“Karel Schwarzenberg died… It was clear to me that it was coming, but it’s still a blow. He was one of the most important and kindest people in my life. May he rest in peace, the Czech Republic should be forever grateful to him for everything he selflessly did for it,” said TOP 09 co-founder and ex-minister of finance Kalousek.
Schwarzenberg was airlifted to the Vienna hospital a few days ago. “Ask the doctors why they brought me here. I do not know it. I don’t think there are more specialists here than in the Czech Republic. I estimate that it will be roughly the same, but here I will be able to see my children and grandchildren,” Schwarzenberg, who spent a large part of his life in Vienna and had that part of his family, told the Expres server.
Departure in the family circle
The Echo24 server, citing a source from Schwarzenberg’s family, wrote that the politician had been in critical condition and in artificial sleep for the past two days. “He passed away surrounded by family,” the website also said.
He struggled with health problems, which according to Schwarzenberg included problems with the heart and kidneys, for a long time, he was repeatedly hospitalized because of them, and this year they deprived him of the opportunity to personally receive the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czech state honor, on October 28.
Statesman and visionary
“I respected Karel Schwarzenberg as my opponent in the presidential election, I enjoyed debating with him even after we both became pensioners in wheelchairs,” former president Miloš Zeman wrote on Facebook today. Prime Minister Petr Fiala stated that it was an honor to sit with Schwarzenberg in the government. “He was an important figure in Czech exile and Czech politics in recent decades,” he wrote on the X network.
“For Schwarzenberg, service to our country was not only a continuation of the family, but a completely natural mission. It was an honor to know him personally,” said President Petr Pavel. According to Senate President Miloš Vystrčilo, Schwarzenberg’s name opens doors for the Czech Republic. “”Sometimes it seemed that Karel Schwarzenberg was not listening during the meeting, as if we were dozing off. Then he suddenly spoke and it was clear that he was attentively perceiving everything around him the whole time,” Vystrčil wrote.
Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová wrote that a rare person, a democrat and a fighter for freedom, has left forever.
“For me, he has always been a symbol of the return of freedom, democracy and other traditional European values to our country,” wrote Jiří Pospíšil, the chairman of TOP 09 in Prague. The chairman of the Pirates, Ivan Bartoš, said that “his contribution to democracy and public service was significant.” MP and former chairman of STAN Petr Gazdík described Schwarzenberg as “one of the greatest statesmen and visionaries.” Other politicians also share their memories.
“I am extremely sorry that he has left us. However, he left us a legacy that is immortal and we must carry it. I will always be grateful that he influenced my life in such a fundamental way,” commented the speaker of the House of Representatives, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, who yesterday defended her position as the president of TOP 09, on Schwarzenberg’s departure.
Schwarzenberg came from the Eagle branch of the noble Schwarzenberg family, he studied law in Vienna and Graz and forestry in Munich, he did not finish his studies. He lived abroad until 1989, after the November Revolution he became chancellor of President Václav Havel.
Between 2007 and 2009 and again between 2010 and 2013, he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in 2013 he advanced to the second round in the first direct presidential election, in which he lost to Miloš Zeman. Between 2004 and 2010, Schwarzenberg was a senator and, after 2010, also a deputy. In the elections to the House of Representatives in 2017, as a 79-year-old, he became the oldest elected member of parliament in Czech history.
TOP 09 was founded by Schwarzenberg together with Kalousko in June 2009, in the autumn of the same year he was elected its chairman, a position he held until 2015.
“All property is vested”
Karel Schwarzenberg was not only a well-known politician, but also, until recently, the administrator of a large family estate. “I was raised that all possessions are entrusted, not mine. He was put in my care to take care of him and pass him on,” he said in one of the interviews. He attracted attention with his classy demeanor, his pipe, the occasional doze while speaking, and sometimes even his provocative directness and vernacular. He often called himself a forester and an innkeeper.
Before 1918, the Schwarzenbergs were among the richest in Europe. In addition to 200,000 hectares of land, the family also owned more than a dozen castles in Austria, Bohemia and Germany. In 1941, the property was expropriated by the Nazis, but it was returned to Austria and Germany after World War II. In the Czech Republic, the property was seized by the communists and partially returned to the Schwarzenbergs only after 1990.
The property of the Orlic branch, including the castles of Orlík, Čimelice, Zvíkov, Sedlec near Kutná Hora and more than 11,000 hectares of land, was returned to the Schwarzenbergs in restitution. In Austria, Schwarzenberg’s property includes, for example, a palace in Vienna, Murau Castle and forest plants. In the Czech Republic, Karel Schwarzenberg participated, among other things, in the privatization of Karlovarská Becherovka and sat on the supervisory board of Patria Finance. Until June 2007, he was the majority owner of the company that published the news weekly Respekt. In 1997, he bought the Dřevíč castle near Beroun, which became his permanent residence.