US Supreme Court to Hear Two Cases Related to Holocaust RestitutionBreaking News
tags: Holocaust, Supreme Court, Restitution
JNS.org – The US Supreme Court will hear two cases on Dec. 7 related to the issue of Holocaust restitution.
The court will decide if the United States has the jurisdiction, in accordance with the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, to rule about crimes that happened abroad where there was no American involvement.
Although foreign governments usually cannot be sued in US courts, exceptions for acts of terrorism or acts of property confiscation violating international law have been made in the past. The plaintiffs in both cases, Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp and Republic of Hungary v. Simon, will seek to have their cases heard based on the latter.
“The Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act gives our courts jurisdiction over lawsuits alleging property was taken in violation of international law—for instance, if the perpetrators took it as part of an effort to deliberately create conditions of life which were calculated to destroy a religious or ethnic minority group, and so violated international law by committing genocide,” Arthur Traldi, who was a counsel in filing a brief on behalf of the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists in support of the petitioners, told JNS.
“Our courts have jurisdiction as long as there is a sufficient commercial nexus to the United States, whether or not the plaintiffs are United States citizens,” he continued. “The lower courts found a sufficient commercial nexus as to these defendants, and that issue is not on appeal.”
In Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp, the Supreme Court will hear the case about a German art museum and whether or not a treasure trove known as the “Guelph Treasure” (or “Welfenschatz”) should be returned to the heirs of four Jewish art dealers in Germany.
The dealers have argued that they were forced to sell it to the Nazi-controlled Prussian government in 1935 in what they called a “genocidal taking.”
The collection, worth around $225 million, consists of medieval church relics and was owned by the House of Guelph in 1671 until it was sold to a group of art dealers in 1929. The items currently sit in the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Applied Arts Museum) in Berlin.
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