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Ulrich von Liechtenstein of Gelderland would not be pleased
September 20, 2009 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Q: Which was the last country in Europe to establish diplomatic relations with the Czech Republic?
A: Liechtenstein.

However, one thorny issue remains. Post-WWII, the Benes Decrees confiscated some land belonging to the Liechtenstein Royal Family situated in the modern-day Czech Republic.


This includes the castles of Valtice (previously Feldsberg) Wiki|Photos 1|Photos 2, an "excellent example of the Baroque style" and Lednice (previously Eisgrub) Wiki|Photos 1|Photos 2, a "result of the Neo-Gothic reconstruction of 1846", which also houses a renowned winter garden. These castles are within a UNESCO World Heritage site.


In 2004, the value of the castles was estimated to be €100m. The area of the land is over 600 sq mi, or ten times the size of the principality of Liechtenstein itself.
posted by djgh (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good post, but I'm shocked - shocked - you didn't mention that Liechtenstein is the world's largest exporter of false teeth.

Also sausage casings, though the article doesn't mention it. Coincidence? Or something more???
posted by smoke at 7:42 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is the most interesting thing to happen in Liechtenstein since it was accidentally invaded by Switzerland a couple of years ago.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:01 PM on September 20, 2009


That Wikipedia article is really badly written: ... The perpetrators and profiteers blundered into the situation, that they became dependent on a perpetuation of the Soviet rule in their countries in order not to be dispossessed again of their booty and to stay unpunished.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:02 PM on September 20, 2009


Of course perpetrators are going to depend on perpetuation, what else would you expect from people like that?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:05 PM on September 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


In August 2009, the British Government Department, HM Revenue & Customs, agreed with the Alpine tax haven to start exchanging information. It is believed that up to 5,000 British investors have roughly £3billion stashed in accounts and trusts in the country[21].

vs. Thatcher's "Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them.". 'course, UK accumulated debt is £658 billions -- so Thatcher is more right than wrong I guess.

But I'm not going to cry too much for the principality's lost land holdings in Czechland. "Robber barons" is from the German for a reason.

But2 as a left-libertarian I'd like to see more of these wacky SeaLands on land not fewer. Someone remind me to get back to work on my SimEcon for iPhone project . . .
posted by Palamedes at 8:11 PM on September 20, 2009


From The Onion: Liechtenstein, Andorra Forced To Fight By Larger Countries.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:12 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've actually played against a team from Liechtenstein once, so please don't belittle this great and powerful country.
We lost.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 8:32 PM on September 20, 2009


Fascinating post. The Czech appropriation of land and expulsion of people was a serious crime.
posted by sien at 9:09 PM on September 20, 2009


^ as was the Hitlerite aggression towards the Czechs in 1938. There's no overall justice in this world, just a settling of accounts.
posted by Palamedes at 9:27 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Liechtenstein... was accidentally invaded by Switzerland...

I think I saw that episode of Monty Python.
posted by rokusan at 10:37 PM on September 20, 2009


sien: In the context of late 40s it's easy to see why the Benes decrees would have been a pretty popular move in the Czech polity. Not that I'm justifying it, 'cause alot of innocent people were hurt and the whole thing does have more than a whiff of mob justice to it - but I'm just sayin' you have to look at it in context.
posted by treyka at 4:40 AM on September 21, 2009


^have to ^ought to
posted by treyka at 4:40 AM on September 21, 2009


I've actually played against a team from Liechtenstein once, so please don't belittle this great and powerful country.
We lost.


So what you're saying is that you were weighed, measured, and found lacking?
posted by thanotopsis at 5:16 AM on September 21, 2009


Lichtenstein is a bustling metropolis when compared to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, population: 3.
posted by Damienmce at 5:17 AM on September 21, 2009


but I'm just sayin' you have to look at it in context

Czechoslovakia got completely screwed in the war, primarily because a large chunk of the Germans in the Sudetenland were fifth columnists.

