Tags: Supreme Court | supremecourt | nazi | heirs | art | immunity

Supreme Court Denies Heirs' Claim to Nazi Obtained Art

Supreme Court Denies Heirs' Claim to Nazi Obtained Art
(Manuel Balce Ceneta, File/AP)

By    |   Thursday, 04 February 2021 07:09 PM

Jews who had property taken from them or coerced into selling it by Nazi Germany in the 1930s cannot sue in U.S. federal court to reclaim the property for its modern-day value, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.

The unanimous ruling Wednesday came in the reported $250 million medieval Christian art collection known as the Welfenschatz and was based on ''sovereign immunity,'' which bars American courts from intervening in cases between foreign governments and their citizens.

The case, Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp, involved heirs of the owners of the collection, who claim their ancestors were coerced into selling the art at a third of the value in 1935. When the U.S. Army conquered Germany to end World War II, it took possession of the Welfenschatz and eventually turned it over to the new German government.

The heirs argued that their claim is exempt from sovereign immunity's ''domestic takings'' law because it was ''property taken in violation of international law.''

But the court disagreed.

''This 'domestic takings rule' assumes that what a country does to property belonging to its own citizens within its own borders is not the subject of international law,'' Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court.

''We have recognized that United States law governs domestically but does not rule the world.''

Roberts did offer the heirs another chance by sending the case back to the district court, saying it was not ruling on the heirs' additional claim that their ancestors were not citizens of Germany at the time.

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Jews who had property taken from them or coerced into selling it by Nazi Germany in the 1930s cannot sue in U.S. federal court to reclaim the property for its modern-day value, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled. The unanimous ruling Wednesday came in the reported $250 million...
supremecourt, nazi, heirs, art, immunity
254
2021-09-04
Thursday, 04 February 2021 07:09 PM
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