Brief chronicle of the life of Karel Schwarzenberg


Karel Schwarzenberg during the war in the park at Čimelice (SA Murau).

10 December, birth of Karel Jan (Karl Johannes) Schwarzenberg in Prague as the older son of Dr. Karl VI Schwarzenberg (1911–1986) and Antonia Leontina of Fürstenberg (1905–1988). In the historic succession of the Schwarzenbergs he is Karl VII, with a Czech father and Austrian mother; Czech and German are spoken in the family. Karel Schwarzenberg holds Czechoslovak (Czech) and Swiss citizenship from birth. He has three siblings: a younger brother Friedrich (Bedřich), an older sister Marie Eleonora, and the youngest of the family, Anna Marie. The family is one of the junior “Orlice” branches (secundogeniture) of the historic line of the Schwarzenbergs.

Shortly before the Munich Agreement a group of noblemen pledge loyalty to President Beneš, supporting the integrity of Czechoslovakia; one of the signatories to the agreement is Karl VI Schwarzenberg.

On 17 August, the Gestapo confiscate all the property of the senior (Hluboka-Krumlov) branch of the family (primogeniture). Karel’s uncle Adolph Schwarzenberg had already emigrated (first to Italy, later the USA), while Adolph’s brother Heinrich Schwarzenberg is imprisoned by the Nazis.

On 10 July, the Czechoslovak government decide on the expropriation of all the Czech property of the senior branch of the family (primogeniture) based on what became known as the Lex Schwarzenberg.

After the February coup d’état, the property of the junior branch of the Schwarzenberg family is nationalised. On 3 December, Antonia Leontina Schwarzenberg emigrates to Austria with the children (Karl VI Schwarzenberg is already abroad). They live in Strobl with their Fürstenberg grandmother, who helps to support the family. Their father works as a librarian for the Amerika Haus in Salzburg, while their mother contributes to the family income by selling aluminium roofs.

After the death of Grandmother Furstenberg, the family moves into an apartment in Jacquingasse in Vienna. Their father is employed by the Schwarzenberg archives in Murau and they receive appanage from their relations. Their mother holds a salon in Vienna, visited by leading personalities from not only Austria but almost the whole world.

Karel Schwarzenberg graduates from gymnasium in Vienna. During his studies, he becomes involved in the student Roman Catholic movement. He undergoes thorough teaching in Czech and European history with his father, while his mother prepares him for life among the higher social circles.

KS completes forestry practice in Murau in Styria and begins to study forestry management in Munich and, later, law in Vienna. However, he does not complete his studies, as he takes over the management of the family property.

KS is adopted by Dr. Heinrich Schwarzenberg (1903–1965), representative of the senior branch of the Schwarzenbergs. From the beginning of the 1960s to the end of the 1980s, KS works with the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and is involved inter alia in its reorganisation.

On the death of his Uncle Heinrich, KS inherits the position of representative of the senior branch of the family; he is awarded the title of Duke of Krumlov. He advances part of the Austrian property to his stepsister, Heinrich’s daughter Elisabeth Pezold, née Schwarzenberg.

On 22 April, Karel Schwarzenberg marries Therese zu Hardegg auf Glatz und im Machlande, b. 1940) and devotes himself to the management of his estates at the chateau Murau. On 13 December, birth of a son, Jan Nepomuk Ondřej.

In July KS visits Czechoslovakia for the first time in twenty years. On 16 December, birth of a daughter, Anna Karolina. Therese Schwarzenberg begins to work as a doctor in the Regional Hospital at Stolzalpe.

After the death of Josef III, the title passes from the senior branch to KS. His title is now Prince of Schwarzenberg, Duke of Krumlov, Count of Sulz and Princely Landgrave of Klettgau. On 12 May, birth of a son, Karel Filip, later (1987) adopted by his biological father Thomas Prinzhorn.

On the proposal of the Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, Karel Schwarzenberg becomes President of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF).

On 15 October, during the official European Cultural Forum in Budapest, the IHF summons a parallel cultural symposium; the authorities try to stop it, without success.

After the death of his father (9 April), KS becomes head of the second branch of the family (secundogeniture); thus both branches of the family are united in his person. He becomes one of the founding members of the Documentation Centre for the Support of independent Literature in Czechoslovakia in exile. From November, the centre has its seat in Castle Schwarzenberg in Scheinfeld in Bavaria.

In mid-June, Karel Schwarzenberg and Václav Havel meet in Prague for the first time.

