Whatever happened to… The Archduke’s Children?

This week saw the 100 year anniversary of the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the assassination that sparked the First World War.

Killed alongside his wife, the global consequences of his death are well known. However, I was thinking recently – what happened to his children, orphaned after those events Sarajevo? Well, with a little bit of research I found out!

Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie Duchess of Hohenberg, had three children, Princess Sophie of Hohenberg, Maximilian, Duke of Hohenberg, and Prince Ernst of Hohenberg.

After their parents’ death, the children were taken in by the family friend Prince Jaroslav von Thun und Hohenstein. They lived first in Konopiště, a chateau near Prague in the Czech Republic. However, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the First World War, their inherited lands were confiscated, and the children moved to to Vienna and the Schloß Artstetten.

The children, whilst undoubtedly wealthy, went on to lead far more “normal” lives. Maximilian, for example, received a law degree from the University of Graz in 1926, and became a lawyer, managing the family properties.

Following the Anschluss with Germany in March 1938, both Maximilian and Ernst were departed by to Dachau concentration camp for speaking out against the union, and were supposedly employed in cleaning the latrines. Maximilian was released after six months but Ernst was transferred to other concentration camps and only released only in 1943.

Following this, the Reich authorities also expropriated the family’s properties in Austria in 1939 – but they were returned following the end of the war in 1945. By that point the family had moved to Artstetten Castle, where their parents were buried. When the Allies occupied Austria at the end of the war, Maximilian was elected mayor of Artsteten, and he served two five-year terms.

Ernst died in 1954, Maximilian in 1962. Sophie lived to be 89 years old, dying in October 1990, and outliving both of her younger siblings. All had children, and so this famous line continued, and still endures today despite the torrid age they lived through.



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6 responses to “Whatever happened to… The Archduke’s Children?

  1. william poteat

    sophie never lived she died and none of her kids were able to inherit the money from the archduke because sophie was not from royal blood

    • …kinda hard to die if you “never lived”, and Sophie’s lack of royal blood meant nothing since Franzs’ blood was as royal as you could get, and they tended to look more at the lineage of the father before the mothers’ when trying to determine who is next in the line of succession at that time.

      • Jan Baard

        All your arguments are invalid. The wedding between Franz Ferdinand and Sophie Chotek was a morganatic one because she wasn’t of any dynasty but rather of low nobility. Morganatic means she, as well as the children didn’t automatically get all the royal privileges or royal titles and no descendant of his would ascent the throne. This was the deal Franz Ferdinand had to make in order to be allowed to marry out of love. The first commentator william poteat was aware of this, you were not.

  2. I just visited Konopiště, Archduke Ferdinand’s castle in the Czech Republic and was wondering about what happened to the children. Thanks for answering that question! Anita

  3. Pingback: June 28th, 1914 – Assassination of Franz Ferdinand – Hannah's Blog

  4. Thank you for being willing/able to find this out. I’ve been curious about the kids a few times but was unable to find anything credible about what happened to them after their parents were murdered. Talk about hard luck for them! One day potential heir to the throne, next day orphaned, and then to cap it off with a trip to Dachau. With luck like that, I’d rather have none at all.

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