Liechtenstein prince qualifies ‘Fourth Reich’ Germany remark

12th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

The prince ‘did not intend in any way to trivialize the terrible events of the Third Reich in his private and personal letter.’

Vaduz -- After prompting anger from Germany's Jewish community, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein withdrew remarks made earlier in which he had called Germany the "Fourth Reich" in line with the "Third Reich" Nazi era of the 1930s and 1940s.

The prince "did not intend in any way to trivialize the terrible events of the Third Reich in his private and personal letter" to the head of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the principality said in a press release.

Hans-Adam II ignited anger among Jewish representatives after writing in a letter revealed Thursday by the Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger that Liechtenstein already survived "three German Reichs," meaning three eras of attempted German domination in 200 years.

He hoped also to survive the "Fourth Reich" the prince written in reply to a request by museum director Werner Michael Blumenthal for a picture of Hans-Adam II’s for an exhibition.

On Thursday, the prince stepped back from his comments, saying that his remarks were not referring to today's Germany.

The planned exhibition is called Theft and Restitution and traces the paths of particular artifacts -- including paintings, libraries, china, silver works and photographs – that had once belonged to Jews but were appropriated by the Nazis.

Liechtenstein no longer intended to make its art available for German exhibitions, the prince wrote in his original reply to the museum.

Referring to Germany as the "Fourth Reich," he said his principality did not want to expose its masterpieces to what the prince termed the selective application of constitutional principles in Germany.

German-Liechtenstein relations over the previous 200 years has resembled a roller coaster ride, the prince had said.

Liechtenstein had still been at war with the "Second German Reich" (lasting from the 1871 founding of the German Empire under the reign of Wilhelm I to the collapse of the monarchy in 1918), as the latter perished before a peace agreement with the principality could be reached, Hans-Adam II's letter said.

"Thank God, the Nazi Third Reich had also been wiped out in time (before it had been able to act on its threats to annex Liechtenstein)," he wrote.

However, regarding its relations to Germany, the principality is still waiting for better times, the prince noted.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany reacted with bewilderment to the letter and was shocked especially at the prince's apparent comparison of today's Germany with the Nazi era.

"The Prince plays down the Nazi crimes by putting the Federal Republic in one line with the Third Reich," said Vice President Salomon Korn.

The Jewish museum also dismissed the prince's letter. "The comparison of today's Germany and the Third Reich is intolerable," said a museum spokeswoman.

The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented that Germany respected international rules of law "of course, also in relation to Liechtenstein."

Ties between Germany and Liechtenstein have been strained especially since German tax investigators probed the principality as a tax haven for Germans seeking to avoid tax payments at home.

The German tax authorities had filed numerous law suits after they received client data by a former employee of Liechtenstein's LGT bank which he had stolen in 2002.


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