Angering the German Jewish community, Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein attacked Germany in a letter revealed Thursday, calling it a ‘Fourth Reich’ that succeeded the ‘Third Reich’ Nazi regime of the 1930s and 40s.
Liechtenstein already survived ‘three German Reiche’ – meaning three eras of attempted German domination – over the last 200 years, Hans-Adam II wrote in a letter to the Berlin Jewish Museum, that was quoted by the Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger Thursday.
He hoped also to survive the ‘Fourth Reich’, the prince continued.
The letter was written in reply to a request by Werner Michael Blumenthal, director of the Jewish Museum, which had asked Hans- Adam II. to borrow one of his pictures for an exhibition.
The planned exhibition is called ‘Theft and Restitution’ and traces the paths of particular artifacts – including paintings, libraries, china, silver works and photographs – of which Jewish owners were disappropriated during the Nazi regime.
Liechtenstein no longer intended to make its art available for German exhibitions, the prince wrote in reply.
Referring to Germany as the ‘Fourth Reich’, he said his principality did not want to expose its masterpieces to what the prince termed the selective application of constitutional principles in Germany.
German-Liechtenstein relations over the previous 200 years had resembled a roller coaster ride, the prince said.
Liechtenstein had still been at war with the ‘Second German Reich’ (lasting from the 1871 founding of the German Empire under the reign of Wilhelm I to the collapse of the monarchy in 1918), as the latter perished before a peace agreement with the principality could be reached, Hans-Adam II’s letter said.
The prince continued, Thank God, the Nazi Third Reich had also been wiped out in time before it had been able to act on its threats to annex Liechtenstein.
However, regarding its relations to Germany, the principality was still waiting for better times, wrote Hans-Adam II.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany reacted with bewilderment to the letter and was shocked especially at the prince apparent comparison of today’s Germany with the Nazi era.
‘The Prince plays down the Nazi crimes by putting the Federal Republic in one line with the Third Reich,’ said vice president Salomon Korn.
The Jewish museum also dismissed the prince’s letter. ‘The comparison of today’s Germany and the Third Reich is unbearable’, said a museum spokeswoman.
The German ministry of foreign affairs commented that Germany respected international rules of law, ‘of course also in relation to Liechtenstein.’
Ties between Germany and Liechtenstein have been strained especially since German tax investigators probed the principality as a tax haven for Germans seeking to avoid tax at home.
The German tax authorities had filed numerous law suits after they received client data by a former employee of Liechtenstein’s LGT bank which he had stolen in 2002.
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