Czech Property and European Human Rights Legislation

Claims to regain ownership of confiscated Czech Real Estate fall into two main categories:

1. Inheritance

2. Restitution

The main difference between these is based on information derived from the Czech Land registries – whose name is registered there?

If your family is still listed as owners of a property in the Czech Republic, and you can show adequately that you have a Right to inherit the property, then you may claim it and have it restored to you.

On the other hand, if the same property was confiscated – some will call it stolen – by earlier Totalitarian Czech Regimes – notably the Nazi Regime in 1939 – 1945 and the Communist Regime after World War 2 – then this becomes a matter of Restitution, and you can only claim the property back if you are a Czech national, and live in the Czech republic.

It is considered that this Czech Restitution Law is totally in conflict with the Human Rights Legislation of the European Union.

This cause has been taken up by BARONESS SARAH LUDFORD MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT who has written a letter to Guenther Verheugen the European Commissioner for Enlargement on 9 April 2001on this subject

Guenther Verheugen responded on 14 May 2001 – completely missing the point.
Is it a politician side-stepping the issue – or did he really misunderstand?

We are not talking about “a system of property ownership” in the Czech Republic, nor are we talking about “provisions governing purchase of real estate” in that country!

We are talking about a country which denies the fundamental human rights of all people to be treated as equals, irrespective of their Nationality.

BARONESS LUDFORD has also released a Press Release in this connection on April 10th 2001.

A letter was also sent by Baroness Ludford on 11 May 2001 to to Mr Milos ZEMAN, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, asking him what actions he “plans to take to change this unjust condition to the restitution law”. A response (translated to English) was eventually received from Mr Milos Zeman, dated 19 July 2001 which is shown here in its original Czech.(Zeman 190701 page 1) and (Zeman 190701 page 2) The Prime Minister maintains that both the Czech is, in our opinion “full of holes”:
1. He maintains that individuals who regain Czech Nationality can then get restitution. We quote the case of Mary Wachtel-Mauksch who attempted this, only to be told that on the date the application for restitution was made the individual was NOT a Czech citizen, and subsequent regaining of this is not acceptable.
2. He maintains that both the Czech Constitutional Court, and the European Court of Human Rights have condoned the discrimination built into the Czech Law
3. He points out to the “Foundation Fund for the Victims of Holocaust” – which we discuss in the Outline to Czech Claims

There have been other mentions of the iniquity of Czech Legislation. One article (in German) by Stephan Templ was published by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 26 Mar 2001 You can read a translation here

on April 24th the JTA came out with a report from their correspondent in Prague.

on 27th April 2001 We issued a press release under the heading “Czech Republic’s denial of holocaust claims may place European Union entry into jeopardy”.

Other Articles have appeared in the USA, Israel and Brazil. The Press in the Czech Republic has also picked up this subject. One example is the Prague Post (www.praguepost.cz)

These articles show how false the claim by the Czech Government is that they have instituted laws which enable people wronged to obtain restitution.

We have a classic example of the Czech behaviour where Restitution is concerned. It shows clearly what sham their Restitution Laws are. It is only one of very many.

Mary Wachtel-Mauksch was refused restitution on the grounds of Nationality. She then went through all the hoops of obtaining her Czech Nationality back (she had “lost” it by marrying an American). A second opinion of a specialist lawyer was sought – and the decision was confirmed.
Once her Nationality was reinstated as a Czech she re-applied for the restitution of property which had been stolen from her family in 1940 by the Nazi authorities in Czechoslovakia – and the verdict was that because she was NOT a Czech WHEN she first applied, subsequent reinstatement of her Nationality did not help her – case refused!

The only recourse now open to rejected claimants appears to be to take legal action before the European Court of Human Rights.

The European Court will only hear cases which have been taken through every stage of all available appeal proceedings in the country where Human Rights have been violated.

The question arises: does the court really expect people to appeal in Prague a decision taken based on a clear cut statement within the Law itself? This would be not only a costly, but also futile action in the Czech Republic. No Czech Judge can overrule an administrative decision which was taken correctly in accordance with the Law. There is no basis for an appeal!

So – all those who have been wronged on the question of property restitution – have a typical Catch-22 situation which Kafka would have loved! There is currently no appeal possible in Prague, and Strasburg will not hear it unless appealed to the full!

It is hoped that the Czech Government will see the iniquity of the situation, and that the European Union will live up to its professed Human Rights attitude, and not accept the membership of Prague until this matter has been righted.

The May 1991 law of the Czech Republic – Act No 172/1991 – denied property restitution and property ownership to all non-Czech citizens. It is in effect a THIRD, and no different, theft of these same properties from their owners.
In 1938, the Nazi regime stole the property from all “unfit” Jewish residents.
In 1948 the Communist government again stole all business properties from their rightful owners because they were deemed unfit to own it.
Today, all non-Czechs are deemed unfit to own their property.
Thus, during the past sixty years, three different Czech governments each denied legal owners their own property.
Despite its fine words about righting the wrong which has been done, the actions of the current Czech Republic are NO different of that of the “despised” former governments! The current Czech Republic government is simply continuing the property thefts of the Nazis and Communist governments in the name of national unity.

We are assembling a list of people who have been wronged by this Czech Law, and hope eventually to be able to bring a “Class Action”, so that the burden can fall on a collective shoulder, and the voice be that much stronger.

Compensation or restitution claims are often complex matters which should be dealt with by qualified lawyers who must thoroughly examine the legal history of the property concerned, identify what claim can be asserted, if any, what are the relevant procedures and respective authorities etc..
If you care to make contact with us, we will gladly refer you to specialist Attorneys who have experience in making such claims in the Czech Republic.

You will find our contact details at the top of this page.