Adolph Schwarzenberg had been a staunch supporter of the first Czechoslovak Republic right from the beginning. Despite the substantial property losses the family had endured in the cause of the first land reform, he remained an untiring supporter of the Czechoslovak Republic. It was also in this spirit that Adolph Schwarzenberg volunteered for the Czechoslovak army despite having already served in the First World War and being already rather old for military service.

As his predecessors before him, one of whom had introduce the Schwarzenberg pension system, which was one of the first of its kind anywhere, Adolph took his responsibility for his employees and people living in his area very seriously.

Already in 1937 Dr Schwarzenberg saw the danger that the increasingly powerful German Reich under Hitler posed to the young Czechoslovak Republic. Therefore he invited President Benes to visit him in his castle Cesky Krumlov, where he then donated the very substantial sum of 1 000 000 CZK specifically for the defence of the Republic against Nazi Germany. This was by no means to be the last encounter between Benes and Schwarzenberg, as they developed a friendly relationship, as becomes apparent in their correspondence.

Also in Austria he openly opposed the new regime- for example when Hitler was celebrating his victory in Vienna, Dr Schwarzenberg ordered all his houses, including the prominent Palais Schwarzenberg in the centre of Vienna, to fly the black flag. When the Nazis ordered that all parks were closed to Jews, Schwarzenberg opened the extensive parks of the Palais Schwarzenberg to the public for the first time in history, with a sign which read “here Jews are welcome”.

When Hitler visited Cesky Krumlov and demanded to be met by the family, Adolph and Heinrich Schwarzenberg refused to receive him.


These and numerous other acts of resistance and opposition to the Nazi regime forced Dr Adolph Schwarzenberg to flee from the sphere of influence of Nazi Germany to his exile in the United States. His cousin and adoptive son, Dr Heinrich Schwarzenberg, became his plenipotentiary. However, given the latter´s continued resistance, the entire estate of Dr Adolph Schwarzenberg was seized by the Gestapo in 1940 and Dr Heinrich Schwarzenberg was arrested on direct orders of the Head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, and personally interrogated by SS Obergruppenführer Ernst Kasltenbrunner, eventually the head of the Reichssicherheitsdienst, the secret service of the SS, and after a number of police prisons, including the infamous Pankrac prison of Prague, was deported to Buchenwald concentration camp. There he was to remain until 1944, when he was moved to become a forced labourer in the arms industry until the end of the war.

During his exile in the USA, Dr Adolph took a PhD degree at the University of Columbia and was actively involved in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Also, despite having lost all assets within the reach of Nazi Germany, Schwarzenberg continued to support the Czechoslovak exile government in London financially with the remaining income he had from his overseas enterprise producing tinned food for the allied forces.

In this period he also became friends with Jan Masaryk and the Czechoslovak consul Karel Hudec. Both were to testify his outstanding pro-Czech attitude and opposition to the Nazi regime.


Immediately after the end of the war the entire estate of Dr Adolph Schwarzenberg in the Czechoslovak territory was placed under national administration, due to the absence of the owner. However, when both Dr Adolph and Dr Heinrich Schwarzenberg applied to return to their country of birth, the Czechoslovak authorities denied their application and forbade their return.

On 21 June 1945, Presidential Decree No. 12/1945 on the expropriation of the agricultural assets of “Germans, Hungarians and Nazi collaborators” was issued. On 4 October 1945, the District National Committee of Ceske Budejovice unjustifiably stated that Adolph Schwarzenberg was German, as defined by this Decree and his entire Czech properties were confiscated under this decree. This decision was delivered to his lawyer in Prague on 5 October 1945, with instructions that an appeal could be made within two weeks. The appeal was then duly lodged on the grounds that Schwarzenberg was not German as defined by the Decree. In additional, exemption from confiscation was applied for after the Decree was issued, on the grounds that he had taken part in the struggle for the liberty and territorial integrity of Czechoslovakia. This appeal against the confiscation was never concluded by the Czechoslovak authorities, nor by those of it successor state, today’s Czech Republic. Therefore this case is presently pending for 67 years, making it one of the longest pending cases anywhere today.

