The Archduke, Crown Prince, and eldest son of the last Holy Roman Emperor, passed away on Monday at the age of 98. Both the Commies and Nazis hated him, and the latter sentenced Otto to death after he opposed the Anschluss in 1938. In later years he became a leading advocate for a European federation, and advocated for such in a 1962 NR cover story on Charles de Gaulle.
Early in September Germany received the head of the French State. Literally hundreds of thousands of young men and women thronged the streets to acclaim the man who for them was France. It was a deep and spontaneous enthusiasm such as is rarely seen.
The older among us could not avoid looking back over the road we have traveled. We had known the Rhine as a chasm separating two deadly enemies. We had seen German troops crushing France, and then the vengeance of the victors. And now we were seeing this hostility disappear in the resurgence of the Empire of Charlemagne, the Europe of former times, through the union after a thousand years of the Frankish nation—of the Eastern and Western Franks. In the streets of Munich and Stuttgart, on the wharves of Hamburg, Europe has suddenly become alive. On the French side, this great task of reconciliation could be done only by the man who had led France out of the humiliation and defeat of 1940.
The Europe now rising is not neutralist. During their reciprocal visits, both Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer reached an accord in their joint presence at religious services in historical national shrines. This Europe they are building is immune to Communism because it is Western and Christian.
It hasn’t exactly worked out that way. Alas, RIP.
The one and only.