I read Dr. Srdja Trifkovic’s highly coloured article on ChroniclesMagazine.org about the recently deceased Archduke Otto of Austria with a mixture of surprise and concern. Not a single one of his sources supported the entirely negative picture that he drew.
Let's see why.
“Habsburg was an enthusiastic supporter of the Jihadist side in the Bosnian civil war, visited Sarajevo repeatedly during that war, and had several meetings with Alija Izetbegovic.”
The “source”? Apparently it is this, on the Otto von Habsburg condolence website, which states:
Otto von Habsburg meets Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic in April 1997.
Eh? How does this “prove” that he was “an enthusiastic supporter of the Jihadist side”? It is ludicrous.
“No Orthodox Christians were invited” [to the funeral of Archduke Otto.]
Wrong! Not only were they invited, but they attended. I saw them myself.
Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan Staikos of Vienna himself was invited and, indeed, attended, and he was by no means the only Eastern Orthodox cleric to attend.
“At his funeral, on Habsburg’s specific instructions, the religious leader of Bosnia’s Muslims, reis-ul-ulema Mustafa effendi Ceric, joined Roman Catholic and Jewish clerics in prayer... It should be noted that in a 2005 interview Ceric called Britain one of the early ‘trophies’ of Islam in Europe.”
“Source”? It's a highly tendentious piece in Militant Islam Monitor. The Monitor begins by commenting “he sees the UK as one of the first ‘trophies’ in the islamisation of Europe” but, in fact—despite the quotation marks—Dr. Ceric never uses the word.
He is quoted in the Monitor thus:
This future Western Muslim identity will represent neither assimilation nor isolation, but co-operation.
He likens the process to that experienced by British Jews: at first outsiders, they later became part of the fabric of society but have defended their identity and world view. In turn, that world view influences decisions of the state and international relations.
Note that: co-operation; and that, moreover, like British Jews! No mention of any “trophy.”
Nothing, moreover, about Archduke Otto as a friend and supporter of terrorists.
“He [Habsburg] counts among his international activities participation in radical Islamic groups and events . . . ”
What is the source for this claim? Oops! The “page cannot be found" on the internet. Does it even exist?
“[He counts also] links with Muslim activists banned from the US for terrorist funding and phony Islamic ‘charities’ tainted by terrorist links.”
The “source”? Militant Islam Monitor again. But what does it say about Otto and banned Muslims?
Nothing. Err . . . at all. Yep. Nix. Not one little reference at all!
Hey, but what about his “links” with phony Islamic “charities tainted by terrorist links”?
Oops—sorry! Page not available on the net, again!
Well, well. How unfortunate . . .
“Habsburg was a strong supporter of Bill Clinton’s Kosovo war and repeatedly called for the bombing of Belgrade, starting in 1993, six years before it happened in March 1999.”
“Source”? None given! Yes, folks, none at all.
Well, what else is on the web?
First, there’s a claim by an article called “Yugoslavia and its Enemies: 1903-1998” citing a “Vatican/New World Order” conspiracy which it seems to claim exists. It appears on a site called Open Bible Ministries, a Northern Irish Protestant web site based in Belfast, which claims that:
It is the voice of Israel-Identity believers in Ulster. . . . It also seeks to declare the identity of the Celto-Anglo-Saxon peoples as the Israel of God.
In it, an article, cited also in The Trumpet [here and here], tells us “how Germany and the Vatican use the European Union and NATO to achieve their historical aims in Yugoslavia”
Got that folks? The Vatican has driven its tank divisions onto the Serbian lawns.
The same article also provides a purported timeline. Try this little gem on for size:
1933 The most Catholic of German governments takes power—Hitler, von Papen, Himmler, Goebbels, Goering.
Apparently those hundreds of years of the Catholic Holy Roman Empire were not really Catholic.
No—the real Catholic government was that of the Catholic-hating, National Socialist and racist fanatic, Adolf Hitler, whose hatred of Roman Catholicism is made abundantly clear throughout his book Mein Kampf and who presided over the murder of hundreds of thousands of Catholic bishops, priests and laymen.
Yep—a truly Catholic government, that one, folks!
Oh, and did I mention it? No evidence at all that Archduke Otto called for the bombing of Belgrade. Not a whit! Nix, again!