In 1946 The Provincial National Committee in Prague compiled a report concerning the question of Adolph Schwarzenberg’s property confiscation and stated that the owner could not be considered a traitor or a German and that consequently his property was not subject to the decree in question (No. 12/1945, coll.). Furthermore it ordered that Schwarzenberg be paid 100.000 crowns to cover his expenses while a conclusion of procedures relating to his property was sought. This, however, did not deter the Czechoslovak government, increasingly under communist influence, from pocketing the estate without any compensation to the owner. In view of the fact that there was no legal basis for expropriating Adolph Schwarzenberg, on July 10, 1947 the Czechoslovak parliament promulgated a special law, 143/1947, coll., later to be known as Lex Schwarzenberg to secure his business assets for the state without giving a reason or offering compensation. This law was signed by President Benes on 10.07.1947. It has proved to be highly controversial as it is a piece of arbitrary ad hominem legislation. As such it contravenes the Czechoslovak Constitution of 1920 , which was in force at the time, as well as the current Constitution of the Czech Republic. Numerous ministries pointed this out to President Beneš and further urged him not to sign the act, as they found it to be so badly drafted that it would not be possible to enact it.

From then on till today this law promulgated in breach of the very foundations of the rule of law,  has been used as an excuse to tarnish the reputation of Adolf Schwrzenberg and thus to refuse to return his property to its rightful owners.

POST 1989

After the collapse of the communist regime, the granddaughter of Dr Adolph Schwarzenberg took up the struggle for the abolition of the Lex Schwarzenberg and for the subsequent return of the property stolen from her family.

In this process Czech courts have used the Lex Schwarzenberg in order to retain the property. This proves that this legislative relic, which contravenes the Czech Constitution as well as the Charta of Human Rights is still an active part of the Czech Legal system.

In 1994, in an attempt to deny Elisabeth Pezold´s claims, the land authority Ceske Budejovice referred to an investigation by the Czechoslovak Ministry of Finance from the year 1981, claiming that the said investigation had reached the conclusion, that the property of Dr Adolph Schwarzenberg had been seized through the act 143/1947. Furthermore, the land authority Ceske Budejovice argued, that the said investigation had stated that the act 143/1947 had “ex lege” effect, meaning that its content immediately took effect without any further steps by the authorities having been necessary. Since then the Czech state has claimed that this “ex lege” effect, which is not referred to in the law, not assumed to be part of similar legislation of the time (e.g. 142/1947 coll.) and had previously never been mentioned. Also the fact that the transfer of the properties were only written into the land registry between August 1948 and the 1950s is a clear sign that this is simply untrue.

Furthermore, the report of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Finance of 1981 referred to above,  in fact stated the exact opposite to what the land authority had claimed. It stated that the property of Dr Adolph Schwarzenberg had been lost through misuse of the Benes decrees, rather than through the Lex Schwarzenberg, which was merely a tool of redistribution of the stolen estate.

Therefore the Czech state has knowingly mislead the courts, and lied to the granddaughter of Dr Adolph Schwarzenberg about the content of the report, which lead the courts to believe the concept of the ex lege effect of 143/1947 coll. which they still apply against her today.

Another inconsistency in the states application of the law 143/1947, is that the Republic only considers those aspects of it, which are in the states supposed interest, to be valid.

For example Article 1 Paragraph 2 explicitly defines that it only concerns “operational property in agriculture, forestry, fishery, industry, trade & commerce” yet non-operational buildings, art collections and other personal belongings were grabbed by the State as well and kept as stolen property till today.

Furthermore, article 2 paragraph 3 states that “The county of Bohemia is obliged to preserve historical buildings, the property of which it gains by virtue of this law.” A look at the ruinious state of Postoloprty castle, to name but one, will make it quite clear that this aspect of the law is also ignored.