Hitler and the Hab­s­burgs: The Fuhrer’s Vendet­ta Against the Aus­tri­an Royals

January 1, 2013

A stun­ning work of nar­ra­tive his­to­ry reveal­ing how and why Adolf Hitler tar­get­ed the chil­dren of the assas­si­nat­ed Arch­duke Franz Fer­di­nand, mak­ing the Archduke’s sons the first two Aus­tri­ans deport­ed to the Dachau con­cen­tra­tion camp. Hitler’s obses­sion with the Hab­s­burg Impe­r­i­al fam­i­ly became the cat­a­lyst for his vendet­ta against a van­ished empire, a dead arch­duke, and his roy­al orphans. That hatred drove Hitler’s rise to pow­er and led direct­ly to the tragedy of the Sec­ond World War and the Holo­caust. Through a decade of research and inter­views with the descen­dants of the roy­al Hab­s­burgs schol­ar, James Lon­go explores the roots of Hitler’s deter­mi­na­tion to destroy the Archduke’s fam­i­ly and uncov­ers the family’s coura­geous fight against the Führer, specif­i­cal­ly the women, includ­ing the Archduke’s only daugh­ter Princess Sophie Hohen­berg. Their tenac­i­ty and courage in the face of betray­al and tor­ture sus­tained the fam­i­ly dur­ing the war and in the trau­mat­ic years that followed.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of James Longo

  1. Your book con­trasts Hitler’s neu­tral, even pos­i­tive rela­tion­ship with Jews in his ear­ly life, and his infa­mous anti­semitism in his pub­lic life. How do you explain this contradiction?

  2. In your book, Hitler and the Hab­s­burgs: The Fuhrer’s Vendet­ta Against the Aus­tri­an Roy­als, you high­light the role of women in fight­ing and defeat­ing Hitler and the Nazis. What role did women have in this sto­ry, and why did you think it was impor­tant to high­light them?

  3. What was the rela­tion­ship between the Aus­tri­an roy­als and Jews, and how did that rela­tion­ship fuel Hitler’s hatred for both?

  4. The New York Jour­nal of Books writes your book, illu­mi­nates the demons dri­ving Hitler from with­in” and cites the the par­al­lels between rise to pow­er of Adolf Hitler and that of Don­ald J. Trump.” Was that your intent in writ­ing this book? What are the sim­i­lar­i­ties and what are the dif­fer­ences between these two leaders?

  5. You lived with three Ger­man fam­i­lies in three dif­fer­ent parts of Ger­many when research­ing your book, what did that expe­ri­ence teach you about Ger­many, Hitler, and the rise of anti­semitism today?

  6. Hitler’s con­tempt for the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an Empire and the Unit­ed States is men­tioned through­out your book, what was that all about?

  7. The book has been called a cau­tion­ary tale for today, and a sur­vivors guide to trau­ma — what are the life lessons in this true sto­ry for readers?

  8. What sparked your inter­est in writ­ing about a long-dead Arch­duke, his roy­al orphans, and a van­ished empire?