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Estitution Law Promulgated in U.S. Zone of Germany by American Military Government

November 11, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A restitution law providing for the return to Jews and other religious, racial and political persecutees of property stripped from them by the Nazis between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 became effective today in the American zone of Germany.

A joint release by the Departments of State, of the Army, and the Office of Military Government announces the establishment of a Central Filing Agency (Zentralanmeldeamt) at Bad Nauheim, Germany, through which claims to real estate, business property, securities, personal and other types of property may be filed up to December 31, 1948.

Under terms of the law, restitution may be made in kind or in German marks which will not be convertible into dollars or other foreign exchange “until foreign exchange is generally available for such purposes.” All available dollars in Germany are currently being used for necessary imports, and additional millions of dollars are being paid into the country by the U.S. Government to finance further imports necessary for occupation purposes and this burden must be eased before any dollars will become available for restitution purposes, it is explained.

No provision is made in the law for the restitution to Jewish organizations of money accruing from heirless Jewish property. Within the next few weeks, however, another regulation of the law will be completed which will designate a central Jewish organization to “succeed to” heirless Jewish property and to distribute any funds accruing from it among Jewish organizations for use in assisting persecutees. Section 10 of the law provides that no property shall revert to the German state but shall either be returned to its rightful owner, if living, or to a “successor organization” designated by the American Military Government.

The law follows several months of effort by AMG officials to create a quadripartite law effective in all four zones in agreement with the other three occupying powers. Failing this, it was decided on October 16 to promulgate a law in the American zone only. The measure applies only to property presently in the U.S. zone of Germany. It does not apply to property in the city of Berlin where it is still hoped a quadripartite law can be worked out. If this proves impossible an attempt will be made to extend the measures of the zonal law to the U.S. sector of Berlin.


In accordance with U.S. policy of turning over to the German people the responsibility for governmental functions, the administration of the law will be carried out through the German court system with general supervision and the right of review to be exercised by the Military Government authorities. If a dispute arises the matter will be adjudicated by the Restitution Chamber, which will be a branch of the ordinary German courts, composed of a judge and two other legally qualified persons, one of them belonging “to a class of persons persecuted under the Nazis.” Appeals will be taken to the German appeal courts.

Non-residents of Germany filing claims should nominate in the claim for restitution a person within Germany to receive, as the agent of the claimant, service of all papers and notices made in connection with the law. General authorization has been or will be given to allow all steps necessary for delivery of powers of attorney and the filing, procecution and defense of claims under this law.

Described as an “internal restitution law” the measure does not include property seized by the Nazis in countries outside of Germany. Claimants must still apply to the governments of the country in which the property is located for realiza- tion of such claims. The measure does not apply to claims for war damage and war injury which will be covered by laws which have not yet been promulgated. All claims for restitution of property in Germany must be made after November 10, 1947 and no previous information will be honered as a claim, it is stated.

Copies of the American law and its regulations are being made available to the governments of all countries outside of Germany, and the Civil Affairs Division of the Army Department plans distribution of the American text to key libraries throughout the United States.

In order to facilitate the location of restitutable property a duty is imposed upon persons in Germany who have or have had such property in their possession after its wrongful taking to report any such property of a value over 1,000 reichmarks to the Central Filing Agency before May 15, 1948, it is stated.

A special Military Government license must be obtained before entering into any transaction with respect to restitutable property and before entering into any transection involving persons outside Germany and persons inside Germany or before consummating any foreign exchange transaction.

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