WGA Akten

Restitution Proceedings


The procedure by which petitions for restitution were to be handled was laid down in detail in the Restitution Decree (Rückerstattungsanordnung, or REAO). Restitution proceedings commenced when a claimant filed a formal petition for restitution with the American, Brit-ish and French Military Governments’ Trustee for Confiscated Property (Treuhänder der Amerikanischen, Britischen und Französischen Militärregierung für zwangsübertragene Vermögen). The trustee forwarded the petition to the restitution office competent to deal with it, whereby jurisdiction was based on the last known location of the affected property, including property in land, companies, bank accounts and securities.

The restitution offices reviewed the petitions and sent a notice of claim to all parties con-cerned (the person or persons holding the affected property). After a certain period of time, the office was to issue a decision either to grant or to dismiss the petition for restitution. In many cases, the claimants and defendants reached amicable settlements. However, when a settlement could not be reached or if the claim was disputed the case was referred to the Restitution Chamber of the Berlin Regional Court (Landgericht).

A party could also file an appeal against a decision made by the restitution offices or the Restitution Chamber. Appeals were filed with the Board of Review and later, starting in 1953, with the Supreme Restitution Court (Oberstes Rückerstattungsgericht, or ORG. The decisions of the court were published in volumes, which have since been digitized and are available online at http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/6372944
(Court of Restitution Appeals (United States Courts of the Allied High Commission). Reports; and earlier, by: Germany (Territory under Allied occupation, 1945-1955 : U.S. Zone).

Potential claimants were given until 1 April 1959 to file a petition for restitution. Claims submitted after this cut-off date were not reviewed. Many of the restitution proceedings continued for a number of years. Indeed, some cases still had not been resolved by the 1980s.