25–31 January, KS visits Moscow at the head of a delegation from the IHF. The delegation holds talks with representatives of Soviet official institutes and with dissidents. 18 October, Karel and Therese Schwarzenberg divorce. On 5 November, the Czechoslovak Helsinki Committee is founded in Prague on the initiative of the IHF; Václav Havel is among its founding members. On 13 November, after police intervention prevents the holding of the international seminar Czechoslovak ’88 called by representatives of Charter 77 and other civic initiatives in Prague on 11 November, the IHF organises a parallel conference in Vienna.
As KS’s late uncle Heinrich had wished, the indivisibility of the Schwarzenberg property is ensured by transferring all ownership in Austria to the family foundation in Liechtenstein (12 December).

5–9 March, Karel Schwarzenberg visits Prague at the head of an IHF delegation negotiating with representatives of civic initiatives and of official institutions – the Committee of the Czechoslovak Public for Human Rights and the Czechoslovak Peace Committee.
From 21–25 April, KS chairs the annual general meeting of the IHF in Warsaw, in which representatives of 14 national Helsinki Committees and guests from three more countries take part. He lays flowers on the grave of the Roman Catholic priest Jerzy Popieƚuszko, murdered in October 1984 by members of the Polish secret police.
On 10 May, KS receives the European Award for Human Rights that the Council of Europe awarded to the International Helsinki Federation (IHF) and to Lech Wałęsa.
From 3–5 November, KS participates in a seminar on Central European Culture in Wrocław in Poland and then joins representatives of Czechoslovak exile and dissent to meet representatives of Solidarity.
On 29 December, KS takes part in a ceremonial mass in the Cathedral of St. Vitus in honour of the newly elected president Václav Havel. The mass is celebrated by Cardinal František Tomášek.

On 10 July, Karel Schwarzenberg is named the Head of the Office of President Václav Havel (Chancellor).

KS wins back property nationalised in 1948, including Orlík, Sedlec, Čimelice and extensive land. (The primogeniture property remains in the hands of the state.)

On 20 July, following the abdication of President Václav Havel, KS resigns from his office as Head of the Office of President. From 1992–1999, he takes an active part every year in the Schwarzenberg meetings, a conference organised by the Documentation Centre in Scheinfeld.

Until his election as senator (2004), Karel Schwarzenberg, as well as looking after the family property, undertakes extensive charitable and cultural activities and is involved in public relations at home and abroad.

On 15 December, KS signs the founding document of the public beneficiary society, the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre, as co-founder; from then until the present day he has been a member of either the Board of Directors or the Supervisory Body.

On 28 October, President Havel invests KS with the Order of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.

On 26 July, Karel Schwarzenberg as co-founder signs the foundation document of the Václav Havel Library.
On 13 November, he is elected to the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic for Prague 6; he is nominated by a coalition of the Union of Freedom/Democratic Union (US-DEU) with the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA). He remains Senator until 28 May 2010, and a member of the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) until its dissolution in 2007.

KS flies to Cuba for a meeting of dissident groups but is held by police and expelled. He is awarded the Honorary Badge of Merit for services to the Austrian Republic.

Proposed on 9 January by the Green Party, KS is named Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic in Miroslav Topolánek’s goverment; he holds this post until 9 May 2009.

On 22 August, Karel Schwarzenberg remarries his former wife Therese. He is awarded the Order of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany.

On 25 November, KS receives the Central Europe Award from the Institut für den Donauraum und Mitteleuropa with its seat in Vienna. On 28 November, he founds the political party TOP 09 and is elected Chairman.

In the elections of 28–29 May for the lower house of Parliament, Karel Schwarzenberg is elected deputy for TOP 09. On 13 July, he is named Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of Petr Nečas; he holds this office until 10 July 2013. In this government, he is also First Deputy Premier.

On 2 December, KS receives the Marion Dönhoff Preis für internationale Verständigung und Versöhnung at a ceremonial gathering in Hamburg from the hands of Wolf Biermann, who opens the laudatio with the words Der Genosse Fürst, mein liebster Klassenfeind.

In elections held in January, Karel Schwarzenberg stands for President. In the first round he comes second; in the second round he receives 45.19% of the vote, against 54.80% for Miloš Zeman.
On 20 June, he is awarded the Alois Mock Europa Preis for 2012. In early elections on 25–26 October, KS is elected to the lower house of parliament and becomes chairman of the Foreign Committee of the Chamber of Deputies.

At a conference of TOP 09 on 29 November, KS resigns the chairmanship of the party and is elected its honorary chairman.

In the October elections to the Chamber of Deputies (lower house), Karel Schwarzenberg leads the candidates of TOP 09 in Prague and resumes as member of parliament.