The Shoah was not only the largest planned mass murder in human history, it was also one of the biggest raids of all. Two out of three survivors have never received any compensation. Nevertheless Germany's reparations payments are considered exemplary.
Despite all agreements, commitments, and promises, only about one-third of the survivors ever received compensation and only a tiny part of the Jewish wealth losses was compensated.
While Germany speaks of "around one million" recipients of compensation, with a total of 1.5 million applicants, however, it turns out that these statements are exaggerated. Most pensioners also received one-off compensation, showing that in the end not much more than 650,000 survivors were compensated. The Federal Republic of Germany paid the equivalent of 58.3 billion euros in individual compensation payments. 20 percent of the total was paid within Germany (most likely to non-Jewish Nazi persecutees), 40 percent in Israel, and 40 percent in other countries.
In 2007 Sidney Zabludoff noted that the total value of Jewish property that was neither returned nor reimbursed at least amounts between 115 to 175 billion U.S. dollars. The historical record of the total amount of material damage that Germany inflicted on the Jewish People and the amount of compensation paid or still to be paid is far from being balanced.
By the end of 2007, a total of € 65.1 billion had been paid for the "reparation" of Nazi crimes - by the way, not only to Jewish victims. The Federal Ministry of Finance estimates that in the year 2030, when the last survivor will die, there will still be about 9.5 billion euros to pay, so that the total amount of all compensation payments will reach around 74 billion euros. This means that the German state will only refund less than a quarter of the direct material damage.
The Romani peoples, also known as Gypsies, an ethnic group originating from the Indian subcontinent shared a similar fate to the Jews during the Nazi area. The number of victims is still unknown. Historians estimate that between 220,000 and 500,000 were murdered, while Romani activist Professor Ian Hancock talks about 1.5 million Romani people who were killed by the Germans and their collaborators. He calls it a downplaying of the Porajmos (=Romani Holocaust) and a trend to minimize the genocide.
After 1950 West Germany argued that "Gypsies were persecuted under the Nazis not for any racial reason but because of an asocial and criminal record". In 1956 the supreme court denied even the racial persecution for the period before the Auschwitz Decree in 1942. That was a mockery of the victims. Only in 1982 – almost four decades after the end of the Nazi terror - West Germany recognized the genocide against the Sinti and Roma (=Romani peoples). The genocide of the European Roma, including the members living in Germany, was largely uncompensated. An estimate of value of their property stolen by Nazi-Germany is until today non-existent.
Human hair for example was used for industrial purposes and Nazi Germany made a fortune with it. They weren't concerned with dehumanizing or humiliating their victims.
The tons of human hair that was shaved from the heads of the victims before they were gassed was used in various ways. The hair collected in the camps was to be pressed into felt for boot-liners for troops and railway personnel in cold weather, and spun into yarn for use in warm socks for crewmen of U-boats or used for seat cushions and upholstery.
The German government said "sorry“ for Nazi war atrocities because it doesn´t cost money to say but Germany routinely rejects demands for reparations, be they from Poland or Greece.
Recently the German Federal Administrative Court denied new evidence in the largest open restitution case in Germany. Frederick Solms-Baruth continues to fight for the return of historic family land and property which his grandfather, Prince Friedrich zu Solms-Baruth, was forced to sign over to Heinrich Himmler following nine months of torture and imprisonment.
His grandfather, Prince Friedrich, belonged to the plotters who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20th, 1944 inside his Wolf´s Lair. Over the following days and weeks, Himmler's Gestapo, driven by a furious Hitler, rounded up everyone who had connection with the plot. The first trials were held on 7th August 1944. Hitler had ordered that the plotters should be "hanged like cattle". Many of the plotters took their own lives prior to either their trial or their execution. Family members, even small children were taken into “Sippenhaft”, a German term for the idea that a family shares the responsibility for a crime committed by one of its members, justifying collective punishment. And of course the property was seized by the German state.
