Germany's ex-royal family win legal case against historian

BERLIN (Reuters) - A Berlin court ruled in favour of the heirs of the Prussian monarchy on Thursday in a dispute with a historian, the latest twist in a legal battle for compensation for treasures taken from the Hohenzollern dynasty after World War Two. The family, which ruled Germany until Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918, has demanded the return of thousands of paintings, sculptures and books from the German state as well as compensation for the expropriation of property by the Soviet Union whose forces occupied eastern Germany. The question of the Hohenzollerns’ relationship with Hitler is central to the family’s claims.

Reuters February 19, 2021 02:10:15 IST
Germany's ex-royal family win legal case against historian

Germanys exroyal family win legal case against historian

BERLIN (Reuters) - A Berlin court ruled in favour of the heirs of the Prussian monarchy on Thursday in a dispute with a historian, the latest twist in a legal battle for compensation for treasures taken from the Hohenzollern dynasty after World War Two.

The family, which ruled Germany until Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918, has demanded the return of thousands of paintings, sculptures and books from the German state as well as compensation for the expropriation of property by the Soviet Union whose forces occupied eastern Germany.

The question of the Hohenzollerns’ relationship with Hitler is central to the family’s claims. Under German law, compensation is only possible if the claimant did not significantly assist Nazis' rise to power.

Some historians argue the role of the Hohenzollern family was insignificant. Others say appearing with Hitler and his associates, including in a famous photo of Hitler with Crown Prince Wilhelm, eldest son of Wilhelm II, in Potsdam in 1933, was helpful and symbolic.

The family says on its website that two reports it commissioned have concluded that the family did not provide significant assistance to the Nazi regime. The family says this would back up their claim for compensation, but it also acknowledges that other reports come to a different conclusion.

As part of a roughly 7-year wrangle with the states of Berlin and Brandenburg and the federal government, Georg Friedrich Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia, who is the great-great grandson of Wilhelm II, has taken legal action against dozens of historians and journalists.

The Berlin regional court upheld a preliminary injunction in a dispute about a statement made by historian Winfried Suess in 2019 as part of a debate about possible plans for a Hohenzollern museum in which returned artefacts would be displayed and whether the family would have a say in their presentation.

Critics say any such move could lead to revisionist interpretations of history.

"The defendant is still prohibited from making the statement that the plaintiff, as the head of an old German noble family, had demanded a say in the historic representation of the family in public institutions," the court said.

Suess told Spiegel Online after the decision: "If this legal opinion prevails, researchers will have a hard time talking about their work without legal assistance in future."

The family still own one of Germany's most picturesque castles, Burg Hohenzollern, perched on a hill some 50 km (30 miles) south of Stuttgart.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Alison Williams)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.