German Court Rules “aryanization” Sales Contracts Void

In a precedent-making decision, a German court here has invalidated the forced sale of businesses by Jews under Nazi laws which required the “Aryanization” of their properties. The case involved the sale of a publishing concern owned by a Jew to a high ranking Nazi officer.

For the first time, the decision also takes judicial cognizance of the fact that restitution legislation does not exist in the Soviet Zone of Germany. Under special circumstances, Jewish victims of Nazism from that part of Germany may therefore protect their interests by taking certain legal steps in West Germany, the court further stipulated.

At stake in the legal controversy was the right to employ the name of a; publishing house specializing in scientific periodicals, which was founded half a century ago in Leipzig, in what is now the Soviet Zone, by Dr. Leo Jolowicz. In 1938, the business was taken over by SS Colonel Noatzke. The Jewish founder died in Leipzig shortly thereafter, but his children found refuge in the United States and became American citizens. In New York, his son, Walter Johnson, has built up a similar publishing house, the “Academic Press.”

After the war, the “Aryanized” firm carried on in Leipzig under Soviet rule. Last year, the Jolowicz family re-established the old business under the same name, in Frankfurt. Both publishing houses claimed to be the legal successors to the original Leipzig firm and both made efforts to publish the same type of scientific journals.

In the ensuing legal dispute, the Frankfurt firm owned by the American heirs of Dr. Jolowicz has been upheld. The latter could not be expected to sue in the Soviet Zone, said the court, in view of the fact that no restitution legislation had been enacted there.

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