The Berlin Regional Court upheld a preliminary injunction against a German historian that favored the heirs of the German monarchy Thursday, the latest development in nearly a decade of litigation from the Hohenzollern family seeking to recover royal property seized both before and after World War II.
The action was brought by Crown Prince of Prussia Georg Friedrich, the great-great-grandson of German Emperor Wilhelm II, and sought to help shape the narrative of his family’s participation in World War II and to assist in a compensation judgment favorable to the Hohenzollern dynasty. He alleges his family’s lost property includes hundreds of artifacts, works of art, and properties including Rheinfels Castle, currently publicly owned by the German state.
The royal Hohenzollern estate, once solely held by the German Kaiser and his family, was largely broken up following World War I, either through seizures by the new German republic or to losses incurred following Soviet occupation after World War II. The German state passed several pieces of legislation after World War II that provided compensation to victims of Nazi policies. Among these was the 1994 Compensation Act, which allowed for compensation both for WW II-era losses to the Nazis and for Cold War-era property seizures by the East German government.
However, the 1994 Act also states that compensation will not be possible for individuals who provided “a considerable contribution” to the Nazi regime. This has raised questions about the Hohlenzollern’s political affiliations in World War II, as the crown prince Wilhelm famously met with Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, arguably contributing to the Nazis’ appearance of political legitimacy.
Thursday’s ruling allows for the continuation of an injunction against historian Winfried Suess, who said in 2019 that the Hohenzollerns had demanded a say in the historic representation of the family in public institutions. The injunction, which forbids Suess from making this claim again, has been criticized as encouraging the promotion of revisionist histories on the family legacy as the Hohenzollerns continue to justify their rights to their lost property. Negotiations on the final status of the Hohenzollern property are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.