Biography of Emperor Franz Joseph

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Kaiser Franz Joseph


The legacy of Kaiser Franz Joseph was that he was a humanitarian.  He allegedly loved people and viewed them as individuals with feelings, flaws, strengths and uniqueness.  He examined their flaws, that which was real and that which was attributed to the human being.  The one story which was repeated for years after his death was one that has not been forgotten:  He had the habit of visiting prisons and speaking to the men that were incarcerated  within.  One of the many times that he carried out his walk he found each prisoner would bow to him, kiss his ring, and declare his innocence.  There was, however, one man who turned away from Franz Joseph and stared at the wall, so that the Kaiser only saw the back of this person.  Franz asked this man about his life and invited him to face him and respond.  The good Kaiser requested that he answer and tell his story.  After much coaxing, the prisoner answered with three words:  “I am guilty.”   Franz Joseph was quick in his response, as he freed the speaker with the  following words:  “Get out, you are spoiling all of the innocent ones.” Thus, the honest man won his freedom.

 As Jews, we have been falsely accused of being guilty of crimes we did not commit.  Our accusers are the guilty ones.  They have projected their anger, their misdeeds, their crimes, and their hatreds unto the Jewish people.  Our brethren have been the scapegoats of every psychopath in  the world.  The Holocaust, the outcome, the slain six million innocent human beings including infants and children, and the leaders of the killing crew are the best example of this. At the helm, Hitler, Streicher, Mengele, and thousands of bloodthirsty Germans had no conscience when they annihilated, and enjoyed the destruction and violent experiments they forced upon their helpless  victims.

A brief history of the Kaiser reveals that he was born in the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, to an unambitious and retiring father.  The young Archduke “Franzl” was raised by his mother as a future Emperor, with emphasis on devotion, responsibility, and diligence. Franzl idolized his grandfather, der gute (the good) Kaiser Franz, who died when the boy was nearly five years old, as an ideal monarch. At age thirteen, young Franz started a career as a colonel in the Austrian army.  From that point onward his fashion was dictated by army style for the rest of his life. He normally wore the uniform of a military officer. Franz had three younger brothers and one sister (Maria Anna died at age four).

Following  the resignation of the Chancellor Prince Metternich during the Revolutions of 1848, the young Archduke would soon succeed his uncle on the throne. Franz was sent to the front in Italy.  He handled his first military experience calmly and with dignity.  Around the same time, the Imperial Family was fleeing revolutionary Vienna for the calmer setting of Innsbruck, in Tyrol.  Soon the Archduke was called back from Italy, joining the rest of his family at Innsbruck.  It was at Innsbruck at this time that Franz Joseph first met his cousin Elisabeth, then a girl of ten, who became his future bride.

Following victory over the Italians at Custoza in July of 1848, the court felt safe to return to  Vienna, and Franz Joseph traveled with them.  After a few months Vienna again appeared unsafe and in September the court left again, this time for Olmutz in Moravia. It was thought that a new ruler would not be bound by the oaths to respect constitutional government to which Ferdinand had been forced to agree, and that is was necessary to find a young, energetic emperor to replace the kindly, but mentally unfit emperor.

It was thus at Olmutz on December 2 that, by the abdication of his uncle Ferdinand and the renunciation of his father, the mild mannered Franz Karl, Franz Joseph succeeded as Emperor of Austria.

Franz Joseph died in Schönbrunn Palace on the evening of October twenty one, 1916, age eighty-six, during World War One.  His sixty-eight year reign is the third longest in the recorded history of Europe.


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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