Franz Joseph II
Who was he: Franz Joseph II, Prince of Liechtenstein, reigned from July 25th of 1938 until his death on November 13th, 1989 in Grabs, Switzerland. His complete title was Furst von und zu Liechtenstein, Herzog von Troppau und Jagerndorf, Graf zu Rietberg.
Background: Franz Joseph II was born in Styria, Austria in 1906 on the 16th of August, the son of Prince Aloys of Liechtenstein and Archduchess Elisabeth of Austria. Since his cousin, who was to have succeeded Prince Aloys, was childless, Franz Joseph II was designated next in line to the throne.
Prince Franz Joseph II lived full-time in the principality. No other Prince had ever done this and the act of taking-up residency helped to gain him favor among the citizens. He was very popular due to his attitude of kindness. Franz Joseph II made it possible for women to vote in Liechtenstein for the first time, following a referendum in 1984 that was presented to men only. This act substantially increased his favorability. He was noted for raising Liechtenstein out of its agricultural heritage of poverty into a position of great wealth. During his reign, Liechtenstein became one of the richest countries in the world.
The principality is an extremely small country, 61.7 square miles to be exact, sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria. Despite its geographical location, Franz Joseph II was able to maintain the country's neutrality during World War II. Yet Liechtenstein was tied to the German effort through profiting from labor that was supplied out of the concentration camps. Prisoners were employed on the Liechtenstein estates in Austria. At the end of the War, Russian soldiers from the First Russian National Army were given asylum in Liechtenstein. These two acts were a direct betrayal of the country's vow of neutrality, facts only discovered in 2005, and Franz Joseph is now viewed as a profiteer of the Holocaust.
The Prince married on the 7th of March, 1943. There were five children born to Franz Joseph and his wife, Georgine, Countess of Wilczeck: Hans-Adam II, Prince Phillip Erasmus, Prince Nikolaus, Princess Nora and Prince Franz Joseph Wenzeslaus Georg Maria. The children represent Franz Joseph's line of successors.
Lichtenstein became a wealthy country under the 51-year rule of Franz Joseph II. The House of Liechtenstein has been one of the more powerful monarchs to date. Though the country is land-locked and sits squarely in the Swiss Alps, it has gained stature, power and economic prosperity. Its summers are hot and the winters are extremely cold, but the economy has been helped directly by the experience of four seasons, as the plateau regions within the mountains are able to have full growing seasons and produce products such as dairy, wheat, potatoes, barley, corn and livestock. Industrial growth has come from the production of electronics, pharmaceuticals, metal manufacturing and textiles.
The same year women in Lichtenstein were given the right to vote, 1984, was also the year that Franz Joseph gave up most of his powers to his son Hans-Adam. Franz Joseph II died on November 13, 1989, shortly after the death of his wife. He is buried in St. Florian Cathedral in Vaduz, Lichtenstein.