(JTA) — The City of Vienna is threatening to sue for libel an American descendant of the Rothschild family for accusing the municipality of extending Nazi policies of expropriation.
A municipal spokesperson remarked about legal action to the Der Standard newspaper this week. It was the latest development in a legal conflict that began last year between the city and Geoffrey Hoguet and the Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild’sche Foundation for the Mentally Ill that belonged to Hoguet’s great-great-uncle.
Hoguet, 70, sued the city last year demanding it reconstitute the foundation according to his ancestor’s wishes and transfer control to an independent party. A 12-member committee had run the foundation, which opened two psychiatric care institutions.
After the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938, the Jewish Rothschilds were expelled, their property seized and the foundation dissolved, AFP reported. In 1956, the foundation was reestablished and placed directly under the control of the city of Vienna.
“The actions of the city represent a unique case of self-dealing and thus possibly one of the most cynical cases in the history of expropriations, aryanizations and (failed) returns in post-war Austria,” reads a text on the homepage of a website established by Hoguet detailing his fight to have the foundation reconstituted.
The municipality spokesperson told Der Standard: “The city reserves the right to take legal action and legally checks the allegations made on the homepage for libel and reputation-damaging or credit-damaging behavior.”