Dr. Count Christian Orssich de Slavetich

Count Christian Orssich with King Peter II of Yugoslavia.
(Left; Count Orssich. Right; King Peter.)

A Tribute to;

Dr. Count Christian Orssich de Slavetich.

Christian Orssich was born on the 6th January 1913, in Agram (Zagreb) in Croatia, then still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, attached to the Yugoslavian Kingdom in 1918.

After studies abroad and military service, he participated to the Yougoslav-German conference of foreign ministers in Vienna which led to February-March 1941 revolt against the Regency and brought the young King Peter II to power.
After the Nazi invasion on April 6, 1941 the King and his Royal Chancery left for Egypt via Greece. Count Orssich was requested to join the King and managed, after much difficulties to reach Cairo via Hungary, Turkey and Palestine on September 12th 1941.
He stayed in the service of the King until the end of World War II when Yugoslavia fell under the communist regime.

In view of organising assistance to the large number of political refugees the King asked him to organise the national services from a basis in Rome with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and appointed him as Plenipotentiary Minister to the Vatican and Chief of Protocole. He served as Ambassador to the Popes Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI until 1965. Up to King Peter II’s death in 1970 he was a member of the King’s closest entourage and accompanied him on private and official voyages to Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom and the USA

Later on he accepted functions as director of financial institutions in Switzerland and West-Germany, specialised in barter trade with developing countries such as the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Ecuador and Brazil. In 1997 he was appointed Consul General of the Republic of the Comores and lead a research project to bring the Comoran fishery and related marketing of industrial products up to international standards, a project which – due to his advanced age and deteriorating state of health - he could unfortunately not bring to final results.

In the 1960’s King Peter II requested him to produce, in collaboration with leading lawyers in France, Switzerland and Germany, the text of what is known as the King Peter II Constitution of the Order of the Hospitallers of Saint-John of Jerusalem under the protection of the Karageorgevic Dynasty. He was a Bailiff of this Order since 1962 and became a member with rank of Bailiff of the OOSJ under the leadership of the Hereditary Commanders of the Russian Empire and honorary chairman of the OSJ International Humanitarian Institution whereto King Baudoiun gave, upon request of Grandmaster Prince Andrej Karageorgevic, legal status by Royal Decree dd. 21.04.1991.

He was honoured with the Grand Cross of St. Sava, the War Cross, the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown, the Grand Cross of the White Eagle, the Constantinian Order of St. George and Grand Officer of the Order of Saint Maurice and Saint Lazarus. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Royal Geographic Society and the Institute of Directors. Only his closest friends knew that he was also honoured with the Order of the Golden Fleece by Don Jaime de Bourbon-Battenberg (Spanish branch).

Those who had the privilege of knowing and working with Count Christian Orssich realise how well, as a result of his facing the ups and downs of life and dealing with the problems of the less well off, he wisely distinguished between the essentials of Christian ethics and the ostentatious attitude of modern society. With is personal charm and esprit he embodied the life style of the " Kavalier der alten Schule" (the Cavalier of the old School), not as a superfluous attitude but as deep inter conviction and necessity. With him one of the last representatives of this type of man leaves us.

Count Christian Orssich de Slavetich OSJ died in Düsseldorf, after a painful series of surgical operations, on May 5th 2000. His last message, as printed on the formal announcement of his departure to a better world, was William Faulkner’s idea : "The past is never dead, it isn’t even past".

V: Rest eternal grant unto him O'Lord.

R: And let light perpetual shine upon him.

We salute you - Soldier of Christ!

Updated 4th September 2000

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