German retailer compensates Jewish heirs

30th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

30 March 2007, Berlin (dpa) - The Jewish Claims Conference (JCC) said Friday it had settled a seven-year dispute with a German retail company over prime Berlin real estate which the Nazis forced a Jewish family to sell. KarstadtQuelle, a department store, mail-order and travel chain, is to pay 88 million euros ($117 million) in compensation to the heirs of the Wertheim family, which owned one of Berlin's grandest stores and had to flee abroad after the Nazi takeover. KarstadtQuelle, which had previously to

30 March 2007

Berlin (dpa) - The Jewish Claims Conference (JCC) said Friday it had settled a seven-year dispute with a German retail company over prime Berlin real estate which the Nazis forced a Jewish family to sell.

KarstadtQuelle, a department store, mail-order and travel chain, is to pay 88 million euros ($117 million) in compensation to the heirs of the Wertheim family, which owned one of Berlin's grandest stores and had to flee abroad after the Nazi takeover.

KarstadtQuelle, which had previously told financial analysts it had set aside funds for a possible settlement, said Friday that the out-of-court settlement would not affect its current-year results.

The sites of the Wertheim stores were weed-infested bomb sites under the Berlin Wall until 1990. KarstadtQuelle, as owner of the Wertheim name, then recovered the land and sold it to developers. More than 50 Wertheim descendants sought a share in the windfall.

The JCC, which had power of attorney to pursue the claims, had earlier won a string of court victories against KarstadtQuelle. Judges slammed the stockmarket-listed company for mean-mindedness.

Sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa the settlement was reached in months of secret meetings between KarstadtQuelle chief executive Thomas Middelhoff and the JCC's European director, Roman Haller.

The key site in dispute is one that fronts on one of contemporary Berlin's grandest squares, Potsdamer Platz. After the Berlin Wall was torn down, the city sold the site to KarstadtQuelle for a one token price of one Deutschmark.

It was then sold to billionaire property developer and retailer Otto Beisheim for 145 million euros. Ritz-Carlton and Marriott hotels and the Beisheim office and shopping centre now occupy the site.

Judges said the city of Berlin should have turned over the land to the Wertheim heirs, not to KarstadtQuelle.

DPA

Subject: German news

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