Press Release Decision No. 665/2010
Styria, Sankt Michael in Upper Styria
On 22 June 2010, the Arbitration Panel for In Rem Restitution rejected a claim for in rem restitution of properties owned by the Republic of Austria in Sankt Michael in Upper Styria. There were no indications that the original owner of the property had been persecuted by the National Socialist regime.
In March 1938, Lorenz M. had been the owner of an agricultural and silvicultural property with an area of around 325 hectares in the municipality of Sankt Michael in Upper Styria. After Lorenz M. had experienced enormous difficulty in keeping up with his payments in the 1930s, in 1938, his property was encumbered with a great number of liens. Several forced auctioning procedures had also been carried out or were pending by 1938.
In 1941, the legal representative of was able to secure the German Armed Forces as a prospective buyer for the property. A stud farm was planned for the property. In March 1942, Lorenz M. finally sold his entire agricultural and silvicultural property to the German Reich, Army Administration, for 276,250 Reichsmark. In addition, he also received a special compensation of 68,750 Reichsmark for the relocation costs and the loss of earnings.
After the Second World War, both Lorenz M. and his heirs initiated restitution proceedings in order to be able to again gain possession of the property which had been sold in 1942. Each of the restitution applications was, however, withdrawn.
With the State Treaty of 1955, the property passed into the ownership of the Republic of Austria.
In his application to the Arbitration Panel, the applicant submitted that his grandfather Lorenz M. had been politically persecuted during the National Socialist era. Among other things, this led to the property being seized.
One of the necessary requirements for in rem restitution is persecution by the National Socialist regime on one of the grounds listed in the Entschädigungsfondsgesetz ("General Settlement Fund Law"). However, evidence was available to the Arbitration Panel from the two restitution proceedings which seemed to indicate that the sale in 1942 had been predominantly financially motivated. The wife of Lorenz M. even expressly denied that the family – hence also her husband – was politically persecuted. Nor did the applicant submit any evidence of the alleged persecution.
As this proof could not be provided by the applicant and there were also no other concrete indications that Lorenz M. was persecuted, the Arbitration Panel already had to reject the application for this reason.
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