The story behind this Liechtenstein postal stationery, written on 7.9.1929, is one that extends to the present day. But first to the philatelic features of this card. It is a postal stationery with the imprinted stamp motif Vaduz Castle in the value of 25 Rp. This postal stationery appeared in February 1921 and was valid until 31.12.1935. In 1924, postal stationery like the one shown here appeared with a 20 Rp overprint. Their validity was from 15.5.1924 to 31.12.1935. While the first postal stationery described appeared in a small edition of 5800 pieces, the one shown here was somewhat more common with an edition of 14080 pieces. The postal stationery was postage paid and was sent by the Princely Liechtenstein Forestry Administration in Vaduz to its “branch” in Lundenburg in the then Czechoslovak Republic, with the urgent request to “finally” send the requested documents. The postmark is a bridge postmark – Swiss-type with hour number, two stars, large postal district number IX, Liechtenstein in brackets at the bottom, used from 1.9.192831 to 31.12.1959.
But what does this card have to do with today? I noticed it because I read in February this year that the Principality of Liechtenstein claims back its lands and castles, which it had to cede to the Czechs after World War II, in a lawsuit in Lundenburg (today Breclav). Around Lundenburg in South Moravia, there is a cultural landscape belonging to the World Cultural Heritage with two world-famous castles: Lednice (Eisgrub) and Valtice (Feldsberg). This cultural landscape is over large parts congruent with the three dominions of Feldsberg, Eisgrub and Lundenburg, all three of which belonged to the House of Liechtenstein for many centuries. But why do they no longer belong to Liechtenstein? In Europe it is obvious to connect this with the two world wars.
After the end of the Habsburg monarchy, the newly founded Czechoslovak state in 1918 carried out a land reform. The conditions under which the land reform was to be carried out on the Liechtenstein lands were not agreed upon until 1930. 57% – mainly farm land – was to go to Czechoslovakia in return for appropriate financial compensation, but this was not paid until 1939. Thus, until the end of the Second World War, the princely family administered about 69,000 hectares of mainly forest land in South Moravia.
On the basis of the Benes Decrees (stamp at bottom left), the Czechoslovak authorities decided in June 1945 to include Liechtenstein property on the territory of Czechoslovakia in the wave of confiscations associated with the expulsion of the Germans. This was legitimized by the assertion that Prince Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein (stamp at bottom right) had declared his German nationality in a 1930 census, which he vehemently denied. Even the objection that the Prince was the head of a neutral and sovereign state during the Second World War could not dissuade the Czechoslovak authorities from their request. Thus began the long road through the courts.
After several dismissals by courts, the Liechtenstein government filed a state complaint against the Czech Republic with the European Court of Human Rights in August 2020. With the state complaint, Liechtenstein did not want to question the Benes Decrees of 1945, but their misapplication to Liechtenstein nationals. The government cannot accept that the Czech authorities and courts systematically continue to classify Liechtenstein citizens as Germans contrary to clear facts because of possible precedent effects, Liechtenstein Foreign Minister Eggenberger explained the complaint to the media. A judgment in the matter has not yet been handed out. But just in February 2022 again another lawsuit was negotiated in front of a Czech court in Breclav. Again, the claim of the Principality of Liechtenstein for restitution was rejected – an appeal is possible. I am curious how this story will continue……