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Germany can be sued over Hitler-era bonds, US court says

AFP · 12 Aug 2010, 08:06

Published: 12 Aug 2010 08:06 GMT+02:00

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"The court decided that the complaint filed against Germany can proceed to discovery and that the case should not be dismissed because Germany is a 'foreign sovereign,'" said Michael Elsner, who represents Tampa-based World Holdings in the case.

"We requested damages in the hundred of millions of dollars range, it's a number over $450 million," the lawyer added.

The bonds were issued by Germany to rebuild the country after World War I (1914-1918), but repayment was stopped by then chancellor Adolf Hitler in 1933 as he was preparing for World War II, court documents showed.

Elsner said Germany has argued that the bonds were repaid after World War II, but that many were stolen by Russian troops at the time, requiring a special document validation process in Germany before any reimbursement claim can be answered.

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A German Embassy official in Washington declined to comment on the case.

Elsner said Wednesday's ruling meant investors can continue with their lawsuit seeking repayment, adding that the case would now return to the district court in Miami for further instruction.

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Your comments about this article

09:51 August 12, 2010 by 9900lawre
Is this some jumped up git who inherited a business that isn't doing to well in todays climate?

Any normal investor would have written off the debt by now. This was possibly 92 years ago when the investment was made. I mean are these investors still alive?

Does VW still pay dividends to the MOD for rebuilding it? proberbly not. Enough is enough for the money grabbers, it's time to move on.
10:51 August 12, 2010 by William Thirteen
ah, German history, the gift that keeps on giving.

more info at this old guardian piece

14:07 August 12, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
Who is Germany? The case is with the Government that issued the bonds or the one that stopped paying. Take it up with Hitler!
19:52 August 12, 2010 by michael4096
I thought the whole idea behind bonds was that they may not be repaid. That's why there are differing rates. Or, what on earth was the greek thing all about?

So if risk is covered by return, where do courts come in to it?
00:47 August 13, 2010 by Prufrock2010
It's not unusual that a judge would allow the case to proceed to discovery. Discovery is not a right under German law, but it is under American law. But it is dispositive of nothing. The chances of the plaintiffs obtaining useful discovery, let alone discovery that will overcome a motion to dismiss, are in my view nonexistent. But let the case play out through the law and motion stage and then relax. The case will eventually be dismissed, but lawyers on both sides will be amply rewarded in the interim. The plaintiffs will recover nothing.
08:26 August 13, 2010 by wenddiver
Sue somebody, if you can't shoot them, it's the American way. In a way sueing is better, because you don't have to stop sueing your enemy when he is dead, sue the estate.
08:57 August 13, 2010 by recherche
It beggars belief how these things periodically get dragged up so many decades later. There should be a time limit in order to prevent this ridiculous state of affairs.

All investments have a risk, even Government Bonds. This risk should be very low, but it is still there. You invest to get a financial return, and you accept risk.
15:22 August 13, 2010 by wagnha
So if you have any US Confederate war bonds laying around you should be able to cash them in. The Confederacy lost the war....bonds worthless.....Germany lost a war.....bonds worthless (new constitution, etc.).

This only says the case can go forward. The bond holders will not win in the end. Also, if the people in question relinquished their German citizenship for US citizenship they may not be able to sue a foreign government anyway.

It generally isn't in the interest of governments to allow this after such a long time period. You never know what you will be on the hook for yourself.
18:13 August 13, 2010 by TravelOnward
Risk people...it is all about risk. I currently hold municipal bonds...guess what...the municipality can go bust and I loose everything. That is a risk that I am willing to take for the promise of a higher return. These knuckle heads that think that a court can mitigate their risk are fools. The bonds were issued by a government that does not exist any longer. Just like the American holdings in Cuba that were lost when Castro came to power. The Batista government does not exist any longer...so the debts of that government are null and void. Get over it and choose less risky investments if you don't have the appropriate risk tolerance for your chosen investment.
21:43 August 13, 2010 by wxman
I'm an American and think this is absolutely ridiculous. Wagnha has it right. Maybe Germany can go after the Roman Empire for some payback too?
22:23 August 13, 2010 by Kennneth Ingle
The question has already been raised ¦quot;Who (what) is Germany?¦quot; The Bundesrepublic of Germany has already paid Billions of debts, for which it was not legally ­ under German laws ­ responsible.

