommended Juan Carlos. As a newly elected Member of the European Parliament in 1979, Otto had an empty chair set up for the countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain in the European Parliament, and took a strong interest in the countries behind the Iron Curtain during his tenure. Otto von Habsburg played a central role in the revolutions of 1989, as a co-initiator of the Pan-European Picnic. Later he would be a strong supporter of the EU membership of central and eastern European countries
The House of Hapsburg was an important royal house of Europe and is best known as supplying all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1452 and 1740, as well as rulers of Spain and the Austrian Empire.
Originally from Switzerland, the dynasty first reigned in Austria, which they ruled for over six centuries, but a series of dynastic marriages brought Burgundy, Spain, Bohemia, Hungary and other territories into the inheritance. In the sixteenth century the senior Spanish and junior Austrian branches of the family separated
The dynasty is named after their seat of origin, the Habsburg Castle founded by Radbot, Count of Habsburg in the Swiss Canton of Aargau.
The origins of the name of the castle are uncertain. Most people assume the name to be derived from the High German Habichtsburg (Hawk Castle), but some historians and linguists are convinced that the name comes from the Middle High German word ‘hab/ hap’ meaning fjord, as there is a river with a ford nearby. The first documented use of the name by the dynasty itself has been traced to the year 1108
Otto von Habsburg has been the head of the House of Habsburg since 1922. He is the former Crown Prince (1916–1918) of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Galicia and Lodomeria and Illyria, and since 1922 the Habsburg pretender to these thrones as well as the titular King of Jerusalem.
In a declaration dated May 31, 1961, Otto renounced all claims to the Austrian throne and proclaimed himself “a loyal citizen of the republic,” a move that he made only after much hesitation and certainly “for purely practical reasons”.
Austria is a landlocked country of roughly 8.3 million people in Central Europe. It borders both Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. It can can be divided into five areas, the biggest being the Austrian Alps. Popular tourist destinations are Salzberg, Vienna and Innsbruck.
November–April is the ideal time to indulge in winter sports and Christmas festivities, while in the summer months, various events like the Salzburg festival can be enjoyed.