Elisabeth von Gutmann was born on 6 January 1875 as the daughter of Wilhelm Wolf Isaak Gutmann and his second wife, Ida Wodianer. She had two full brothers and two half-brothers and a half-sister, from her father’s first marriage. Her father received a hereditary knighthood from Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria in 1878. Not much is known about Elisabeth’s early life and upbringing. She was raised in the Jewish faith but was baptised in the Catholic faith with the name Elisabeth Sarolta in January 1899.
Just a few days after the baptism, on 1 February 1899, Elisabeth married Baron Géza Erős of Bethlenfalva. She was widowed at the age of 31, and they had not had any children. During her time as a widow, she lived in Vienna. Under what circumstances she would meet her second husband, remains unclear. They probably met in 1914 when she learned about a relief fund for soldiers founded by her future husband – the future Franz I, Prince of Liechtenstein.
Franz was the younger brother of the reigning Johann II, Prince of Liechtenstein and he was against the match because of Elisabeth’s origins. Due to this, Franz and Elisabeth did not officially marry then but gave each other the promise of marriage – a so-called Notehe. They were finally free to marry when Franz’s brother died without leaving issue on 11 February 1929 and Franz succeeded him. They were married on 22 July 1929 in Lainz near Vienna and Elisabeth became the Princess consort of Liechtenstein. The Nazis immediately focussed their attentions on her due to her Jewish origins.
Elisabeth became the first Princess consort who regularly visited Liechtenstein. She and her husband visited schools and hospitals and supported charities in the principalities. They founded the “Franz and Elsa Foundation” with benefitted the youth of Liechtenstein. Elisabeth also enjoyed wearing the national costumes of Liechtenstein and was a great dog-lover. She was popular among the people of Liechtenstein and became a mother figure to them.
The annexation of Austria led to Franz making Prince Franz Joseph – his grandnephew and heir – the regent over the principality and Elisabeth and Franz moved to Prague. At that time, the Nazi movement was growing in Liechtenstein. Franz would die just three months later on 25 July 1938, and Elisabeth then moved to Switzerland where she lived by Lake Lucerne.
Elisabeth died in her home by Lake Lucerne on 28 September 1947 after a short illness. She was initially buried in Dux in Liechtenstein, but her remains were later moved to the Cathedral of Vaduz.1