A Great Place to be in Florida

by | Mar 4, 2003 | Archives

This week Merri and I had the chance to spend time with a friend who is one of the most fascinating people I know. His name is Prince Alfred von Habsburg-Hohenberg. Though he has been a U.S. citizen for many years he grew up in Germany and was a German officer in WWII winning many honors for his bravery in hand to hand combat.

In the book “Inferno” which is about the “Battle of Stalingrad”, he is described as a ferocious fighter and soldier in the German army, but Prince Alfred was also recently honored for being a Christian who helped 200 Jews escape Nazi, Germany. Toward the end of the war, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel but then became suspected of this resistance and was imprisoned in Dachau probably being saved from execution only by the war's end. For more details about this history see below.

His home is a museum of his ancestry and he has items signed by dignitaries ranging from great musicians such as Bach and Brahms, scientists such as Albert Schweitzer, Einstein and Werner von Braun, plus great soldiers such as Field Marshal Rommel and the Red Baron to name a few. I can listen to his family stories and history for hours.

Today's message shares a place Merri and I visited with Prince Alfred and Princess Jean, the ranch of Col. Ottomar Herrmann who owns and trains a stable of Lipizzan Stallions.

What incredible creatures these magnificent horses are. What a history as well! The Colonel's family has been doing this breeding and training for 300 years. They are devoted animal lovers and keep this rich heritage going in the United States. Colonel Herrmann belongs to an ancient order of knights of which Prince Alfred is Grand Prior so we were invited to have coffee after the performance and to hear more about the history of these Lipizzans. Learn more about Lipizzans.

Col. Hermann's stallions were rescued in WWII by General George Patton. This true story is so dramatic it was made into a movie, “Miracle of the White Stallions”. Later General Patton's vision helped bring the horses to the U.S.

I highly recommend that anyone traveling near the Tampa-Sarasota area in winter stop by the Colonel's farm and watch these animals perform. It is not only an exquisite experience but such a link with history. Performances are in the winter only and are Thursday, Friday, at 3 and Saturday at 10 a.m. For more information on the Baroque horses, the Royal Lipizzan Stallions of Austria, and their American Renaissance of Classical Equitation go to Born of Baroque.

Until next message, I hope that wherever you are is a great place to be.