Status of German Reich (Civil Proceedings) Case

CourtCourt of Appeal of Bremen (Germany)
Docket NumberCase No. 11
German Federal Republic, Court of Appeal of Bremen.
Case No. 11
Status of German Reich (Civil Proceedings) Case.

States — Continuity of — Continued Existence of German Reich — Judgment against Reich — Whether Enforceable against German Federal Republic.

Persons who were subject to discriminatory treatment while the National-Socialist régime exercised supreme authority over the territory of the former German Reich, and who, by virtue of a Law enacted after the end of hostilities in the Second World War, are entitled to claim compensation for loss of or damage to property caused by officials of the former Reich in furtherance of the discriminatory policy of the National-Socialist régime, are entitled to institute proceedings against the Reich, notwithstanding that the latter is no longer politically extant as formerly constituted. Where such proceedings are well-founded, the Courts may give judgment against the Reich. A judgment so given, however, is not enforceable against the Federal Republic of Germany.

The Court, in arriving at the conclusions here summarized, said:

“The Court, following a previous decision, has constantly declared the German Reich liable to pay a sum of money expressed in Deutschemark where the claim has been one for monetary damages. In this context this Court has said that even now the German Reich could be sued as a defendant in respect of liabilities arising out of the Restitution Law. In so doing, the Court has followed the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic which has held that the German Reich must be treated as continuing to exist, even after the enactment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic, in so far as concerns existing liabilities which have not been transferred to another legal entity or cancelled. … From the point of view of the continued existence of the German Reich, Article 134 of the Constitution [of the Federal Republic] would not constitute an Com. obstacle to a judgment for payment of money being given against the Reich.1 We cannot infer from this provision that the federal law to be enacted in the future is intended primarily to provide for the fate of the liabilities of the German Reich as such, and not for the liability of the Federal Republic for the debts of the Reich. On the assumption that the German Reich continues to exist...

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