“In rejecting the restitution case in 2014 the courts refused to hear the testimony of historian Sir Antony Beevor, among other experts, rejected the British Intelligence report confirming the arrest and confiscation was a result of the 1944 plot, and failed to ask the government to provide expert testimony”
Lord Peter Goldsmith, July 2019
THE LEGAL CASE
In 2014, the German government ruled that in order to qualify for restitution, orders to transfer Prince Friedrich’s land must be proved to have been issued before May 1945 (restitution laws do not apply to post-May 1945 cases).
A chance discovery was made by a researcher of mis-filed, ‘destruction orders’ which prove Nazi intent to conceal the theft. Subsequent, independently conducted, scientific chemical ink analysis of these destruction orders prove incontrovertibly that they fall within the specified period. The test was undertaken with a representative of the Brandenburg State Archive present.
This evidence forms the backbone of the new claim. It meets the criteria the government has set, and is supported by an independent, world-leading expert.
Since the discovery of this claim lawyers have estimated that 10-20% of outstanding claims within the Brandenburg State archive can be ascribed as potential new ‘restitution’ cases – that is, they relate to actions taken pre-May 1945 by the Nazi government. This could see thousands of cases being considered ‘restitution’ claims. This, therefore, apart from the administrative nightmare that this case presents, could represent the tip of the iceberg.
The official position of the Federal Republic until the late 1960's was that the Nazi dictatorship enjoyed the rule of law and thus the courts had to adhere by these laws.
The court cases of famed state District Attorney Fritz Bauer challenged public opinion and opened the eyes of the judiciary: resulting in the Nazi dictatorship being recognised as a lawless regime, thus invalidating its laws and agreements. The work of Bauer – who was both gay and Jewish – contributed to the creation of an independent, democratic justice system in West Germany, now the Federal Republic.
The collusion of the German government through failure to provide relevant information and of the courts in failing to systematically investigate the state’s claim whilst denying evidence or failing to request further evidence, is corroding this independent and democratic legal system.
When taken to its ultimate conclusion this breakdown in impartiality has the potential to adversely affect all Germans. No-one is safe if politicians and bureaucrats are able to misdirect the legal process for political purposes – least of all minorities and those groups who do not have the power to represent or protect themselves against the majority. Enlightened Germans such as Fritz Bauer knew only too well where this leads.