And yet Serb nationalists keep repeating this canard like a mantra, so that it has gone viral on dozens of Serb nationalist websites and chat rooms, without any authenticating reference whatever.
One site, The Institute for the Study of Globalisation and Covert Politics, repeats the claim in its bio of Archduke Otto but rather spoils its objectivity not only by failing to source the quote but by suggesting that Prince Hans-Adam of Liechtenstein, the Catholic ruling prince of that state, thinks all religions were invented by aliens. Yes, really!
And yet most sites simply quote this very article of Dr. Trifkovic’s as their source for the bombing claim.
The fact is: It’s all poppycock.
Like his father before him, the Blessed Emperor Charles, who forbade the bombing of civilian-inhabited cities in World War I, Archduke Otto was always implacably opposed to bombing civilians.
“His [Habsburg's] support of the KLA terrorists and of Kosovo’s independence was based on a mix of visceral Serbophobia and outright mendacity, earning him a badge of shame in the form of the morbid quasi-state’s ‘golden medal of freedom’.”
Any “source” for this outrageous slur? Here, apparently:
Pristin, 5 October 2006: The representative of the Austrian royal family, Otto von Habsburg, said today in Pristin that Austria will support the goal of the Kosovar people for an independent and integrated Kossovo in the European Union [BBC monitoring reports, reported on Access My Library]
In what way is this “support of KLA terrorists” or, indeed, any terrorism?
Search me—I am as mystified as you!
But what of his “visceral Serbophobia and “outright mendacity” (i.e.,“outright lies”)? The source is said to be from Die Konservative Informationsbasis in Internet with an article by Archduke Otto himself in German. But the article does no more than defend Kosovo’s independence.
Apparently this now amounts to “visceral Serbophobia” and “outright lies.”
Well, folks, it’s a point of view—just not a very rational one!
In the article, Archduke Otto recalls the history of the Kosovo region, half-autonomy under Tito, suppression under Milosevic, and the “worst” that one can find him saying is to compare Rugova to Ghandi and then this:
. . . the suppression [of the Kosovars] was accomplished in a uniquely brutal form, in particular by the Serbian volunteer corps of Arkan. The last remainders of autonomy were extinguished, and, which was still more important, a systematic Serbianisation developed.
[The German reads: “ . . . die Unterdrückung wurde in einer einmalig brutalen Form, insbesondere durch die serbischen Freischaren des Arkan, durchgeführt. Die letzten Reste der Autonomie wurden gestrichen, und was noch wichtiger war, es entstand eine systematische Serbisierungspolitik.”]
How is this “visceral Serbophobia”? How is it an “outright lie”?
Answers on a postcard, please!
As a matter of historical fact, I expect many Serbs would actually agree that it is true.
Moreover, Archduke Otto actually criticises Western leaders for their indecision and ends by saying what few would disagree with:
If one really wants to have peace, the only possibility is for democracy, both internationally and nationally. That means the right of self-determination of peoples. Without such being implemented, this area in Kosovo will not have peace and the region would remain a crisis centre in Europe.
[The German reads: “Will man wirklich Frieden haben, gibt es nur die Möglichkeit der Demokratie im internationalen wie im nationalen Leben. Das bedeutet das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker. Ohne dessen Verwirklichung wird es im Kosovo niemals Frieden geben und dieses Gebiet würde ein Krisenherd Europas bleiben.”]
Dr. Trifkovic’s accusation is simply ridiculous and unworthy of a serious scholar.
But worse is to come.
“He supported the destruction of the Njegos Chapel on Mt Lovcen in Montenegro and Montenegrins’ eventual conversion from Orthodoxy to some form of union with Rome. His attitude to Orthodoxy was in sharp contrast to his conciliatory benevolence to Islam.”
What on earth is this all about?
Well, Dr. T leaves us to guess, but a Montenegrin website, montenet.org, explains:
On April 27, 1970, Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Coast (Crnogorsko-primorski)—a branch of the Serbian Orthodox Church—filed a law-suit against the government of Montenegro and Cetinje municipality for their intention to build a mausoleum on Mount Lovcen. The Metropolitan alleged that the decision of Government of Montenegro and Cetinje municipality (1952) to move Njegos’ chapel on Mount Lovcen, and to build a mausoleum in its place, was unlawful and unconstitutional. The Metropolitan lost the case eventually, and the Njegos’ mausoleum was built by the renowned sculptor Ivan Mestrovic . . .
