Sophie of Hohenberg – The insanity of life (Part three)

sophie hohenberg
(public domain)

Read part two here.

Sophie’s husband had survived the war, but they had no news of their eldest son Erwein. They did learn that Sophie’s brothers Max and Ernst and their families had survived and hoped for one more miracle to add to that. Sophie and her family were now seen as collaborators, and everything they owned was taken from them. For Sophie, it was the second time she had lost everything. They were taken to a detention camp in Karlovy Vary. The Austrian consul later arranged for them to be released into the custody of her brother Max at Artstetten, which was under Russian occupation. Max had become the mayor of the village of Artstetten. Sophie tried to use the Russians to find out more about Erwein but to no avail. Ernst sued to have lands taken from him by the Nazis returned to them, and when he won, one-third was transferred to Sophie. Sophie, her husband and their two remaining children, moved to a small cottage near Eisenerz, not far from where Ernst and his family lived.

In 1949, Sophie was finally informed of her eldest son’s fate. He had died as a prisoner of war in a Ukrainian prison camp on 11 September 1949. A year later, she received a visit from a fellow prisoner of his who told her that Erwein had never lost his faith, not even in his dying hours. He had prayed on his rosary until his death. This was a comfort to Sophie, knowing that her son had not been alone when he died. However, she would never be able to bury either Erwein or Franz. On 18 August 1953, her only daughter Sophie married Baron Ernst von Gudenus. In March 1954, her brother Ernst died after suffering a massive heart attack. He was brought to Artstetten to be buried near their parents. Three months later, Sophie became a grandmother for the first time with the birth of Baroness Sophie von Gudenus.

On 8 January 1962, Max too suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. Sophie was now the last remaining sibling. Sophie did not return to Czechoslavakia until 1981. Her surviving son Alois – who had married Countess Theresia von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg in 1962 – and his family accompanied her. Their former country estates were in ruins. She took them to Konopiště – buying her own entrance tickets – to show them the home where she had been born. Sophie had been widowed in 1973 and had moved to Salzburg to be near her family.

On 27 October 1990, Sophie died in her sleep at the age of 89. She and her husband were buried together in the family crypt of her son-in-law in Thannhauser. Her grandson said of her, “My grandmother’s generation had so many losses, so many tragedies, yet they found beauty and laughter and goodness in life, even at the end of her life. She saw nearly everything swept away, but never gave up. I think that generation was sustained by faith and loyalty, a sense of humour, and a deep commitment to family. These were things she inherited from her parents that provided her with the resilience to survive. But her faith, her religion remained the single most important thing in her life. She never doubted that one day she would be reunited with all those she loved. Her ability to withstand the insanity of life and still be standing was a miracle rooted in that faith and family.”1


  1. Hitler and the Habsburgs by James Longo p.233

About Moniek Bloks 2743 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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