Restitution case may last a decade

BONN, Dec. 15 (JTA) — A decade may pass before a Potsdam court is in a position to rule on the entire case of 19 Jews who seek the restitution of 850 plots of land, a judge in the case has said. A Potsdam administrative court began last week to hear testimony in the case, which deals with land in the town of Teltow-Seehof, south of Berlin. The chairman of the court, Wilfried Hamm, said the testimonies of a total of 2,000 to 3,000 people might be heard. The court will first concentrate on 10 plots of the disputed land, in an effort to issue some decisions as soon as possible. Legal experts have said the case is the largest and most complicated of its kind in postwar Germany. The claimants or their family members sold the contested property in the 1930s, but were pressured to do so because they are Jewish. This case differs from most other European restitution cases in the news as of late because the land was sold “voluntarily” and not confiscated by the Nazis outright. If all the claimants win, observers said, nearly all the land in Teltow-Seehof, a small town in the state of Brandenburg, formerly East Germany, would see a change in ownership.

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