The Prussian Trust, or Prussian Claims Society, (German: Preußische Treuhand GmbH & Co. KGaA) is a corporation registered in Düsseldorf, founded in 2000 as Preußische Treuhand GmbH by some descendants of German expellees, and supported by some officials of the Landsmannschaft Schlesien organization. It seeks to claim compensation from Poland and the Czech Republic, among others, for property confiscated from Germans expelled from territories which after World War II became parts of Poland and Czechoslovakia.
The chairman of the supervisory board is Rudi Pawelka, who also is president of the Landsmannschaft Schlesien, and vice president is Hans Günther Parplies, also vice president of the Federation of Expellees. The Trust probably has fewer than a hundred members.
Compensation claims against Poland
Rudi Pawelka told the Daily Telegraph on 15 February 2004 that:
Germans held lands and properties in what is now Poland for hundreds of years. They have a deep, inner connection to the region and many want their properties back. Soon we will all be Europeans. Poland's accession to the EU will enable us to take our case to the Strasbourg court for the first time. Poland must not be allowed to discriminate against Germans.
The former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder stated on 1 August 2004 that the German government will not support these claims. Also, the Polish Sejm declared that Poland will demand war reparations from Germany if the German government does not end the press for compensations. Some German politicians stated that the claims by the Sejm were ridiculous and had no legal basis. The corporation's activities have been repudiated by some German politicians who have addressed the issue, including the president of the Federation of Expellees, Erika Steinbach.
The Polish government decided that the submissions warranted a comment by Anna Fotyga, the Polish Minister of the Foreign Affairs who "express [her] deepest concern upon receiving the information about a claim against Poland submitted by the Prussian Trust to the European Court of Human Rights".
Contributory factors to the special quality of relations between Germany and Poland include the former’s unconditional admission of guilt for the Second World War and its renouncement of subsequent material claims after the war. The Federal Government supports neither private restitution claims by expellees nor complaints like that submitted by the private Prussian Trust to the European Court of Human Rights. Federal Chancellor Merkel has repeatedly reaffirmed this position. (The German Federal Foreign Office, October 2008).[a]
On 9 October 2008 the European Court of Human Rights declared the case of Preussische Treuhand v. Poland inadmissible, because
The Court would recall that Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 cannot be interpreted as imposing any general obligation on the Contracting States to return property which was transferred to them before they ratified the Convention. Nor does this provision impose any restrictions on the Contracting States’ freedom to determine the scope of property restitution or rehabilitation laws. The States are free to choose the conditions under which they agree to restore property rights of former owners and the Convention imposes no specific obligation on them to provide redress for wrongs or damage caused prior to their ratification of the Convention ...
- Former eastern territories of Germany
- Federation of Expellees
- Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–1950)
- Expulsion of Germans after World War II
- Similar text was on the page in January 2007 (first time it was checked). When the page was updated in March 2008 the text (slightly modified from the initial text) remained on the page. It had been altered by 17 April 2009 (after the European Court of Human Rights case was finished to include a mention of the court's verdict).
- English language homepage of the Die Preußische Treuhand GmbH & Co. KG a. A.
- Fotyga, Anna (21 December 2006), Statement of the Minister of the Foreign Affairs, archived from the original on 27 September 2011 — Polish Minister of the Foreign Affairs (2006–2007)
- German Federal Foreign Office (April 2007), Cultural relations: Poland, archived from the original on 10 August 2007
- Bratza, Nicolas (7 October 2008), Decision as to the admissibility Application no. 47550/06 by Preussische Treuhand GMBH & CO. KG A. A. against Poland, European Court of Human Rights
- Ziemer, Klaus (2005), "What Past, What Future?" (PDF), Social Science in Eastern Europe: News letter: Special Issue German-Polish Year 2005/2006, Social Science Information Centre (4): 4–11, ISSN 1615-5459, archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2008
In the news
- Paterson, Tony (15 February 2004), "Germans claim 'Third Reich' Polish property", Daily Telegraph
- Aris, Ben (in Berlin and AP in Warsaw) (2 August 2004), "Schröder apologises to Poles for 'immeasurable' wartime suffering", The Guardian
- Staff writer (18 December 2006), "Poles Angered by German WWII Compensation Claims", Spiegel Online, retrieved December 2006 Check date values in:
- Puhl, Jan; Wassermann, Andreas (1 January 2007), "Suit Evokes Ghosts of War", Der SpiegelOnline
- Clare Murphy. WWII expulsions spectre lives on BBC News online 2 August 2004
- Stefan Theil Germany: Road to Better Days, Newsweek, August, 2004 (backup site)
- DW staff. German Post-War Refugees to Claim Polish Assets, Deutsche Welle, 3 August 2004.
- Penny Campbell Worldwatch:Pay Up Time Magazine, 12 September 2004.
- DW staff. Warsaw-Berlin Tensions Rise Over Expellee Claims, Deutsche Welle, 6 September 2004.
- Staff. Germans and Poles settle WWII row BBC News 27 September 2004
- DW staff. Polish Leaders Criticize Latest German Compensation Claims Deutsche Welle 16 December 2006
- Associated Press article. Polish prime minister urges parliament to affirm Poles' rights to property left by expelled Germans in the International Herald Tribune, 19 December 2006
- Associated Press article. Polish foreign minister denies Warsaw wants to renegotiate 1990 border treaty with Germany, International Herald Tribune 20 December 2006
- Mark Landler. Lawsuit Reopens Old Wounds in German-Polish Dispute New York Times 25 December 2006 (backup site)
- Staff. Claims of Ownership - How the Organisation "Prussian Trust" is Complicating Relations with Poland Deutsche Welle 27 December 2006
- W.Ż. Claims, Complaints & Controversy. Warsaw Voice, 3 January 2007
- Jan Puhl and Andreas Wassermann. Suit Evokes Ghosts of War Spiegel Online 2 January 2007
- Tom Hundley. German claims from WW II rankle Poland's twin leaders, Chicago Tribune, 25 January 2007
- Staff. EU partners Poland, German ministers tackle WWII-era claims DPA German Press Agency 31 January 2007 — From rawstory.com not a DPA website (a backup site)
- Staff. Spiegel interview with former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski Spiegel Online 15 February 2007. paragraphs 24-27.