Option of Nationality (Germany) Case

CourtCourt of Appeal of Hamm (Germany)
Docket NumberCase No. 132
Germany, Court of Appeal of Hamm.
Case No. 132
Option of Nationality (Germany) Case.

Option — Acquisition and Loss of Nationality — Germano-Polish Treaty of August 30, 1924 (so-called Vienna Treaty) —“Return to Territory”— Meaning of — Operation of Treaties — How far Covering Acts Done Prior to the Treaty.

Treaties — Operation of — How far Covering Acts Done Prior to the Treaty.

Nationality — Acquisition and Loss of — Option — Germano-Polish Convention of August 30, 1924 (so-called Vienna Convention) —“Return to Territory”— Meaning of — Operation of Treaties — How Far Covering Acts Done Prior to the Treaty.

The Facts.—The accused was born in 1892 at Posen, in the former Prussian Province of Posen. In 1912 he went to Essen (Germany) where he took up residence. During the War he was taken prisoner by the French army. In April 1920 he was sent back to Posen, which meanwhile had been ceded to Poland. In May 1920 he returned to the Ruhr district and established his residence at Düsseldorf. Subsequently he applied for a Polish passport, which was issued to him by the Polish Consulate at Essen. The Düsseldorf police then ordered him to produce his passport in order to prove his identity and his Polish nationality. He refused to comply with this order on the ground that he was a German subject, whereupon the police fined him for not obeying the order. He then applied to the Court for a judicial decision. The relevant treaty provisions are referred to below. The lower Court acquitted him. The Court of Appeal confirmed this decision, on grounds different from those of the Court below. It

Held: that the accused had lost his Polish nationality and retained only his German citizenship. Article 91 (4) of the Treaty of Versailles provided that “Poles who are German nationals … habitually resident in Germany”—a class of persons to which the accused belonged—should remain German citizens, but that they should have the right within two years to opt in favour of Polish nationality. This provision was qualified by Article 4 of the Treaty for the Protection of Minorities of June 28, 1919, between Poland and the Allied Powers. By the latter provision Poland recognised persons of German nationality, born on her territory of parents there domiciled, as Polish nationals ipso facto and without the requirement of any formality. It was not necessary for the persons in question to be domiciled there. They constituted a class of persons identical with the “Poles who are German...

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