Germany not required to pay land compensation
30 March 2005, STRASBOURG - The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Wednesday that the German government is not required to pay extra compensation to people whose property was seized by the communists in eastern Germany from 1945 to 1949.
30 March 2005
STRASBOURG - The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Wednesday that the German government is not required to pay extra compensation to people whose property was seized by the communists in eastern Germany from 1945 to 1949.
The ruling will come as a big relief to the German government which would have faced multi-billion euro payments if the court had ruled in favour of former landowners.
After the 1990 reunification, the German state refused to return about 3.3 million hectares of land seized after World War Two, in what later became communist East Germany.
At that time chancellor Helmut Kohl argued that non-return had been a condition of the Soviet Union for allowing unification to go ahead. This, however, was later denied by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Former owners are instead being paid a symbolic sum which is less than 5 percent of the current market price of their property.
Meanwhile, the German state has been selling off the land for the past 15 years with the money going to federal coffers.
Former owners had argued that this was unfair given that those whose property was seized in East Germany from 1949 to 1989 have had their real estate returned.
But the court, which is part of the Council of Europe, ruled that Berlin was not obligated to pay the current market price of property seized prior to the Federal Republic of Germany's creation in 1949.
Subject: German news