A casual glance at an unfamiliar medal can lead to startling
discoveries. An example is a 29-millimeter gold-plated .925 fine
silver piece from 1941, bearing three conjoined busts facing right
over a laurel branch, with minute artist’s signature JOSEPHU. The
reverse bears the Latin legend VIRIBUS UNITIS/ MCMXLI/ PRO AUSTRIA,
“By United Strengths, For Austria.”
“Just another of those Austrian things” a casual collector might
think from the mottoes, before taking a close look at the edge bearing
an incuse MEDALLIC ART CO. NY STERLING. New York 1941, not
1914! This medal is a relic of a very obscure chapter of World War II
and the postwar settlements explored by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The busts are those of the last reigning Habsburg emperors of
Austria, right to left, Franz Joseph; his grand-nephew, Karl, emperor and apostolic king of Hungary; and
The Versailles peace settlements partitioned the Habsburg Empire. A new republic of Austria
emerged, consisting of the city of Vienna surrounded by scenery,
bankrupt, with a shabby present and uncertain future. First called
Deutschösterreich, German Austria, its socialist rulers sought
Anschluss or union with the neighboring German Republic, but this was
prevented by the victorious Allies.
After inflation, civil war and authoritarian rule, Anschluss was
achieved by main force in March 1938 when Adolf Hitler’s forces
marched into Austria.
Otto had opposed this union and was condemned to death by the Nazis,
who were implacably anti-Habsburg. With his mother, the former Empress Zita, he came to the United States,
where he worked for the restoration of Austrian independence.
Otto and his mother met with Franklin
and Eleanor Roosevelt at their Hyde Park estate and the archduke
advocated closer union in postwar central Europe, perhaps under his
leadership. His vision of closer union after the war was opposed by
Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and by influential voices in the
U.S. State Department.
Pro Austria was Otto’s organization for a free Austria, which was
ultimately achieved despite Austria’s division into Allied occupation
zones. Otto was barred from postwar Austria until the 1960s, but was a
significant leader in the European Union and served in the European
parliament with distinction in 1979 to 1999.
More from CoinWorld.com:
'Jefferson' cent: The saw-maker's patterns
dimes led off first D. Brent Pogue Collection auction May 19 in
New York City
David Bowers immersed in Seated Liberty quarter dollars, putting
final touches on new reference
of two known 2014 American Eagle, Narrow Reeds tenth-ounce gold
bullion coins sells for $28,650
March of Dimes Special Silver Set still 'Currently Unavailable'
from U.S. Mint
Keep up with all of CoinWorld.com's news and insights by
up for our free eNewsletters
liking us on Facebook
us on Twitter
. We're also on