Himmler wanted to save himself and to negotiate a ceasefire with the British and Americans, in the worst case even a surrender while to continue the war in the Eastern front against the Soviet Union. For this reason he needed neutral Sweden, more particularly its Royal Family, the Bernadottes, in order to initiate negotiations and Prince Friedrich was the uncle of the heir to the Swedish throne. That´s one reason why Prince Friedrich zu Solms-Baruth stayed alive. The other reason he stayed alive was because if he had been hanged, his property would have automatically been officially confiscated by change of ownership in the deeds book and Himmler would have lost control of it to the other competing Nazi organizations. The only way he could win the competitive race for these properties was by taking control of them in the typical veiled manner. The Gestapo seized property of enemies of the state, which only they could do since they stood outside the law. Himmler urgently wanted to make his Gestapo and SS economically independent from the rest of the Nazi apparatus and he needed the large raw resources in the form of the vast Solms-Baruth timber enterprise for this purpose. A hitherto unknown decree by Himmler discovered by the Solms-Baruth Legal Team presents a blueprint for exactly how this was carried out.
After months of imprisonment and torture in the Gestapo prison at Prinz-Albrecht Strasse in Berlin Prince Friedrich signed over the power of disposal of his lands and property to Heinrich Himmler – including his Brandenburg and Silesian estates.
After the German reunification in October 1990 the heirs of Prince Friedrich zu Solms-Baruth commenced legal action to regain the Brandenburg assets. Since then the German courts have been unreceptive to facts presented to them.
For example, in 2014 the courts rejected the expert testimony of Sir Anthony Beevor and British Intelligence, whilst the courts failed to call upon the German government to provide their own expert testimony.
This year the grandson Prince Frederick zu Solms-Baruth presented new evidence.
In 2017 the government representative went on the court record stating there were no additional documents in the archives, but only a few months later the crucial file of the "Supreme Finance Director, Berlin, Brandenburg" was found by Prince Frederick´s lawyer in the government´s own "Restitution Archive" which led to the revelation of Prince Friedrich´s persecution via the "Supreme Finance Director", that the Finance Department already registered the property as state property, the economic race between Himmler´s SS enterprise and the other Nazi organizations and, finally, to incontrovertible evidence by means of an ink analysis test of the destruction instructions of the deeds book entries regarding all of Prince Friedrich´s properties by the Nazis to cover up what even they themselves viewed as a crime.
The crucial, case-turning evidence was a chemical ink analysis of the surviving deeds books dating the instruction to destroy all entries pertaining to the properties of Prince Friedrich to have been carried out by the Nazis within the German government-specified date range for eligibility for restitution.
Previously, corroborating evidence was found in the form of the mentioned “Himmler-Decree” which was “misfiled” by the German Government, outlining step-by-step the process that Himmler dictated to the SS to conceal the theft of assets from “Enemies of the State.” Up to this point the court lamented missing the information passed to the deeds office in order to recognise that this Himmler-Decree was actually applied. However, this evidence too was simply disregarded by the court.
The Federal Administrative Court rejected the case along with all new evidence which it claimed it need not consider and ruled that Frederick Solms-Baruth received a “fair hearing” – that the court took into account the full facts and historical evidence.
“My conclusion can only be that the German judicial system – at least below the Constitutional level - is not independent of political motivations, and we have been the victim of gross and malign obfuscation. In so doing, the typical SS method of veiling their crimes in a veneer of legality is being supported by the current judicial system. This is identical to if one were to accept forced transfers of Jewish property as legal. I find it appalling and extremely troubling that the modern German government should get away scot-free with withholding crucial case-turning evidence - which it did so by its own admission - not only from me for 30 years but from the courts. It would seem we are dealing here with no less than the cover-up of the original Nazi cover-up. At the very least, the court should have demanded that the Government disprove the newly discovered evidence, after it was withheld for so long. It should be in everyone´s interest to recognize the truth and not waste further court time. This is an absolute disgrace. I am confident that the wise judges of the Constitutional Court will rectify this travesty of justice at the ultimate hour. After all, we still live under the rule of law”, says Frederick zu Solms-Baruth.
Solms-Baruth and his legal team have now filed with the German Constitutional Court. should this fail as well, Lord Goldsmith, former Attorney-General of England and Wales, will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.