Opocno chateau back in state hands

Opocno Chateau, photo: CTK

After more than a decade of ownership disputes in the Czech courts, east Bohemia's renaissance Opocno Chateau is now back in state hands. On Tuesday, Countess Kristina Colloredo-Mansfeld - a descendant of the original owners of the popular tourist attraction - handed over the chateau to the national heritage institute. She was forced to give back the property to the state because her father is accused of having collaborated with the Nazis.

Kristina Colloredo-Mansfeld,  photo: CTK
Consequently, under Czech law her family has no right to reclaim any property confiscated by the government after the Second World War. The countess has vowed to clear her family's name and may now take the case to the European courts. Dita Asiedu spoke to Kristina Colloredo-Mansfeld a day after she returned Opocno Chateau to the authorities:

"You don't steal things, finally give them back, and then take them again. That was very painful."

I understand you've invested quite a bit into the chateau without knowing whether or not it would stay in your hands...

Opocno Chateau,  photo: CTK
"Not into the chateau itself. There, I only fixed one leak in the roof. But in the park we had to paint the whole orangery, which looked terrible, and then the letohradek [summer villa] was painted and fixed - the walls were fixed and the floor was newly done. We also cut a lot of bushes in the park, which was a mess. But I didn't do anything in the chateau except for the roof but that's because the pamatkari [the national heritage institute] had rented it from me and they were supposed to be looking after it.

"What would be my biggest wish is to get it back, rent it to them for a crown, and be involved in the exhibits and everything else going on there. That would be the best thing."

You're not just fighting for a building that used to belong to your family; you're fighting for a place that used to be part of your childhood...

"Yes, it was my childhood, but you know childhoods in those days were not so wonderful. We were kicked out of the castle by the Nazis and we had to live in this horrible villa, which had mould on the walls, and my mother was ill. Those were bad times so my good childhood memories all have to do with Canada."

Yours is not the only aristocratic family that is currently trying to get property back from the state. Have you thought of joining forces?

"I have thought of joining forces but I started fifteen or fourteen years ago without joining forces and so I think I will continue on my own. I think it's the way I'm going to go now."