Polish court returns Gdansk house to Germans

6th January 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Gdansk court, which upheld a ruling from a previous hearing, said the German owners had never given up the house and it should be given back to them.

Warsaw -- A Polish appeal court last week returned a house in the northern port of Gdansk to the German heirs of the former owner, three decades after the family lost it, the PAPA news agency reported.

The Gdansk court, which upheld a ruling from a previous hearing, said the German owners had never given up the house and it should be given back to them.

It further ordered the heirs to pay 82,000 zlotys (19,900 euros, 28,500 dollars) to Gdansk local authorities to compensate them for bills they had paid for the upkeep of the house.

The authorities owned the building until Wednesday's ruling.

Currently occupied by five families, the house belonged to a German, August Lindhoff before World War II.

Despite the decision at the end of the war to hand Gdansk to Poland -- it was part of the Nazi Third Reich during the conflict -- a court decided to hand the house to Lindhoff in 1946.

On his death in 1963, the building passed to his heirs living in Germany.

But they could not afford to maintain the house and it passed in 1977 to the Polish state, according to Polish authorities. In 1991 authorities in Gdansk took it over.

A few years ago, five of Lindhoff's heirs went to court in the city in a bid to get the property back. They won their case in 2007 but city authorities appealed.

The appeal court's ruling is final.

Between World War I and World War II, Gdansk was the "Free City of Danzig" (its German name), under the auspices of the League of Nations, the forerunner of the UN.

The victorious Allies gave the city the special status as they were reluctant to award it to the reborn state of Poland, given most of its residents were German, but also did not wish to leave it in Germany's hands.

AFP/Expatica

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