Tomáš Czernin

* 1962

  • “The restitution itself was quite suspenseful because when the laws on restitution were issued, it said that property confiscated after February 1948 would be returned; at that moment, me and dad thought that nothing would happen because grandfather´s property was confiscated already by the Germans. However, dad went to see the land registry and it turned out that it was written everywhere that by a court decision of 1947, 'the market contract between the forced administrator and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia is declared null and void', and it turned out that Rudolf Czernin, my grandfather was still the owner. So the tables have turned. Because grandfather was not officially expropriated by the communists. The last entry said that he was the owner. Because he did not have the actual property nobody cared to actually expropriate it from him. So in all those calls for the return of property my dad wrote in the 'method of transfer to the state' box 'in the possession of the state without legal reason'. Actually, my grandfather was the formal owner the whole time.”

  • “Only after it, I think that it was the same year when grandpa died, in 1984, I spent a week in Styria with Karel Schwarzenberg. I told him that I would stay here [in Austria] one day. And he almost scolded me. He said: 'What would you do here? We all are unhappy that we can´t be at home and we believe that we will come back one day. Your parents have decided that you will live there [in Czechoslovakia], so simply believe that the situation will change one day. You will be ahead of all of us who will return. Because we will have to get used to it again.' Something actually changed in my head. I suddenly realized that my granddad kept losing something his whole life. He was born in 1904, during the time of the Kaiser. And then the 20th century was terribly tragic. As a young man, grandfather experienced the land reform which really affected great-grandfather. He (great-grandfather) died when he was only sixty and grandfather had to take over the so-called large farm when he was quite young, he was twenty-six years old. At that time, the events of 1938 and the Munich crisis occurred. Grandfather was a member of the delegation of old Czech houses to president Beneš where they demonstrated for the preservation of the territorial integrity of the Czech Crown lands and against the secession of the Sudetenland. Then in spring 1939 they came to see president Hácha to express their sense of belonging to the Czech nation. Of course, participants of these declarations made it to the Gestapo blacklist. Grandfather was then imprisoned for listening to foreign radio, Radio London. He did not get the property back after the war. Then the communist putsch took place and then grandfather stayed in Austria in 1964. He lost the property and the homeland. He lived without money in Austria, he lived out of his relative´s support. He then gradually lost his health and suffered because of the separated family, because we stayed in Czechoslovakia. His life was sad. I realized it and took it into my head that I wanted to experience the contrary. I believed that we would return to Dymokury one day. When I was studying and someone asked me where I were from, I used to say that I was studying in Prague, living in Krušné hory but belonging to Dymokury. Although we had nothing there but graves. When the year 1989 and restitution took place I felt great satisfaction. All my dreams came true. I could return here and continue something that my grandfather had to abandon.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 19.03.2021

    duration: 01:21:18
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I have an obligation to the generations before me and those that will follow me

Tomáš Czernin during the recording
Tomáš Czernin during the recording
photo: Post Bellum recording

Tomáš Zachariáš Josef Maria Děpolt Rudolf Kazimír Hostislav Czernin, a member of the Vinoř branch of the Czernin family was born on 4 March 1962 in Pilsen. His father Theobald Czernin and his mother Polyxena, née Lobkowicz lived quiet lives during communism, his father worked as a lorry driver and later as an ambulance driver, his mother worked as a nurse even though she spent the majority of time taking care of their five children. They lived a quiet life in the borderlands, first in a housing estate in Chodov near Karlovy Vary and later in a house in Rudná near Nejdek. Tomáš with his parents experienced a months-long emigration in Austria and Switzerland after the Invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968, however they returned to Czechoslovakia in spring 1969. Tomáš Czernin studied at the Secondary School of Civil Engineering in Karlovy Vary and at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of Czech Technical University. He considered emigration when he was young, however he abandoned his plans to emigrate and decided to stay in Czechoslovakia to follow in his ancestor´s footsteps. He got married to an Austrian Ursula Piringer in 1990. He and his father managed the restitution of the Czernin family property at the beginning of the 1990s and he started to reconstruct the family mansion at Dymokury Castle. In 1998 he was elected a local authority member for the village of Dymokury and he participated in local political life. He joined the TOP 09 party in 2009. He ran for the Senate on behalf of the TOP 09 party in 2010. His second candidacy for the Senate in 2016 was successful. He became the first Vice Chair of TOP 09 in November 2017 and a year later he assumed the position of chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Compatriots Living Abroad. He unsuccessfully ran for the post of TOP 09 chairman in 2019.