Sun, Jan. 29, 2006

No Assumption of GDR Liability

.   The Federal Republic of Germany did not assume all liabilities of the now-extinct German Democratic Republic, aka East Germany, GDR, Mitteldeutschland, DDR, Sowjetische Besatzungszone and Ostdeutschland, the supreme court in Karlsruhe, Bundesgerichtshof, decided on November 30, 2005 in the matter IV ZR 4/04.

The Lichtenrader Notizen blog presents excerpts from the decision which clarifies that West Germany is not a universal successor to East Germany. The Federal Republic is responsible, however, for those liabilities which it assumed by way of the unification treaty, the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany signed in Moscow on September 12, 1990. Specifically, assumed liabilities are those that relate to assets transferred to the unified nation by the terms of the treaty.

The appeal to the supreme court followed a decision, 13 U 141/03, by the Brandenburg court of appeals, Brandenburgisches Oberlandesgericht, dated December 17, 2003, in a matter involving a certificate of inheritance, Erbschein, issued to the East German government and declared void after reunification. The decision takes into consideration the decision of March 2, 2005 of the European Court of Human Rights, Europäischer Gerichtshof für Menschenrechte, in the matter of von Maltzan et al. v. Germany, docket number 71916-17/01, and concludes that the unified Germany is not liable to an heir for the funds which East Germany grabbed on the basis of the later-voided certificate of inheritance.

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