Liechtenstein prince angers many with 'fourth' Reich letter

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Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein has dubbed Germany a "fourth" Reich, drawing fire from Jewish groups who accused him of trivializing Nazi crimes, and stoking already-tense relations between the two countries.

The prince, Liechtenstein's head of state, made the comments in a letter to the Jewish Museum in Berlin explaining why he would not make a painting available to an exhibition of artworks stolen by the Nazis.

"I would really have liked to support the exhibition, as our collection was itself a victim of art theft during World War II and afterwards, if only it wasn't in Germany," he said in the letter published Thursday by the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

He added: "As far as German-Liechtenstein relations are concerned, we are waiting for better times, which I am hopeful for, as we have already survived three German Reichs in the past 200 years and I hope we will also survive a fourth one."

The Jewish Museum received the letter in June. In it, the prince told the museum's director, Michael Blumenthal, that he would not loan the museum "Portrait of a Man," a painting by the 17th-century Dutch artist Frans Hals, because Germany had shown itself to be "less and less inclined to abide by basic principles of international law."

The prince has waged numerous legal battles in Germany to recover artwork he claims was looted from his family by the Nazis during World War II.

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