Grandson of anti-Hitler plotter seeks restitution

Friedrich zu Solms-Baruth was forced to hand over ownership of 17,300-acres following failed bombing attempt on the Fuhrer.

hitler 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
hitler 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The grandson of a German aristocrat who was part of the failed plot to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944 is going to court Thursday to argue he should be compensated for thousands of acres of family land lost under the Nazis. Friedrich zu Solms-Baruth said his grandfather, who had the same name, was forced to hand over ownership of 17,300-acres (7,000-hectares) near Berlin after being arrested by the Gestapo the day after the failed bombing attempt on Hitler. Central to Solms-Baruth's claim is the timing of his grandfather's surrender of the property: did he lose it when he signed away power-of-attorney in the Gestapo prison or when the area was occupied by the Red Army immediately after the war? The Soviets seized all large estates as they formed the East German state, and if the court rules the land was lost to them, Solms-Baruth's claim will likely fail. German courts since reunification have ruled those former land owners have no rights to those properties. However, if the court rules he signed away the property while in prison, he may have the right to demand further compensation for the land. The land is currently held by the state of Brandenburg, municipalities, and private companies including Total petroleum and Deutsche Telekom. All of those landowners are named as defendants. Solms-Baruth's grandfather was involved in a famous plot to kill Hitler on July, 20 1944 led by Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg. The plan, the subject of an upcoming Hollywood movie starring Tom Cruise, involved Stauffenberg placing a bomb in a conference room where Hitler was meeting with military advisers. Solms-Baruth participated in discussions of the plot and provided two of his mansions as meeting places. The bomb failed to explode and the plotters were rounded up the next day. Stauffenberg and other central figures were hanged, but Solms-Baruth was released after signing away his family's estates. He fled to southern Africa and died shortly after the war. His grandson has said he will appeal the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights if he loses Thursday.