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Emigre German Jews May Recover Property in Thuringian Province of Soviet-held Germany

Emigre German Jews who sold their property during the Nazi regime may now recover it in at least one province of Russian-held Germany, a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent learned during a tour of the Soviet zone.

Following an order by Marshal Gregory Zhukov last September, the provincial government of Thuringia issued a decree ordering the immediate return of all former Jewish property to the original owners. It was automatically assumed under the law that all property sales by Jews during the reign of the Nazis were made under duress and therefore subject to restitution.

In the case of Jews who returned to their homes in the province, each made application for recovery to the local Jewish community, supplying all data pertinent to the property transfer. Where the property is in the possession of a known active Nazi, it is returned to the Jew and no compensation is allowed the owner. If, however, the present owner is not a Nazi, he is compensated by the German Government which pays him the same sum which the Jew originally received.

Jews who fled Germany and have not returned must write the Thuringian Government requesting return of their property and giving full details of the sale. Letters should be addressed to President Rudolf Paul at Weimar. The government turns the claim over to the Jewish community in the locality where the property was sold and the community makes the investigation. If the findings are in favor of the emigre claimant he may recover his property by paying the present owner the price which he originally received.

At present the law is in operation only in Thuringia, but other states in the Soviet zone are preparing similar legislation. Final disposition of the property of Jews who died heirless has not yet been decided upon. At present such property is handed over to the local Jewish community, and it is expected that it will remain in the community’s possession permanently.

Upon the return of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent to the American zone, he interviewed American military government officials who expressed great interest in the law and admitted that no similar decrees are in effect in Western Germany. When the officials inquired for details the correspondent told them where to write for a copy of the law.

The American authorities said that at present three German provincial presidents were meeting at Stuttgart and some kind of action on Jewish property restitution could be expected soon.

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