Confiscation of Property of Sudeten Germans Case

CourtRegional Court (Germany)
Docket NumberCase No. 12
Germany, Amtsgericht of Dingolfing.
Case No. 12
Confiscation of Property of Sudeten Germans Case.

Aliens — Respect for Property of — Expropriation without Compensation.

Disputes — Unilateral Means of Redress — Reprisals — Subjects of — Requirement of Proportionality.

War — Effects of Outbreak of — On Enemy Subjects with regard to their Property.

Recognition of Acts of Foreign States and Governments — Enforcement of Foreign Legislation Violative of International Law — Aliens — Respect for Property of — Expropriation without Compensation — War — Effects of Outbreak of — On Enemy Subjects with regard to their Property — Disputes — Unilateral Means of Redress — Reprisals — Subjects of — Requirement of Proportionality — Minorities — Protection of National, Racial and Linguistic Minorities apart from Treaty.

The Facts.—The plaintiff and the defendant were Sudeten Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia in 1946. They were in the same camp prior to deportation, and both had brought sewing-machines with them. The sewing-machines were seized by Czech camp officials in pursuance of a decree of the President of the Czechoslovak Republic concerning the confiscation of enemy property. Subsequently the defendant, who was a professional sempstress, was given the sewing-machine which had belonged to the plaintiff. She brought the machine to Germany, where the plaintiff now sued to recover it. The question at issue was whether the Czech decree under which the machine had been seized deprived the plaintiff of the property therein.

Held: that the plaintiff was entitled to recover the machine. The seizure of private enemy property was contrary to international law. A foreign decree contrary to international law could not be recognized. The Czech decree was contrary to international law in that it provided for the confiscation of the property of aliens. The Court said:

“… The seizure cannot be regarded as valid because the decree of the President of the Czechoslovak Republic of 25 October 1945 concerning the confiscation of enemy property, on which it was based, cannot be recognised as valid by a German Court in respect, at least, of movable property of which Sudeten Germans were deprived during their stay in Czechoslovakia, and which was later brought to Germany. That decree is a flagrant violation of international law and of natural law, and must therefore be regarded as being contra bonos mores.

“The Czech authorities seek to justify the decree in the light of...

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