A partial inheritance is not possible!

If, as it is often argued and expected, the small rest of the former German Reich is to pay all the damages caused by the Nazi government of Hitler, it must on the other hand be reimbursed with everything which was wrongly confiscated by its enemies during the Post-war years.

Germany lost not only a fifth of its territories, but also the private properties of more than 15 million citizens.

We might, or might not, be of the opinion that the Germans had only themselves to blame for the robberies, murders and deportations which occurred at the end of WW2. There can however be little doubt these post-war crimes did not hit the Nazis (the majority of whom had fled), but quite normal people who had harmed nobody.

What cannot be correct is an inheritance which is only based on the negative elements of the past. To claim compensation from a state which has already paid for what it did is more than absurd.

The USA did a lot for Europe during WW2, a lot of American lives were also lost, but from a financial point of view, the war was a good business. American courts should stop trying to judge for the whole world, that is not their job and we can do well without them!
23:10 August 13, 2010 by Yontrop
"...'it's a number over $450 million,' the lawyer added."

It's not about justice or even the investors. If they win, the lawyers get 40%. And then there are the administrative fees for distributing the rest to dead investors...
00:36 August 14, 2010 by Prufrock2010
No, the lawyers, if the win (which they won't), would only be entitled to a lodestar attorney fee award determined by the court based upon the work performed and the results achieved. Even if successful, the lawyers would not realize 40%. But not to worry. They won't win, and they will absorb the costs of losing.
08:35 August 14, 2010 by Raimund
I lived & worked in St. Petersburg Fla for 38 years, & now living in my native Germany, I have been trying for 11 years to collect my Social Security Disability funds, with no luck at all, like always, America never pays their debts, but expects everyone to pay up to them, but they keep pumping billions into the Afgan Government, which by the way, disappears, I say we do to them, what they do to the rest of the world, jerk them off right up to the end... America needs to remember the golden rule, do unto others, as you would want other to do unto you...
23:12 August 15, 2010 by Bruce in Vancouver
Florida Investors? We all know there is a very high concentration of "parasites" in Florida.

Why doesn't Germany just tell "those people" to go to hell and they're not paying any more to them or anyone else.
16:12 August 18, 2010 by Quatsch
Let them sue for the 80 year old bonds that have or haven't been paid. Forget the statute of limitations, if anyone has money coming due from these bonds let Germany give it to them.

And..... if we're forgetting the statute of limitations Germany should sue to retrieve Prussia, Köenigsberg, western Poland, Warthegau, all that land taken away in 1945, and any losses from the populations that were driven out.

It's only fair.
19:30 August 19, 2010 by ilios
Scratch the surface and guess what or who is skulking beneath this grubby act of litigation? To avoid accusations of anti semetism I will accuse the eskimo for this money grab.

That Germany is viewed as a sacred cash cow by these parasites comes as no surprise given the high level of fraud that has taken place by lawyers seeking reperations for 'victims' of the 39-45 European civil war. It is time to tell these shysters to politely f.... off!
20:16 August 19, 2010 by Paul Mannstein
The members of the tribe that were swindled by Bernie Madoff are out to shake down the German tax payers to make up their losses. If they balk the holocaust card will be played. Been there done that.
20:43 August 19, 2010 by n4wsu
Those brave Germans will pay, no doubt, as they always do. Not for nothing have most of them bad knees from crouching to the dictate of the Holy Land because we have sinned--the only ones ever did!
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