How did Brussels come to Belgium?

Historical overview

Below is a brief history of the Austrian embassy from the establishment of the Kingdom of Belgium in 1833:

"VIENNA - BRUSSELS: Diplomatic Notes"by Rudolf AGSTNER

About 200 years ago Austria lost the former Habsburg Netherlands to revolutionary France in the Peace of Campo Formio on October 17, 1797 - in exchange for Veneto. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the territories were united with the Netherlands to form the "Kingdom of the Netherlands". In 1830 there was the revolution in Brussels, elections for a Belgian constituent assembly and the separation from the Netherlands. Austria's State Chancellor Metternich took no pleasure in the revolutionary new state. Emperor Franz I only ratified the London treaty of the five powers with Belgium of November 15, 1831 on the independence of the new state, signed by his envoy in The Hague, Baron von Wessenberg, on April 18, 1832, “as one might think Can't read names ”.

From 1833 to 1839 Austria was represented in Brussels by only one chargé d'affaires; Ballhausplatz wanted to wait for an agreement between the Dutch king - at the same time Grand Duke of Luxembourg - and the Belgian king on the partition of Luxembourg. In the London Protocol of April 19, 1839, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, Prussia and Russia guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Belgium, which was enlarged by a large part of Luxembourg. It was only after the Netherlands had certified an envoy in Brussels that Metternich also sent a k.u.k. Envoy to Belgium, Count Moritz von Dietrichstein.

Austria-Hungary's longest-serving envoy in Brussels was Count Bohuslav Chotek von Chotkowa and Wognin, who represented the monarchy at the Belgian royal court from 1872 to 1888. There, on March 7, 1880, in the winter garden of Laeken Castle near Brussels, built in 1781 by the imperial governor Albert von Sachsen-Teschen, Crown Prince Rudolf (1858-1889) was engaged to Princess Stephanie of Belgium (1864-1945). She was the second daughter of Leopold II, King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909, and Queen Marie Henriette (1836-1902), a second aunt of Emperor Franz Josef, who in 1853 as the Austrian Archduchess had married the then Crown Prince of the Belgians. The marriage between Rudolf and Stephanie ended in the tragedy of Mayerling. Another Belgian - Austrian marriage also ended in catastrophe: Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian married Marie Charlotte, daughter of the first King of the Belgians, Leopold I, in 1857; as Emperor Maximilian of Mexico he came to a tragic end, his wife "Carlota" went mad. After all, Austria-Hungary, completely uninterested in Africa, signed the Congo Act in 1885, which secured Leopold II's possession of the Congo.

Envoy Count Chotek could not have foreseen that his daughter Sophie would marry the heir to the throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand on July 1, 1900, thus assuming the role that would have been granted to the Belgian Princess Stephanie under happier auspices.

Under Count Chotek, the embassy was in rue Montoyer. Envoy Rudolf Graf Khevenhüller-Metsch installed this in 1889 in a magnificent city palace of Baroness Overschie, which was built in 1780 during Austrian times, in rue Zinner 2. In 1902 the house was sold and the embassy temporarily moved into quarters at 34 avenue des Arts for a few months. The magnificent house on rue Zinner, by the park of the Royal Palace, has been owned by the USA since 1947 and the residence of the US ambassador in Brussels since 1953.

In 1903 the k.u.k. Legation from Comtesse de Villegas de Clercamp built a palace with stables, garages and a newly built office wing in rue Montoyer 24, which was owned by the k.u.k. until 1918. Diplomacy served but no longer exists today.

