Deutsches Reich v Szachowicz-Isberger

CourtSupreme Restitution Court (Germany)
Date03 m 1956
German Federal Republic, Supreme Restitution Court, Third Division.

(Bechmann, President; Robinson, Dopffel, Flammger, Harris JJ.)

Deutsches Reich

Warfare on land Occupation of enemy territory Inhabitants Deportation and Internment of Effect of rebellion by inhabitants against Occupant Warsaw uprising, 1944 Deportation and imprisonment of Polish nationals.

War Effects of outbreak of On enemy subjects with regard to their property rights Scope of customary international law rules regarding measures against property of enemy nationals Confiscation of property for reasons of nationality Measures taken by German Reich against property of Polish nationals.

The Facts.This was a petition for review of decisions of the Restitution Chamber of the Landgericht of Regensburg and of the Oberlandesgericht of Munich. The Reich asked the Court to disapprove and set aside the decisions of the lower Courts and to dismiss the restitution claim. The claimant, Janina Szachowicz-Isberger, asked that the decision of the Oberlandesgericht be affirmed.

The claimant, then a Polish national living in Warsaw, was taken to Germany after the Warsaw uprising of August/September 1944 as a political prisoner and confined in concentration camps, first at Flossenbrg, then at Ravensbrck and later at Buchenwald. The claimant contended that she had brought jewellery and $2,000 (in Polish currency) from Warsaw to Flossenbrg, where she was deprived of both jewellery and money by local agents of the Reich. She was permitted to take the jewellery with her from Flossenbrg to Ravensbrck, but not when she went to Buchenwald. The money was never returned to her. She had carried 13,000 zlotys, which she had had to surrender at Flossenbrg and had never had returned. The claimant submitted that she was entitled to restitution as the Reich, through its agents, had thus become and had remained the possessor of the property.

The Reich contended that the deportation and internment of the claimant were the usual war measures taken by all countries at war against a rebellious population; that according to Article 1, paragraph 1, second sentence, of Law 59 (the Restitution Law)1, the surrender of valuables for safe-keeping in these circumstances did not constitute a confiscation and the Reich was not liable under Law 59; and that, in any event, there was no proof that the Reich acquired the position of owner of the objects, and the property might

well have been taken by unknown...

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