The neo-Gothic object stands in the large English park near the banks of Svět pond. (ČTK)The neo-Gothic object stands in the large English park near the banks of Svět pond. (ČTK)

The Constitutional Court ruled in favour if Alžběta Pezold, the heir of the Hluboká line of the Schwarzenberg family, who filed a complaint against the violation of her private and family rights. The state now has to return to her the confiscated family tomb.

The Constitutional Court overturned the ruling of a district court, a regional court and the Supreme Court, saying the lower courts’ rulings denied the basic rights to private and family life.

The court said the tomb is a memorial site, which is protected by law as the right to family life. But it is not clear whether the neighbouring park can also be considered a memorial place.

The District Court in Jindřichův Hradec will again have to rule whether the tomb is part of the Schwarzenberg heritage. Only then a regular inheritance proceedings can start with a goal to determine which of Adolf Schwarzenberg’s heirs has ownership rights to the tomb.

Tomb not profitable

The neo-gothic building with a chapel in Domanín near Třeboň is part of the large property of the Hluboká branch of the Schwarzenbergs that was confiscated based on a decree signed by President Edvard Beneš in 1947, which became known as the Lex Schwarzenberg.

The property was not confiscated for collaboration reasons, but because the lawmakers considered it too big to fit the newly established social and economic structure of Czechoslovakia.

Pezold believes the state has absolutely no right to claim the tomb because it is private property, which the law does not apply to.

The Constitutional Court confirmed that. “This law should not have been applied in the tomb case. It has been proved that the purpose of the law was to expropriate family assets and not to take their personal belongings,” judge Eliška Wagnerová said.

Besides claiming the family tomb back, the step-sister of Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg also demanded that the Lex Schwarzenberg act be abolished and declared unlawful. But the court rejected the proposal.

The attorney of the Pezold family, Jan Dáňa, said he was going to claim the remaining property and again contest the legitimacy of the Lex Schwarzenberg act.

“It is the first victory on the long jurney we must still face; it is the first step towards recovering the Schwarzenbergs’ family property,” Dáňa said. Further complaints, involving some of the inventory from the confiscated chateaus, can therefore be expected.

Preservationists: She is evading law

Preservationists and the Regional Court in České Budějovice are convinced the heir files complaints to evade the still valid acts. The National Heritage Institute even challenged assumptions of the tomb being exclusively family property.

“The matter involves two buildings and 16 plots of land, which makes it disputable whether it is personal property. The object is not a single-use funeral construction. It is a sacred building with all church or chapel parts preserved,” said preservationists.

They say only the underground crypt can be recognised as a place of memory.

The court did not identify with the opinion, however. “The verifying process unveiled that the reason to build the tomb was a lack of funeral sites. Therefore the argument that says the construction is a sacred building and not a funeral building can hardly be accepted,” Wagnerová said.

Pezold has filed many restitution claims to regain all the property once owned by the Schwarzenberg-Hluboká line, including a number of historical landmarks, such as Hluboká nad Vltavou and Český Krumlov.

Up until now all of the claims were rejected. The latest ruling is therefore breaking. The current value of the Hluboká family branch is estimated at dozens of billions of crowns.

Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.