An Enthusiastic Welcome in Cleveland for Dr. Otto Von Habsburg

Washington, DC – Dr. Otto von Habsburg continued his U.S. tour with a three-day visit to Cleveland, Ohio, on April 15-18, 2005. This was his third trip in 64 years to a city, once known as the “second-largest Hungarian city” in the world.

As in Washington, Dr. Habsburg requested that his program include placing a wreath at the statue of Lajos Kossuth, who led a revolution and freedom fight against Habsburg rule in 1848-49. In Cleveland he also paid his respects at the statue whom he knew personally, Cardinal József Mindszenty, who defied Communism throughout his life. At both sites Dr. von Habsburg made remarks to members of the large Cleveland Hungarian American community who greeted him with great enthusiasm.

On a special tour of Severance Hall, home of the world-famous Cleveland Orchestra, Dr. von Habsburg reminisced about Hungarian musical talent, as he learned about the contributions to the Orchestra’s greatness by Cleveland maestros of Hungarian background, George Szell and Christoph von Dohnanyi.

On Saturday evening, The Cleveland Council of World Affairs honored Dr. von Habsburg at an elegant Gala Dinner, “An Evening of Hungarian Splendor.” Serving as co-chairs of the event were Edith Lauer, Chair Emerita of the Hungarian American Coalition, and Dr. Jeanette G. Brown, long-time Coalition patron. In introducing Dr. Habsburg to the 250 guests, Ms. Lauer said: “He has consistently opposed tyranny, including Fascism and Communism. During the Cold War he focused Europe’s attention on those Europeans whose voice could not be heard.” Dr. Habsburg commended Clevelanders, stating: “The spirit of cooperation that exists among Cleveland’s various ethnic groups is an example that needs to be followed by all others.”

On Sunday, the Habsburg Family attended Mass at the historic St. Imre Hungarian Catholic Church, filled with Hungarian worshippers. In the afternoon The Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society held a reception at the Galleria, home of the Hungarian Heritage Museum. There was much pomp and circumstance, including an Honor Guard, many Hungarian Scouts, including a young Scout dance-group The Regős, who performed the traditional “palotás” in beautiful folk costumes.

The crowd of 300 Hungarian Americans came from all over the region, including Youngstown, Toledo, and even Pittsburgh and Chicago. They rose repeatedly to enthusiastically applaud Dr. Habsburg, as he spoke both in Hungarian and English about his Hungarian identity, his lifelong advocacy in European institutions of those oppressed during the Cold War, and his great happiness last May when Hungary and nine other countries finally joined the European Union. He thanked those present for maintaining and passing down their Hungarian heritage.

The Cleveland-based members of the Hungarian American Coalition, László Böjtös and Ted Horváth, were active participants in organizing this most successful weekend. Other Coalition Board Members, Ildikó Körössy, George Pogan, and István Hargitai all contributed to the effort to make this visit truly memorable for guests and hosts alike. At the end of his Cleveland visit Dr. Habsburg remarked: “I met a collection of true patriots in Cleveland.”

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