The Prince of Prussia’s Inheritance Claim

October 1, 2020 Noah Weisberg General Interest, In the News Tags: , , , , , 0 Comments

As readers of my blogs likely know by now, I love learning about restitution.  I was thus quite intrigued to read this recent CNN article regarding a claim by the Prince of Prussia.

Georg Friedrich (also known by his legal surname, the Prince of Prussia) (and also apparently 202nd in line to the British throne), has quite the lineage.  His ancestors include Brandenburg electors from 1415, Prussian kings from 1701, German emperors, and importantly, Germany’s last Kaiser, Wilhelm II (also known as Crown Prince Wilhelm).

The Prince has inherited the awe-inspiring Hohenzollern Castle (please take a look at it) located in southern Germany.  But that is not all.  Based on a promise made to his grandfather, the Prince has continued to pursue a dispute against the German authorities to reclaim part of his family’s fortune that was confiscated after the fall of the Nazis.  Apparently, in addition to the promise, the grandfather’s will states that he explicitly expects the Prince to follow his footsteps in pursuing this claim.

Since German law disqualifies those who ‘substantially supported’ the Nazis from any form of restitution or compensation for lost property, the key to the Prince’s argument will be to prove that his ancestors did not help the Nazis.  In addition to other forms of evidence, both the German government and the Prince have commissioned historians to examine Crown Prince Wilhelm’s relationship with the Nazi party.  This includes reviewing historical photos and statements made by the Crown Prince.

What makes the legal issue even more fascinating is that while the law excludes corporations, such as Volkswagen and BMW from making these claims, it is unclear if former royals are excluded as well.  Nevertheless, it appears that some royals have secured restitution – Michael, Prince of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, dropped his 2003 restitution claim for artworks, manuscripts and the inventory of the Wartburg Castle near Eisenach, in return for €15.5 million.

Those interested in restitution, as well as old-world monarchy, castles, and beautiful works of art, should follow this story.

Noah Weisberg

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