In 1989-1990 with the fall the Berlin Wall, the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) was extinguished, and the two Germanys were reunified. Under the treaties establishing German reunification, the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 and 1992 enacted the Law for the Settlement of Property Claims (Vermogensgesetz) and in 1994 enacted the Compensation for Persons Subjected to Nazi Persecution Act (NS-Verfolgtensentschädigungsgesezt). The deadline for filing restitution claims was December 31, 1992. Claims filed after that deadline are almost universally rejected. Thousands of claimants, however, filed timely claims and recovered a significant number of assets or substantial amounts of compensation in lieu of restitution.
Despite the very short statutory deadline to file claims, the Restitution Laws ensured that properties which had been unlawfully confiscated by the Nazi or Communist regimes from their rightful owners in the territory of the former German Democratic Republic could be restituted or subject to monetary compensation. Unfortunately, the legal process has, in practice, often proven to be slow, difficult and rife with unexpected challenges. In the United States, Osen LLC is one of the leading law firms representing individuals and corporations with respect to properties and business assets confiscated by the Nazi regime or the former GDR.
Many of these cases require hard-nosed litigation in German courts, and skilled use of researchers, investigators and historical experts. The Firm has worked extensively with leading German law firms to collaboratively resolve many complex cases involving both property and business claims. The Firm’s victory on behalf of the Wertheim family was hailed as one of the largest, most notable restitution settlements of the last 20 years on behalf of Holocaust victims and their heirs. The Firm, again working with counsel in Germany, has successfully argued cases in the German High Court and has favorably resolved numerous complex cases that were previously regarded as hopeless.