Five youthful years in Vienna. It was then and there that Adolf Hitler's obsession with the Habsburg Imperial family became the catalyst for his vendetta against a vanished empire, a dead archduke, and his royal orphans. That hatred drove Hitler's rise to power and led directly to the tragedy of the Second World War and the Holocaust.
The royal orphans of Archduke Franz Ferdinand-offspring of an upstairs-downstairs marriage that scandalized the tradition-bound Habsburg Empire-came to personify to Adolf Hitler, and others, all that was wrong about modernity, the twentieth century, and the Habsburg's multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were outsiders in the greatest family of royal insiders in Europe, which put them on a collision course with Adolf Hitler.
As he rose to power Hitler's hatred toward the Habsburgs and their diverse empire fixated on Franz Ferdinand's sons, who became outspoken critics and opponents of the Nazi party and its racist ideology. When Germany seized Austria in 1938, they were the first two Austrians arrested by the Gestapo, deported to Germany, and sent to Dachau. Within hours they went from palace to prison. The women in the family, including the Archduke's only daughter Princess Sophie Hohenberg, declared their own war on Hitler. Their tenacity and personal courage in the face of betrayal, treachery, torture, and starvation sustained the family during the war and in the traumatic years that followed.
Through a decade of research and interviews with the descendants of the royal Habsburgs, scholar James Longo explores the roots of Hitler's determination to destroy the family of the dead Archduke. And he uncovers the family members' courageous fight against the Führer.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Hitler at the Hotel Imperial, 1938 1
Chapter 2 The Artist, the Archduke, and the Emperor 11
Chapter 3 Can This Be a Jew? 19
Chapter 4 The Lion and the Lamb 31
Chapter 5 The Granite Foundation 43
Chapter 6 The Spy, the Draft Dodger, and the Peacemaker 54
Chapter 7 Fate 64
Chapter 8 Inscrutable Destiny 75
Chapter 9 A Kind of Dull Cataleptic State 88
Chapter 10 Exiles 102
Chapter 11 The Most Golden Tongued of Demagogues 112
Chapter 12 Impending Horrors 123
Chapter 13 One Blood Demands One Reich 133
Chapter 14 Witches Sabbath 144
Chapter 15 Duel 155
Chapter 16 Bargain with the Devil 168
Chapter 17 The Eleventh Commandment 179
Chapter 18 Apocalypse 188
Chapter 19 The Whole Country Was As If Under a Spell 196
Chapter 20 Phantoms and Patriots 207
Chapter 21 Answered and Unanswered Prayers 218
Chapter 22 The Good Fight 228
Chapter 23 The Destiny of One Family 235
About the Author 315
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Archduke Franz Ferdinand married a Czech woman, and shared the Habsburg commitment to peace. Hitler despised him for those facts. He saw Franz as wanting to marginalize and destroy German Austria. Franz Ferdinand and Sophie’s sons, Maximilian and Ernst, didn’t hesitate in speaking out against the rising Nazis. For that, they earned Hitler’s hatred. They were the first Austrians imprisoned in concentration camps. First at Dachau and later Flossenburg, they were assigned latrine duty. At Flossenburg, they were provided no tools or carts. They had to clean the overflowing toilets with their bare hands. The Habsburg empire was multi-national. Central Europe has known little but disasters since the empire collapsed. The rise of nationalism would have been a problem for Franz had he become emperor, but the world may have been a safer place had he lived. The author wrote this book wondering what became of Franz and Sophie’s orphans. He provides a look at an admirable family that has suffered much, but retained their faith.
"Hitler and the Habsburgs" looks back at the Habsburg Empire and how Hitler’s vision of a pure Aryan nation mandated that it be destroyed. The book starts prior to World War I when Hitler was a poor young man living in Vienna, and Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the future successor to Emperor Franz Joseph, was attempting to ensure peace for Austria through policies of multicultural tolerance and equality. Hitler’s venom and hatred ran totally contrary to such policies and accordingly he was obsessed with destroying the Habsburgs. The book shows how the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand set events in motion that not only led to World War I but ultimately to Hitler's rise to power, World War II, the takeover of Austria by Germany and the eventual demise of the Habsburg Empire. Longo’s book shows the resilience of the family members in surviving Hitler’s invasion and takeover of Austria. While they lost their wealth, their position in society, some were imprisoned in concentration camps, others conscripted to fight a war they abhorred, they never lost their courage, dignity or grace. The book was an absolutely fascinating and enlightening look at history. I thoroughly recommend it! I was privileged to receive a copy of the book from NetGalley and the publisher Diversion Books in exchange for an honest review.