I read before about the government of Liechtenstein not recognizing the post war Czechoslovak government, but not about these castles that belonged to The Man... it was presented as a protest against the Benes expulsions, in the abstract. Interesting now to hear that it's actually because the hereditary unelected monarch had his shit taken.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:40 AM on September 21, 2009


This is the most interesting thing to happen in Liechtenstein since it was accidentally invaded by Switzerland a couple of years ago.

Heh. I posted that to MeFi when it happened. :)

Anyway...

This is fascinating. Liechtenstein hasn't recognized Slovakia for decades. The Czechs haven't wanted to repeal the Benes decrees for fear that doing so would:
a) be seen as an admission that they owed reparations to Liechtenstein (and Austria, and Hungary....)
and
b) would call the legitimacy of their post-war government into question.

The Max Planck Institute has an analysis (pdf) of the decrees, which mentions (among other things,) that if instituted today, they would prevent the Czech Republic from joining the EU. The analysis also points to some failed lawsuits initiated by members of the Liechtenstein family in German and Czech courts for recovery of property.
posted by zarq at 6:41 AM on September 21, 2009


I read before about the government of Liechtenstein not recognizing the post war Czechoslovak government, but not about these castles that belonged to The Man... it was presented as a protest against the Benes expulsions, in the abstract. Interesting now to hear that it's actually because the hereditary unelected monarch had his shit taken.


Well, to be fair, neither side comes out of this smelling of roses. Sure, the Liechtenstein Royal Family appear as selfish pricks (but that's always been the opinion of many people regarding them, anyway), but the Benes decrees also appear as the rancorous, self-serving land grab that they were: after all, it's difficult to justify with "the Hitlerite aggression" the expropriation of a family which wasn't German, didn't see itself as German, and indeed went out of its way to avoid falling under the German fold (mostly by being obsequiously servile to Nazi Germany, but that's another matter, and it isn't as if the mighty Liechtenstein army could have offered much resistance to the Reich anyway).
posted by Skeptic at 8:33 AM on September 21, 2009


I guess I'm the only one here who's been to Lednice and Valtice--they're both quite impressive castles, though not in the medieval fortress sense. It's more that they're the biggest mansions you've ever seen: the opulence is actually a little boggling.

A few interesting things I remember:
  • The neatest thing at Lednice was a giant, ornate spiral staircase carved from a single piece of wood. (You're not allowed on it.)
  • The winter garden at Lednice is an enormous glass greenhouse, probably two stories tall and a few hundred feet long. We weren't allowed on the inside of the winter garden, but you can go into the gardens surrounding it, and walk the grounds. (There's also a minaret on the other end of the grounds, just because they wanted a minaret, I suppose.)
  • The most memorable part of Valtice was a single enormous room whose walls were covered floor-to-ceiling with paintings. Or at least their gilt frames; not all were filled. Some of them were bigger than a car. There are also elaborate murals on the ceilings. (You have to wear slippers throughout Valtice, to protect the floors--they're serious about the conservation.)
  • The Valtice cellar is a massive wine cellar. There are tastings and a shop, as well.
It's a nice day trip from Brno (or Vienna, I suppose), and I'd recommend seeing them if you get the chance. If I recall correctly, there were English tours available in Lednice, while in Valtice you get a binder with English translations to follow along as you go room to room. Also, if you play a lot of Dwarf Fortress, the descriptions of the Valtice rooms in the binder will seem...familiar. "This is a mahogany table. The table is inlaid with tin and tortoiseshell."
posted by Upton O'Good at 7:39 PM on September 21, 2009


Let's not forget the Schwarzenbergs in this mix - they of the lovely Český Krumlov, and he who was formerly foreign minister and who has now created a new political party (in Czech). It's a complicated situation, one of which Havel once said something like "everyone has a little butter on their fingers."
posted by SpunkyMonkey at 7:47 PM on September 21, 2009


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