Jewish heir slams retail giant over court battle
28 October 2005, BERLIN - Barbara Principe, who this week won the final skirmish of a long legal battle with KarstadtQuelle over a Nazi seizure of Jewish property, broke her silence Friday, saying she could not forgive the German retail giant.
28 October 2005
BERLIN - Barbara Principe, who this week won the final skirmish of a long legal battle with KarstadtQuelle over a Nazi seizure of Jewish property, broke her silence Friday, saying she could not forgive the German retail giant.
Principe, 72, who lives in New Jersey, led the fight for compensation after a weed-infested plot of land, which was formerly the site of a Jewish-owned department store, skyrocketed in value.
On Tuesday it was disclosed that KarstadtQuelle, which had tried to keep the capital gains for itself, had been denied leave to appeal against a damages award in favour of Principe and about 50 other heirs.
"I regard Karstadt's behaviour as very negative and I've no reason to forgive them," said Principe in a telephone interview. But she said she had "no hard feelings" towards Berlin or other Germans.
In the case, pursued by the Jewish Claims Conference (JCC) on behalf of the family, department-store and mail-order giant KarstadtQuelle was roasted over the unfair buyout of the Wertheim family's shareholding after the Second World War.
Principe, who led heirs scattered in the United States, the Netherlands and Britain, said KarstadtQuelle had not behaved "honourably".
On the other hand, the family had great confidence in the fairness of the German courts on the issue.
Principe recalled how she had visited Berlin for the main hearing of the case last year, and many people had recognized her on the streets, accosted her and encouraged her to keep up the fight.
The German-Jewish Wertheim family owned department stores and other properties in central Berlin until the rise of Adolf Hitler's Nazis. They lost most of their assets when they fled Germany.
Some estimates have put the current value of all the downtown Berlin land at 500 million euros (600 million dollars).
Last month the German federal government agreed to pay the Wertheim heirs 17.3 million euros for land seized by the Nazis on which a federal parliamentary building was later built.
Subject: German news