The Liechtensteins are suing the Czech Republic for seized property in Bohemia and Moravia, which were confiscated from them after the Second World War on the basis of the Beneš decrees. The richest noble family in Europe previously owned extensive fields, forests, but also estates, castles and a castle near Olomouc. Even today, the value of the property is enormous, but at the same time very difficult to quantify.
The issue of the nationalization of Liechtenstein property is reopened after the Foundation of the Prince of Liechtenstein came at the end of October with an offer for an out-of-court settlement of a protracted property dispute involving billions of dollars worth of property in the Czech Republic. They used to belong not only directly to members of the noble family, but also to other citizens of the Principality of Liechtenstein – one of the smallest, but at the same time, the richest states in Europe.
Liechtenstein has so far lost all legal disputes with the Czech Republic. They did not succeed this year even at the Constitutional Court, which in May rejected their complaint in a dispute over real estate in the Kolín region. The October court for property in the Břeclav region, in which they sought, among other things, the return of two state-owned castles in Lednice and Valtice also ended in failure for them.
Both of these castles were among the most important Liechtenstein residences in Moravia. But their domain was not limited to South Moravia. It included Břeclav, Bučovice, Krnov, Šternberk Castle near Olomouc, Moravská Třebová Zábřeh, Plumlov, Lanškroun or the castle and farm in Velké Losiny in Šumpersk. In Bohemia, it was, for example, Kostelec nad Černými lesy, Uhříněves, Koloděje, Roztoky or Rataj. The list of confiscated property can be seen, for example, from the publication Czech-Lichtenstein relations in history and in the present (Petr Geiger et al., 2014).
The Lichtensteins belonged to the richest families in the Czech lands and, in addition to chateaux and castles, they also owned countless hectares of fields and forests and shares in companies. The value of the property that was confiscated after 1945 is enormous, but at the same time unclear and very difficult to estimate. According to experts, it also changes over time, which is why it is important on which date it would be calculated.
Although the Liechtensteins have lost all previous court cases, the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where the Liechtensteins filed a lawsuit, is currently pending. “Liechtenstein as a state has filed an interstate complaint against the Czech Republic at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to protect the rights of more than 37 citizens of neutral Liechtenstein who have become victims of the abuse of the Beneš decrees and are now denied some basic rights in the Czech Republic. One of these 37 entities, the most important, is the Foundation of the Prince of Liechtenstein,” Michal Růžička, spokesman for the Foundation of the Prince of Liechtenstein in the Czech Republic, told Echo24. In addition to the return of assets, they also demand compensation, which, according to Růžička, the auditors calculated at 35 billion crowns.