Petar II Petrovic-Njegoš (????? II ???????? ?????) was a Prince-Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Montenegro and famous as a great poet.
The chapel on Mt. Lovcen, at the summit of Jezerski vrh, was chosen by Njegoš himself as his last wish but the shrine was destroyed during the First World War when Austria defeated Montenegro, and its last defences, on Mt Lovcen, on 11 January 1916. [Njegoš's remains were then transferred to a chapel rebuilt by King Alexander in the 1920s at Cetinje Monastery.]
I have been able to find no evidence whatsoever of any kind that Archduke Otto “supported the destruction of the Njegos Chapel,” as Dr Trifkovic alleges.
This is perhaps not entirely surprising since, in January 1916, when Mt. Lovcen fell, Archduke Otto’s father was not yet emperor (he did not succeed until November 1916) and Archduke Otto was, himself, only three years old!
Apparently a three-year old boy is to be held responsible for supporting the destruction of the Njegos Chapel on Mt Lovcen!
This really is perfectly ridiculous.
OK, what next?
“On April 9, 2002, he [Archduke Otto] told the Christian Science Monitor (‘Europe, Prepare to Greet Islam’) that ‘all nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea—including those in North Africa and the Middle East—have a place in his broad vision for tomorrow’s Europe’. He had never made a similar declaration about any such place for Russia, let alone Serbia. His flawed concept has come to be known as Eurabia, and represents the greatest threat to Europe’s demographic, cultural and spiritual survival in the decades ahead.”
As I know from personal talks with him, Archduke Otto’s vision was to try to bring all the peoples of Europe into peaceful co-existence—including both Serbs and Muslims, if possible. But Dr. Trifkovic does not like this. He seeks, instead, to plunge headlong into the old disinformation game.
Let’s see how.
First, the Christian Science Monitor headline—“Europe, Prepare to Greet Islam”—is entirely its own. It is certainly not that of Archduke Otto.
Here is what the Monitor actually says:
For centuries, the ruling Habsburgs defended the Continent against the expansion of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Now Mr von Habsburg makes it clear that all nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including those in North Africa and the Middle East, have a place in his broad vision for tomorrow's Europe. Malta and Cyprus are already knocking at Brussels' doors.
Some may label von Habsburg as a nostalgic dreamer trying to resuscitate the spirit of the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg hereditary title. But those who understand the Mediterranean phenomenon know how closely linked are the populations of its coasts, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians.
The article nowhere quotes Archduke Otto as saying what Dr. Trifkovic attributes to him, nor defending “Eurabia,” still less any policy that could even remotely be said to be “the greatest threat to Europe’s demographic, cultural and spiritual survival in the decades ahead.” In fact, it does not quote him directly at all!
Dr. Trifkovic further tries to lampoon Archduke Otto for simply recognising what all Americans recognise, i.e., that ethnic Hispanics are increasing in numbers in the USA. Hispanics are, moreover, not usually Muslim; they tend to be Christian, if anything, which ought to assuage Dr. T, unless, of course, he is saying that only an increase in the Serb population of America would be desirable.
Dr. Trifkovic then goes on to state, immodestly and, in fact, wrongly, that his facts are “well-documented.”
They simply are not. They are exceedingly poorly marshalled and ill-documented.
He states that they are presented “without malice and without rancour.” I hope he means it, but it is very difficult to believe that when we see, in his later response to comments, the following sort of further caricature:
18 July 2011—Lest I forget, and should have mentioned in the article: in the summer of 2001 Otto von Habsburg signed an ‘international appeal’ on behalf of Chechen Jihadists and their leader Aslan Mashkadov—there’s hardly a nastier piece of work in the Muslim universe—which was initiated by a bunch of West European Russophobe far-leftists . . . Mashkadov was killed by the Russians in 2005, thank God. Otto von Habsburg is now keeping him company.
That last clear—and disgraceful—implication is that Mashkadov and Archduke Otto are both in a well-deserved Hell.
What Dr. Trifkovic does not tell us is that the “international appeal,” far from being in support of Jihadists, was a call for peace!
