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Fight for Re-opening of Restitution Cases Mounts in Germany

In pursuance of what has the earmarks of a concerted campaign, a third Bavarian parliamentary committee — this time the Landtag Constitutional Committee — has by unanimous vote called upon the Bavarian Government to re-open restitution cases that have already been closed through the return to the original Jewish owners of homes, real estate or businesses.

The motion asking the Bavarian Government to intervene with the Bonn Government was introduced by Free Democratic deputy Ernst Rabenstein and supported by all political groups, from left to right. None was deterred by the explanation of a government spokesman that the Federal Republic had undertaken in the Paris agreements to carry out Allied restitution legislation without change.

Prior to the committee meeting lobbyists for the “Aryanizers” — the Germans who took over Jewish property in the Nazi era and had to return it after the war — propounded the view that, no matter what undertakings Chancellor Konrad Adenauer had signed, the return of “Aryanized” property violated constitutional property guarantees. Since the constitution was paramount, they argued, the German courts would have to invalidate restitution rulings found to be “unconstitutional.”

In addition, the motion seeks compensation from the Federal Treasury for “Aryanizers” who suffered “hardship” by having to return Jewish property which they had acquired “in good faith.” Similar motions were adopted unanimously last month by the Landtag Committee on Petitions and last November by the Landtag Legal Committee.

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