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Germany

Prince's Claim on Nazi-Seized Property Is Denied

A German court has rejected a compensation claim for thousands of acres of family land by the grandson of a German aristocrat who took part in a 1944 plot to kill Adolf Hitler.

Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg

Von Stauffenberg was killed for his role in the attempt

Friedrich zu Solms-Baruth said his grandfather, who had the same name, was forced to hand over ownership of 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) near Berlin after being arrested by the Gestapo the day after the failed bombing attempt on Hitler.

The administrative court ruled Thursday, Dec. 4 against returning the land to Solms-Baruth, saying that he was not owed any compensation. Judge Wilfried Hamm gave no further explanation for his ruling.

Vows to appeal decision

Solms-Baruth has vowed to appeal the decision all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. He claimed that after German reunification, his own father had "fought the German authorities tirelessly for restitution of the family's estates and property -- until his death in January 2006."

Photo of the destroyed meeting room that waas the site of the 1944 attack on Adolf Hitler

Hitler's meeting room was destroyed in the attack, but the dictator was unscathed

Asked on Wednesday what he would do if he lost, the prince told DPA news service that he would "if necessary, take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, as the case is fundamentally an issue of human rights and democracy."

"What we are dealing with here is stolen property which needs to be returned. No victim would allow a thief to keep what he has stolen -- especially when it is the state which stands to benefit from a crime from which claims to protect its citizens," he told DPA.

Valkyrie film creates renewed interest

The Prince claims the Nazis stripped his late grandfather, the Third Prince of Solms-Baruth, of his rights of ownership over his company and estates in Brandenburg in the wake of the July 1944 bid to kill Hitler.

The case comes amid a renewed focus in recent months on the bomb plot, which was led by Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, in part because of the upcoming Tom Cruise film "Valkyrie" based on the event. Cruise plays the aristocratic colonel in the film.

Von Stauffenberg placed the bomb in a conference room where Hitler was meeting with his aides and military advisers, but the dictator excaped with scrapes and bruises.

Many plotters were arrested and executed in revenge killings that saw some hanged by the neck with piano wire. Solms-Baruth's grandfather, a long-time anti-Nazi, was involved in discussions of the plot and provided two of his mansions as meeting places.

Later he stayed at Castle Hega, the home of the Crown Princess of Sweden in Stockholm, before leaving Europe to move to Namibia.