Human rights court rules against German refugees
German government welcomes a conclusion to the postwar land claims that ignited a dispute with Poland.
Berlin -- The European Court of Human Rights rejected a land claim made by ethnic Germans who had lost homes in Poland during World War II, to the delight of the German government.
The private claim by an organization representing 23 Germans caused friction between the two countries since it was first filed in 2004.
German government officials had maintained all along that the claim had no validity but also insisted that it could not forbid the lawsuit.
In the ruling on Thursday, the Strasbourg court said that Poland bore no responsibility for the expulsion of ethnic Germans by Soviet forces after Oct. 19 1944 because it had no governmental control over the land.
During that time period, the territory had still been legally part of Germany and the court refused to hear full arguments of the case, a court spokesman.
The claimants set up an organization, Preussische Treuhand, to pursue the restitution of their real estate.
Polish politicians have accused the refugee group of trying to reverse the outcome of the war in which defeated Germany lost all its territory east of the Oder-Neisse Line.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the ruling saying that it confirmed Berlin's position that there were no outstanding property issues between the two nations from the Second World War.