The grandson of a German aristocrat who was involved in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler 75 years ago today launches a new battle to reclaim his family’s estate seized by the Nazis.
Prince Frederick Solms-Baruth, whose grandfather was involved in the Valkyrie plot, which also involved an officer called Claus von Stauffenberg, has produced scientific evidence which he says proves the Gestapo confiscated the land.
Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, agreed this week to support the claim which could end up in the European Court for Human Rights.
The grandson of a German aristocrat who was involved in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler (above, the aftermath of the bomb plot is surveyed by Herman Goering and Martin Bormann) 75 years ago today launches a new battle to reclaim his family’s estate seized by the Nazis
Frederick Solms-Baruth III was arrested 24 hours after the failed July 20, 1944, assassination attempt as he was burning incriminating documents in a log fire in his castle 30 miles south of Berlin.
For nine months he was incarcerated in the notorious Prince Albrechtstrasse Gestapo prison in Berlin as the personal prisoner of Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and one of Hitler’s most trusted lieutenants
He was kept in solitary confinement and repeatedly tortured. He signed a legal declaration handing over control of the vast estate, which included castles, a steel works, a porcelain factory, a huge dairy, tens of thousands of acres of forestry and farmland, and an internationally-renowned stud.
The current Prince Frederick, 55, who lives in Monaco, says: ‘It flies in face of logic and history to suggest the estate was legally acquired by the Nazis.’
He is now fighting to recover what’s left of the estate, around 19,000 acres of agricultural land worth around £10million, and two manor houses which are under the control of local authorities.
In a previous hearing in 2014 the prince was told it was merely a ‘coincidence’ his grandfather was arrested a day after the failed coup.
Prince Frederick Solms-Baruth, whose grandfather was involved in the Valkyrie plot, which also involved an officer called Claus von Stauffenberg, has produced scientific evidence which he says proves the Gestapo confiscated the land
It ruled that his grandfather had handed over the land in a binding legal transaction.
Prince Frederick says: ‘Everyone knows what happened when people were in captivity but the courts have said I can’t prove it.’
In February his team made a breakthrough when they discovered in a government archive a decree by Himmler which defined exactly how the Gestapo should seize ‘land from enemies of the state so no one would think they had been seized as an act of revenge’.
The document was signed on February 8, 1944, by Himmler. It corresponds with a speech by him on August 30, 1944, to Nazi regional leaders in which he set out how to take the property from the conspirators in an ‘optically perfect way’ – making them sign over the land to neutral figures who were in fact a ‘Trustee of the State’.
Current Prince Frederick now fighting to recover what’s left of the estate (pictured), around 19,000 acres of agricultural land worth around £10million, and two manor houses which are under the control of local authorities
Prince Frederick says Himmler was aiming to make his SS and Gestapo fiefdom economically independent from competing Nazi organisations, with the eventual aim of taking over from Hitler.
In February chemical analysis confirmed that ink used on the property transfer papers, pre-dated the fall of the Nazis in 1945.
Lord Goldsmith says: ‘I find it surprising that 75 years after the event the descendant of one of the victims of Nazi expropriation is being forced to take a case to court to prove his right to recover assets confiscated by the Nazis.’
The prince’s grandfather never recovered from his incarceration and died in 1951, at 65. Prince Frederick said: ‘No one would allow a thief to keep what he has stolen.’
Chancellor Angela Merkel will address a memorial event today to honour the Valkyrie plotters.