BIOGRAPHY IN DATES
1919 – Franz Wittelsbach, Prinz von Bayern in born in the township Bistritz am Hostein bei Holleschau, Moravia. Due to the fact that he is born outside of legal wedlock, under the applicable laws, he is registered under her mother’s surname as Franz Hans Leopold Maria Zapletal. His godparents are Prince Alfons of Bavaria and his sister Princess Elvira of Bavaria, Countess von Wrbna-Kaunitz-Rietberg-Questenberg and Freudenthal. The ceremony took place at Schloß Holleschau.
1921 - District Court in Holleschau legitimizes Franz and rules that his legal name shall be Franz Hans Leopold Maria Wittelsbach (as titles of aristocracy are officially illegal in Czechoslovakia as of 1919).
1923 – Franz and his mother leave Bistritz and settle in the Prussian town Breslau.
1928 - On the request of his father Prince Georg, and with the permission of Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, Franz is also legitimized under the laws of Royal House of Bavaria. He begins attending the Benedictine abbey school in Seckau, Austria.
1930 – Franz’ grandfather, Prince Leopold of Bavaria dies in Munich.
1931 - By the order of Regierungspräsident Wilhelm Happ, Franz receives his father’s surname "Prinz von Bayern" as is officially known as Franz Hans Leopold Maria Wittelsbach, Prinz von Bayern. He also moves to Munich, Bavaria, where he lives in the household of Prince Alfons of Bavaria.
1932 – Franz’ grandmother, Archduchess Gisela dies in Munich.
1937 – Franz passes his Abitur. November: He is drafted to the German army. His application to join the Luftwaffe is rejected and he is instead assigned to the 1. Panzer Division stationed in Erfurt.
1938 – He is forced out of military school in Munich as a result of an affair with married actress Magda Schneider, who was 10 years his senior. After rejoining the 1. Panzer Division during the operations in Sudetenland, Franz is re-admitted, on the direct order of Chief of the General Staff of the German Army Ludwig Beck, to the military academy in Wiener-Neustadt. His instructor at that time is Erwin Rommel.
1939 – In May attends wedding of Franz Count of Kageneck and Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria. As a first Lieutenant, Franz takes part in the invasion of Poland. He is awarded Iron Cross II. class.
1940 – Participates in the capture of Belgium, Luxemburg and the Battle for France. In June is wounded when his panzer overturns during attack on Besancon. He is awarded the Iron Cross I. class. Later the same month is relieved from all combat duties and assigned to the personal staff of General Guderian. July: Becomes the owner of Chateau du Mont-Cerisy in Normandy. He is reassigned to OKW Berlin and later to 15. Panzer Division in Darmstadt. His request to join the German Air force is approved. During his Christmas leave he is arrested by the Gestapo in Munich while assisting his family members to escape from Germany. He is further charged with an assault and sent to the military prison at the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich.
1941 – January: Franz is released from Dachau and placed under house of arrest in Munich. He is officially one of the first aristocrats to be cashiered from the German military under the Hitler’s order known as Prinzenerlass. He escapes the Nazi detention in Munich and flees to rural Moravia. March: His mother and close family members are arrested by the Gestapo. April: Franz marries Irenne Repnak using the name Franz Zapletal and moves on a farm on the outskirts of Ratibor.
1942 - Franz’ mother Josepha dies as a result of harsh interrogation by the Gestapo. February: His wife gives a birth to their first child, Maria Josepha Anna Louise.
1943 – Franz’s father, Prince Georg of Bavaria dies in Rome from Tuberculosis.
1944 – Franz starts working as one of Cardinal Bertram private secretaries. After the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler, Bertram sends Franz to live on the archbishop's castle Johannesberg near Jauernig.
1945 – After the siege of Breslau. Cardinal Bertram and his staff arrive to Jauernig. May: The War is over. Czech partisans and local militia begin the expulsion of German people from Sudetenland. July: Cardinal Bertram dies in Jauernig. August: Irenne gives birth to the couple's second child, Karolus Magnus Georg Anders Luitpold Maria. Franz using his own funds and connections within the Catholic Church begins moving ethnic Germans and their property from Sudetenland to Bavaria.
1946 – March: Found not affected, by the Law of Liberation from Nazism and Militarism, by the Spruchkammer (Principal de-Nazifiction) Court in Nuremberg.
Hundreds more German families are rescued and safely reach Germany.
1948 – Communistic Coup d'état takes place in Czechoslovakia. Last of the German families leave Sudetenland. Due to his wife’s pregnancy Franz is unable to leave Jauernig in time. July: Franz’ wife gives birth to their third child, Franz-Anders Georg Luitpold Maria.
1949 – Franz’s German heritage is uncovered by the communists. He is arrested and prohibited from leaving Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, the communist high court revokes Franz' right to his German name and places him and his family under house of arrest. Franz is now know only as Frantisek Zapletal.
1955 – Crown prince Rupprecht dies in Starnberg, Bavaria. With his passing, Franz’ relationship with his paternal family deteriorates.
1989 – Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia
1991 – Franz is visited by his cousin, Prince Eugen of Bavaria. This is the last time, he meets with another member of the Bavarian Royal Family.
1994 – Franz’ beloved wife, Irenne, dies.
1997 – Franz meets with the ethnic Germans and their descendants whom he saved 50 years earlier. Later the same year he is diagnosed with the Alzheimer’s disease.
1999 – Franz is interned at a sanatorium in Weisswasser. His condition is improving. October 24, 1999 – Franz Wittelsbach, Prinz von Bayern dies at a local hospital in Freiwaldau. He is buried 5 days later on the city cemetery in Jauernig next to his wife and beside the tomb of his friend Cardinal Bertram.
The above section is the result of hard work and dedication of Tomas Darius, Clara Suarez-Gause, Laura del Barrio Arragon and Jiri Vanek. Furthermore, Mr. Darius is currently working on additional research into the life of Franz Wittelsbach, Prinz von Bayern and plans to publish his biography sometime in the next two to three years.
Copyright © 1999-2012 George H. Wythe. All rights reserved