Hohenzollern boss: claims for compensation withdrawn
By not filing lawsuits, Hohenzollern boss Georg Friedrich Prince of Prussia will probably save himself and the public sector years of lawsuits. But now it has to be negotiated.
According to Hohenzollern boss Georg Friedrich Prince of Prussia, he has withdrawn two lawsuits against the public sector for compensation in the millions. The 46-year-old confirmed this in Berlin. There was no further confirmation from the competent administrative court in Potsdam. “But you can assume that I also stand by it,” said von Prussia on the sidelines of a historian’s discussion about his family’s role in National Socialism.
The federal government and the states of Brandenburg and Berlin have been negotiating with the Hohenzollerns since 2014 about the return of numerous art objects and compensation. According to the law, anyone who “provided significant support” to the Nazi system does not receive compensation. In this question the role of the great-grandfather Wilhelm Crown Prince of Prussia (1882-1951) is decisive.
It’s about the role of the great-grandfather
The talks are on hold after Brandenburg resumed a process that had been running since 2015 about expropriated properties such as Rheinsberg Castle, Bornstedt Crown Estate and several villas in Potsdam. Brandenburg had rejected compensation on the basis of the unification treaty. The Hohenzollerns had sued against this. It’s about 1.2 million euros.
The second lawsuit concerns, among other things, inventory from the Rheinsberg and Cecilienhof palaces in Potsdam. In this case, too, the country had refused compensation for the same reasons.
Von Prussia sees his great-grandfather’s sympathies for the National Socialists at times, but nothing more. “Even though I’m neither a historian nor a lawyer myself, I don’t think it can be proven that my great-grandfather gave the regime any significant support, even if he might have wanted to,” he said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that Crown Prince Wilhelm had at times sympathized with the National Socialists.” With a view to the family history, he said: “Anyone who panders to right-wing extremism cannot create tradition for the house.”
Von Prussia referred to unclear ownership of works of art and objects that should be finally settled. “The actions of my great-grandfather, who died in 1951, are relevant for the assignment of 4,000 of these more than 10,000 objects,” he said. He decided not to return those 4,000 works of art and the associated compensation. “I would like to pave the way for an unencumbered debate in historical scholarship on the role of my family in the 20th century.” He had previously expressed himself similarly in the “world”.
It remains his goal to permanently preserve the art and cultural heritage for the public. “I am therefore confident that in the next few years we will be able to find solutions for the other works of art whose legal attribution does not depend on the historical role of my great-grandfather.” On the part of the federal government and Brandenburg, the announced waiver of the lawsuits had already been seen as a positive sign for talks.
Organized historians’ debate
Von Prussia described the historians’ debate he organized as a contribution “to coming to terms with our checkered family history in the 20th century”. The historian Lothar Machtan renewed his assessment. “The former crown prince was politically incapable of giving significant encouragement to National Socialism, even though he occasionally wanted to,” said the professor at the University of Bremen. “He lacked the real possibility of exerting any significant influence on political opinion-forming processes.”
The historian Peter Brandt, whose report formed the basis for Brandenburg’s position, “continued” to ascribe a role to the crown prince in having given the Nazi system a considerable boost. A similar position is held by numerous other historians.