X v D

Date15 Marzo 1949
Docket NumberCase No. 186
CourtObsolete Court (Germany)
American Zone of Germany, Court of Appeal of Kassel.
Case No. 186

War — Seizure of War Booty — Larceny of Private Property — Purchase by Individual — Law Applicable — Article 53 of the Hague Regulations.

The Facts.—The plaintiff, in an action for the return of a tractor in the possession of the defendant, contended that the tractor had been stolen from his farm by French prisoners of war who had subsequently abandoned it on a public highway. The defendant, on the other hand, contended that he had come into possession of the tractor as the result of a sale effected by or on the instructions of the American military authorities who had seized the tractor as war booty formerly used by the German army. On these conflicting allegations of fact the case reached the Court of Appeal from the District Court.

Held (by the Court of Appeal): that the case must be sent back to the District Court for further evidence as to the facts and for decision upon the basis of the following rules of law:

(i) If on the facts the District Court were to reach the conclusion that the tractor had originally been used by the German Army and had subsequently been captured and sold by or on the instructions of the American military authorities, the plaintiff would not be entitled to claim its return;

(ii) if, on the other hand, the District Court were to reach the conclusion that the tractor had been stolen by French prisoners of war and had never been previously used by the German army, its sale to the defendant would not enable the latter to acquire the ownership thereof.1 The Court said:

“… The plaintiff says that he received a letter in the following terms:

‘Office, Military Government, January 22, 1946.

‘1. The tractor of which you claim to be the owner has been identified as a German Army vehicle and confiscated as such by the American Army. All German Army property is the property of the Army of the United States.

‘2. As a German Army vehicle the tractor was impounded in the car park of [the district of] Z. and sold to Mr. D. for 5,000 marks. The purchase price has been paid into a blocked account which is under requisition by the Military Government.



‘5. I repeat: Mr. D. bought this tractor as a German Army vehicle from the car park of Z. The money has been handed over to the Military Government. …’

“First, the Court of first instance will have to examine the question whether, as the defendant alleges, the tractor is a vehicle which has previously been...

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