The Liechtensteins lost their property in 1945, including the Lednice Chateau (pictured), on the basis of the post-war Benes decrees. Credit: Freepik.

Czech Court of Appeal Rejects Liechtenstein’s Property Claims

The Liechtenstein noble family heirs have failed in their attempted legal claims to the family’s historic property in South Moravia, including the UNESCO-listed Lednice and Valtice chateaus, as the Brno regional court of appeal today upheld the verdict ruling that the Czech state and other institutions are not obliged to return the properties.

The Breclav District Court previously turned down a lawsuit filed by the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation demanding the return of property from the state, which, the foundation claimed, was using it unjustly.

The Liechtensteins lost the property in 1945 on the basis of the post-war Benes decrees.

The foundation’s defence lawyer Ales Linhart told journalists after the hearing that he would file a petition for an appellate review with the Supreme Court.

The Liechtenstein foundation filed lawsuits with 26 Czech district courts at the end of 2018, one of which was the court in Breclav. In court documents, the foundation argued that the last holder of the family estates in the Czech Lands, Franz Joseph II, was not a citizen of Germany, but of neutral Liechtenstein, and furthermore was the head of a sovereign state. The confiscation of the family property was therefore illegal, the foundation stated.

However, according to the administrative authorities in 1945, Prince Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein (1906-1989) declared his German nationality in the 1930s and his property was therefore forfeited to the state after World War II.

“We are not surprised by the court’s decision,” said Linhart. “The courts are still ruling in basically the same way and do not want to hear our arguments. We plan a petition for an appellate review with the Supreme Court as in other cases.” 

The foundation has currently filed eight constitutional complaints and plans to file more if the Supreme Court continues to rule against it.

“It has been obvious for a long time that it does not matter how many Czech courts now rule in favour of the Czech state,” foundation spokesperson Michal Ruzicka said in a statement to the media. “The dispute will be decided at the international level, because there have been and are serious violations of fundamental rights in the proceedings that took place in the Czech territory.” 

The 14 state-run institutions that faced the lawsuit at the Breclav court included Czech Forests, the National Heritage Institute, the Morava River Basin Management, and the Czech Nature and Landscape Protection Agency.

The district courts are dealing with the foundation’s claims at a different pace. According to currently available information, the Lichtensteins have not yet succeeded with any of these lawsuits, even subsequently at the Constitutional Court, which rejected the Lichtensteins’ complaint in May in a dispute about real estate in the Kolin area, Central Bohemia, now owned by state companies.

The Liechtensteins were one of the wealthiest aristocratic families in the country, especially in Moravia, where they lived for centuries. The family owned a lot of property, including the UNESCO-listed Lednice and Valtice chateau complex in South Moravia, close to the Austrian border.

The family lost two-thirds of the property through a land reform in interwar Czechoslovakia, and the rest was confiscated after World War II based on president Eduard Benes’s decrees, which provided for the confiscation of the property of collaborators, traitors, ethnic Germans and Hungarians, except for those who themselves suffered under the Nazis, and formed a basis for the transfer of those groups from Czechoslovakia. The Liechtensteins argue the expropriation was unjust.

Czech Court of Appeal Rejects Liechtenstein’s Property Claims
Reader Rating0 Votes