Moreover, it was also co-signed by heroes of Russia, that country dear to Serbia, like Yelena Bonner-Sakharov, widow of the Russian dissident, Andrei Sakharov, and Vladimir Bukovsky, another famous Russian dissident.
But there is more.
As was reported by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, Maskhadov offered his readiness for unconditional peace talks with Moscow several times in 2000 alone, and continuing in the following years, but his appeals were always ignored by the Russian side.
Mashkadov sought to negotiate by appealing to the CSCE, the UN and the West. He also sought to contain the Chechen war-lords, the Wahabists and other extremists in the war.
One cannot help wondering if Dr. Trifkovic objects to him chiefly because he would not lie down and be destroyed by the Russians—the Russian nation whose destiny he sees as so intimately intertwined with that of Serbia.
But worse still was the piece of hate-filled vitriol that followed. This was a real peach:
18 July 2011—His [Archduke Otto’s] was the bigoted, schwarzgelb pseudo-Christianity that cost real Europe dearly in 1914. Like a Spanish Bourbon that he wasn’t, he had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. No wonder he was such an Euro-integrationist as well as an Eurabian dhimmi to boot—the two go well together.
How’s that? What can he be speaking of? Why Roman Catholicism, of course, and in that thoroughly prejudicial, anti-Catholic way that has, for so many centuries, led to so much hatred and bloodshed in so many countries of Europe.
This is unworthy of any Christian—Catholic, Orthodox or, for that matter, Protestant.
Let us not forget how the war in 1914 really started, shall we?
Serb nationalist terrorists assassinated the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, the heir to the imperial throne, and did so in cold blood for the sake of the same spurious ultra-nationalism that has led, time and again, directly to bloody war in Europe.
Dr. Trifkovic—sadly—descends into yet further unworthy abuse, piling error upon error:
20 July 2011— . . . far from being ‘hostile’ the implied criticism has been entirely empirical. The facts of Otto’s folly, on Izetbegovic, Ceric, Kosova, Spanish-speaking American states, etc, speak for themselves. Far from not being pro-Serb or pro-Orthodox, which is unobjectionable, he was murderously anti-Serb and viscerally anti-Orthodox, which is evil. His vision of a united Europe was not ‘naive’ but Illuminated to the 32nd degree. His pandering to Euro-Islam was unforgivable. A bad man.
The spurious “facts” do not speak for themselves, at all. Indeed, these “facts” are no such thing. They are simply wrong—as we have seen.
The criticism has been neither “empirical” nor “implied.” The criticism is either wholly false or gross exaggeration and made more positively wrong still by ignorant and inexcusable false accusations like “murderous,” “illuminated to the 32nd degree” (implying that Archduke Otto was a high-ranking Freemason, in flat defiance of his own Church’s law), and other manifest falsehoods.
Dr. Trifkovic does neither himself nor his cause any good by this sort of false and scandalous, defamatory muck-raking. Indeed, he damages his own cause and that of his own country and people by such gross exaggeration and misleading misrepresentation. Worse—he does the very thing that he expends so much time in protesting that others do to him and his fellow Serbs.
Using these same tactics would have been far easier against Dr. Trifkovic than against Archduke Otto. Dr. Trifkovic has been an ally and defender of numerous Serb leaders, some of whom, like Biljana Plavsic and Milomir Stakic, have since been convicted of war crimes at the Hague tribunal, and for these and other reasons Dr. Trifkovic was refused entry into Canada in February 2011.
Guilty by association?
It therefore behoves someone in his position to take care that he does not misrepresent others, especially someone as pre-eminent as Archduke Otto.
Nationhood, love of country and patriotism are important but they are not so important that they take precedence over justice, peace, and mercy—or, indeed, truth.
I count myself among those who are disturbed at the way in which the West conducted the wars in the Balkans and am concerned that accusations of huge massacres said to have been carried out by Serbian forces are now beginning to appear exaggerated, as the evidence comes out in the war crimes trials and elsewhere.
I, too, insist that Serbs receive justice and fair play, as much as any other people.
That honourable goal, however, is not going to be served by dishing up half-baked exaggerations, misrepresentations, and inaccurate misreporting.
Indeed, stooping to such methods may even damage the Serb cause since the enemies of Serbia will simply use it against them.
I therefore urge Dr. Trifkovic to take especial care to maintain a right and proper academic balance and objectivity.