Prince’s Estate Contested by Surviving Relative

A WWII-era prince’s estate is being contested by family members, decades after the aristocrat in question tried to assist in a failed plan to kill Adolf Hitler. The man in question was Prince Friedrich zuSolms-Baruth, who lose his property when he was arrested by the Nazi police. As a result of the arrest, the Gestapo took control over the prince’s estate, and it was lost to his future relatives. Now, they want it back.

Prince Friedrich zuSolms-Baruth III, grandson of the prince who was implicated in the assassination attempt on the Fuhrer, took his case to German officials. His belief is that if they do not relinquish the property to its rightful heirs, they are essentially upholding Nazi actions of a criminal nature. The prince’s estate has been in government possession for nearly seventy years now, and the matter is starting to attract international attention. Britain is on the grandson’s side, and has even pledged to help him fight the issue internationally if Germany does not rule in his favor. They will do so through the European Court of Human Rights, which is something of an appeals court for the European Union.

The original Prince Friedrich was part of Operation Valkyrie, which is possibly the most famous failed assassination plot against Adolf Hitler. After the conspirators were discovered, the prince’s estate was taken by Heinrich Himmler, leader of the Gestapo. While they technically had a document signed by Friedrich himself, Friedrich’s grandson claims this document was the result of torture and imprisonment rather than by any form of true consent. Even so, modern courts accept it as evidence that he willingly gave up the rights to his property, The Telegraph reports.

During Operation Valkyrie, Friedrich provided a meeting place for the others involved. This means that his grandson has a number of reasons to contest the current ownership, as the prince’s estate has real historic value in addition to family sentiment. Above all, however, Prince Friedrich III feels that he is simply fighting for what is just. His grandfather only handed over the property to save his own life and the lives of his family. His grandson feels that, now that there is no threat, ownership should be reverted.

So far, the German constitutional court has not given Friedrich III a lot of leeway on the issue of the prince’s estate. Since he now has the United Kingdom promising to back him in the event that the case should move to the Court of Human Rights, he may eventually get what he is after. That said, if getting back the prince’s estate means going through two different court systems, it may be a very long process.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE