Historic Properties Battle: Czech Court Upholds Decision Against Liechtenstein Noble Family’s Claims

In a significant legal development, the Liechtenstein noble family heirs have faced another setback in their ongoing battle to regain historic properties in South Moravia, including the UNESCO-listed Lednice and Valtice chateaus. The Brno regional court of appeal has upheld a previous verdict, ruling that the Czech state and other institutions are not obligated to return the properties to the Liechtenstein family.

The legal dispute centers around properties that the Liechtenstein family lost in 1945 due to the post-war Benes decrees. These decrees provided for the confiscation of property belonging to collaborators, traitors, ethnic Germans, and Hungarians, except those who suffered under the Nazis. The Liechtenstein heirs have argued that the expropriation was unjust, asserting that Prince Franz Joseph II of Liechtenstein, the last holder of the family estates in the Czech Lands, was not a citizen of Germany but of neutral Liechtenstein. They further contended that he was the head of a sovereign state, making the confiscation of family property illegal.

Despite their arguments, the administrative authorities in 1945 maintained that Prince Franz Joseph II had declared his German nationality in the 1930s, leading to the forfeiture of his property to the state after World War II. This disagreement has resulted in a protracted legal battle that has now been reinforced by the recent court decision.

Ales Linhart, the defense lawyer for the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation, stated his intention to file a petition for an appellate review with the Supreme Court in light of this latest ruling. The foundation, undeterred by successive courtroom defeats, has filed eight constitutional complaints and plans to file more if the Supreme Court continues to rule against them.

Foundation spokesperson Michal Ruzicka emphasized that they believe the dispute will ultimately be decided at the international level, asserting that there have been serious violations of fundamental rights in the proceedings within Czech territory.

The Liechtenstein family, historically one of the wealthiest aristocratic families in the region, owned extensive properties in Moravia and the Czech Lands for centuries, including the UNESCO-listed Lednice and Valtice chateau complex. While they lost two-thirds of their property during interwar Czechoslovakia’s land reform, the rest was confiscated after World War II under the Benes decrees. This protracted legal battle highlights the complexities surrounding the historical reclamation of properties and raises questions about the application of post-war decrees in contemporary times.

Article by Prague Forum

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