Elisabeth Schwarzenberg was born on 1 October 1947 in Vienna as the only daughter of Heinrich Schwarzenberg, and his wife Eleonore Schwarzenberg, nee Stolberg-Stolberg. Since 1945 her father was groundlessly barred from returning to Czechoslovakia, and so Elisabeth grew up with her parents in Gusterheim near Pöls in Styria, where she attended the local elementary school. Later, she moved with her parents to the Schwarzenberg Palais in Vienna so that she could attend the grammar school.
In Vienna, Elisabeth lived not only with her parents, but also with her aunt, Eleonore Schwarzenberg and her uncle, Joseph Schwarzenberg, the last head of the family.
Elisabeth’s father Heinrich died in 1965, the same year she completed grammar school and began studying art history and archaeology at the university in Freiburg im Breisgau. Elisabeth later continued her studies in Bonn and in Munich.
On 31 May 1970, Elisabeth married Rüdiger von Pezold in Gusterheim. The couple then moved to Munich, where he worked as an attorney. In 1971 their daughter Anna was born, followed over the next twelve years by one more daughter, Juliane, and five sons – Heinrich, Georg Philipp, Felix, Johann and Adam.
After Anna’s birh the family returned to Gusterheim. The Pezolds restructured their farm and forestry activities with an emphasis on natural forestry. Over the years, Elisabeth reforested 500 hectares of primarily high-mountain land in order to protect the landscape from avalanches.
An important chapter in Elisabeth’s life began in 1988, when she and her husband acquired Forrester Estate in Zimbabwe. On their African farm, the couple also expanded medical care and provided education for the local inhabitants.
In 1998, the couple handed over the management of their African holdings to their then 26-year-old son Heinrich, in order to transfer responsibility for managing their expansive agricultural and forestry holdings. As a result, the couple gained more time for the exceptionally complex and time-demanding work associated with the unexpected duty to push for the rehabilitation of Dr Adolph Schwarzenberg and the restitution of his property confiscated in Czechoslovakia. After her adoptive brother Karel Schwarzenberg had failed to comply with his promise to meet his obligations contained in the will of her father regarding the restitution of this property, Elisabeth has become the only person engaged in the restitution process. The restitution concerns her grandfather Adolph Schwarzenberg’s property confiscated by the Gestapo in 1940 and since 1945 held by the Czechoslovak, and later the Czech state, in violation of the law and the constitution. In order to properly devote herself to the issue, Elisabeth acquired Czech citizenship.
In December 1994, Elisabeth’s mother Eleonore Schwarzenberg passed away in Gusterheim.
In 2003, Elisabeth acquired a house in Prague’s Smichov district, which she renovated with the help of her son Georg Philipp. Since then, she has also lived there with her husband. Currently, her son Adam is living in Prague and working there in the real estate sector.
Following years of court hearings, in 2007 the High Court in Vienna ruled that Karel Schwarzenberg forfeited his inheritance from Heinrich Schwarzenberg in favour of Heinrich’s daughter Elisabeth if he failed culpably to fulfil the duty assigned to him by the will of his adoptive father Heinrich Schwarzenberg to actively work towards the return of the confiscated Czech property of Adolph Schwarzenberg. The Austrian High Court’s ruling returned the case to the court of first instance for, among other things, clarification of this issue.
In 2009, Elisabeth von Pezold was able to celebrate another legal victory when the Czech Constitutional Court warranted that the family’s tomb in Domanin near Trebon and other property that had not been confiscated had to be returned.
In 2010 Elisabeth Pezold handed her Austrian property to her son Heinrich.
Elisabeth is the proud grandmother of ten grandchildren.