Re G (Booty Case)

CourtObsolete Court (Germany)
Docket NumberCase No. 236
Germany, Reichsgericht in Criminal Matters.
Case No. 236
In re G. (Booty Case).

Warfare on Land — Booty — The State's Right of Appropriation as Distinguished from that of the Individual.

The Facts.—In the course of the operation in the Baltic provinces against the Bolshevik forces in July, 1919, the accused, a lieutenant and commander in a telephone detachment, seized from the Latvian troops (which co-operated with the Germans) some material formerly belonging to German troops. The accused subsequently retained the material and attempted to sell it to his account. He maintained that he acquired a right to the booty.

Held: That the right of the accused to appropriate the material taken away from the Latvians could not be admitted (quite apart from the fact that as the Latvian troops were never at war with Germany they could not have validly appropriated German material). The state of war does not confer either on the members of the fighting forces or on the troops as such any right of interference with the life, limbs or property of the enemy. The subjects of the rights accruing out of the state of war are only States as such or bodies recognised as belligerents. As pointed out in the decision of the Court of 16 July, 1921,1 the killing of the adversary can only then be regarded as lawful if it is in conformity with the laws of the State waging the war. Equally the right to booty is vested in the individual...

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