What began so hopefully in 1880 through the “dynastic connection” between Austria and Belgium was to end ominously in the summer of 1914. It followed what the later k.u.k. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count Ottokar Czernin, described in his memoirs as “our greatest misfortune” - the German attack on neutral Belgium. On August 21, 1914, German troops entered Brussels. The Belgian government withdrew to Antwerp on August 19th. The last Austro-Hungarian ambassador, Count Clary, did not follow him, but went to The Hague. From there he informed the Belgian Foreign Minister on August 28th that Austria-Hungary was breaking off diplomatic relations and that he was at war with Belgium. 75 years earlier Austria had guaranteed Belgium's sovereignty and neutrality, now war was declared under nonsensical pretexts for loyalty to the German Empire of Belgium. Clary handed over the protection of the legation and consulates in Brussels, Ghent and Liege to the US envoy and traveled to Cologne on August 29th. A clerk stayed in Brussels to protect the archives.

When the German troops failed to siege the fortress of Antwerp, the k.u.k. Skoda mortar failed - Antwerp fell on October 9, 1914. A dome of the fortress is now on display in the Vienna Army History Museum - a reminder of unpleasant times in the history of mutual relations.

During the First World War, Legation Councilor Georg Franckenstein was in Brussels as "k.u.k. Austro-Hungarian Commissar at the Imperial German General Government in Belgium ”. He installed himself in the orphaned palace of the k.u.k. Embassy, ​​since he attached importance "to a dignified office, all the more so since the gentlemen of the German administration ... officiate in the so-called splendid rooms of the various ministerial palaces ..." entrusted to the Austrian - Hungarian interests of the Spanish legation.

During the 1st Republic Austria contented itself with an honorary consulate general in Brussels and an honorary consulate in Antwerp; diplomatic relations were carried out from The Hague.

After World War II, Ballhausplatz no longer made the mistake of not being present in Belgium. After "political representations" had been set up in the capitals of the victorious powers in January 1946, the Allied Council approved one in Brussels on April 25, 1946; Today's embassy in Brussels is one of the ten oldest in the Second Republic. Envoy Lothar Wimmer arrived in Brussels on May 2, 1946, and temporarily installed himself in the Hotel Astoria. Diplomatic relations were soon established; On April 17, 1947, Wimmer presented his credentials as Austrian envoy to the Belgian regent Prince Charles. The embassy soon left the Hotel Astoria and moved to 12 Boulevard de la Cambre, 97 Avenue Moliere in 1953 and 35-36 Avenue de Klauwaerts in 1960. Over the years Austrian honorary consulates have been established in Antwerp, Charleroi, Eupen, Ghent, Liège and Ostend.

In 1964 the mission, which had meanwhile become an embassy, ​​moved into the house at rue de l’Abbaye 47. However, this soon became much too small, as the observer mission at the WEU and the NATO liaison office were also housed there. In 1997 the embassy moved to the 15th floor of the “Bastion Tower” on the Place du Champ de Mars. The embassy has been on the fifth floor of Avenue de Cortenbergh / Kortenberglaan 52 since April 2018.

Finally, a list of all Austrian ambassadors in Belgium since 1946:

Ambassador Dr. Lothar Wimmer, 1946-1950
Chargé d'affaires Dr. Kurt Farbowsky, 1950
Ambassador Dr. Felix Orsini-Rosenberg, 1950-1953
Ambassador Dr. Martin Fuchs, 1953-1958
Ambassador Dr. Ernst Lemberger, 1958-1963
Ambassador Dr. Wilhelm Goertz, 1963-1965
Ambassador Dr. Johanna Monschein, 1965-1968
Ambassador Dr. Kurt Farbowsky, 1968-1977
Ambassador Dr. Johannes Willfort, 1977-1981
Ambassador Dr. Franz Ceska, 1982-1988
Ambassador Dr. Heinz Weinberger, 1988-1993
Ambassador Dr. Erich Hochleitner, 1993-1995
Ambassador Dr. Wilfried Lang, 1996-1999
Ambassador Dr. Thomas Mayr-Harting, 1999 - 2003
Ambassador Dr. Franz Cede, 2003 - 2007
Ambassador Dr. Karl Schramek, 2008 - 2014
Ambassador Mag.Jürgen Meindl, 2015 - 2017
Ambassador Dr. Elisabeth Kornfeind, since 2017