Nazi Art Looting: Sixth Circuit Cloaks Nazi-Era Atrocities in Sovereign Immunity

Flag of Tennessee The United States won World War II. As part of the postwar cleanup, the US did everything in its power to undo the damage the Nazis had wrought. Nowhere was this damage more atrocious than in what the Nazis inflicted on the Jewish minority. The Jews were a non-violent, law abiding minority. Nazis expropriated and murdered them wholesale. Some escaped. Some watched helplessly from abroad as their relatives were murdered. Such was the fate of the Westfield family. Residents of Tennessee, their relative was murdered, his assets auctioned off, the money went to finance the Nazi war machine. In 1954, the Second Circuit, at the behest of the U.S. State Department, stripped the Nazis of sovereign immunity. On February 2, 2011, the Nazis got sovereign immunity back in Westfield v. Federal Republic of Germany (6th Cir.). I have posted the Westfield case below and the full text of the Second Circuit's Bernstein case. This appears to be a circuit split over whether the Nazis were a criminal conspiracy or whether they were a legitimate government, a question that was resolved against the Nazis at Nuremberg in 1946 in the negative. The Sixth Circuit did not cite Bernstein, nor did it cite Republic of Austria v. Altmann. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Austria_v._Altmann The Sixth Circuit held that murdering Westfield and auctioning off his art collection (part of which is at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts), did not have a "direct effect" in the United States, even though the Nazis knew that his heirs resided in Tennessee. Art museums in the U.S. today are actively concealing their role in laundering artworks stolen by the Nazis and battling all efforts at disclosure of Nazi-era and post War collecting practices. U.S. museums now claim that they have a "fiduciary duty" to conceal documents and research relating to the provenance of stolen artworks in their collections and to force dispossessed Holocaust survivors and their heirs to litigate to track the artworks. The U.S. State Department should intervene in the case and ask the Sixth Circuit to reconsider in light of Bernstein. Tennessee shouldn't be the only state in the U.S. that lost World War II. Westfield v Fed Rep of Germany 6th Circuit Feb 2 2011 210 F.2d 375 BERNSTEIN, v. N. V. NEDERLANDSCHE- AMERIKAANSCHE STOOMVAART- MAATSCHAPPIJ (Chemical Bank& Trust Co., Third-Party Defendant). No. 21193. United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. Submitted Jan. 11, 1954. Decided Feb. 5, 1954. Bennet, House & Couts, New York City, for plaintiff-petitioner; Victor House, Albert I. Edelman and Werner Ilsen, New York City, of counsel. Burlingham, Hupper & Kennedy, New York City, for defendant Holland-America Line; Harold M. Kennedy, and Harvey C. Allen, Jr., New York City, of counsel. Sherman & Sterling & Wright, New York City, for Third-Party Defendant, Chemical Bank & Trust Company; John A. Wilson, M. VanVoorhies and Edmond K. Leach, New York City, of counsel. Petition to amend the mandate of this court handed down in a prior appeal in this case, 173 F.2d 71. Petition granted. Before AUGUSTUS N. HAND, CLARK and FRANK, Circuit Judges. Petition to amend the mandate of this court handed down in a prior appeal in this case, 173 F.2d 71. Petition granted. PER CURIAM. In the prior appeal in this case, 173 F.2d 71, 75-76, because of the lack of a definitive expression of Executive Policy, we felt constrained to follow the decision of this court in Bernstein v. Van Heyghen Freres Societe Anonyme, 2 Cir., 163 F.2d 246, certiorari denied 332 U.S. 772, 68 S.Ct. 88, 92 L.Ed. 357, by ordering the plaintiff to refrain from alleging matters which would cause the court to pass on the validity of acts of officials of the German government. Following our decision, however, the State Department issued Press Release No. 296 on April 27, 1949, entitled: 'Jurisdiction of United States Courts Re Suits for Identifiable Property Involved in Nazi Forced Transfers.' The substance of this Release follows: 2 'As a matter of general interest, the Department publishes herewith a copy of a letter of April 13, 1949 from Jack B. Tate, Acting Legal Advisor, Department of State, to the Attorneys for the plaintiff in Civil Action No. 31-555 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. 3 'The letter repeats this Government's opposition to forcible acts of dispossession of a discriminatory and confiscatory nature practiced by the Germans on the countries or peoples subject to their controls; states that it is this Government's policy to undo the forced transfers and restitute identifiable property to the victims of Nazi persecution wrongfully deprived of such property; and sets forth that the policy of the Executive, with respect to claims asserted in the United States for restitution of such property, is to relieve American courts from any restraint upon the exercise of their jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of the acts of Nazi officials.' 4 The letter from Mr. Tate is then quoted, pertinent parts of which follow: 5 '1. This Government has consistently opposed the forcible acts of dispossession of a discriminatory and confiscatory nature practiced by the Germans on the countries or people subject to their controls. * * * 6 '3. The policy of the Executive, with respect to claims asserted in the United States for the restitution of identifiable property (or compensation in lieu thereof) lost through force, coercion, or duress as a result of Nazi persecution in German, is to relieve American courts from any restraint upon the exercise of their jurisdiction to pass upon the validity of the acts of Nazi officials.' 7 In view of this supervening expression of Executive Policy, we amend our mandate in this case by striking out all restraints based on the inability of the court to pass on acts of officials in Germany during the period in question. See 173 F.2d at pages 75-76. This will permit the district court to accept the Release in evidence and conduct the trial of this case without regard to the restraint we previously placed upon it. . Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2010 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here // Copyright Litigation Handbook (West 5th Ed. 2010) by Raymond J. Dowd Purchase on Amazon.com and Westlaw (Directory: COPYLITIG)

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