Trial: Defeat for heirs of Hotel Adlon - no compensation

For years, the Adlon family has been fighting for compensation for the expropriation of the famous luxury hotel at the Brandenburg Gate.

Trial: Defeat for heirs of Hotel Adlon - no compensation

For years, the Adlon family has been fighting for compensation for the expropriation of the famous luxury hotel at the Brandenburg Gate. Now there has been another defeat for the descendants of the hotel builder Lorenz Adlon. On Thursday, the administrative court in Berlin dismissed a lawsuit by the heirs, with which they wanted to resume earlier proceedings for restitution. Felix Adlon, who represents the community of heirs, announced further legal steps - if necessary up to the Federal Constitutional Court. "Our path does not end here," he said after the verdict was announced. (Ref.: VG 29 K 131/20)

The great-great-grandson of the hotel builder is primarily concerned with the reputation of the Adlon family, as Felix Adlon emphasized before the hearing: "My great-grandparents Hedda and Louis Adlon were not Nazis. I want the dignity of my ancestors back manufacture." He himself knows that it is no longer possible to transfer the famous luxury hotel back: "The train has left." However, the plaintiffs hoped for "some material justice", explained his lawyer Wolfgang Peters. According to Felix Adlon, they were expropriated as heirs and robbed of their inheritance.

The court saw insufficient evidence

From his point of view, after years of research, there is new evidence that the Adlons themselves became victims of National Socialist persecution and had already been "actually expropriated" by the Nazis. The court did not see sufficient evidence for this. The presiding judge, Ulrich Kessler, said in the verdict that the world-famous hotel had been "instrumentalised" by the Nazis. However, the hotel operators were not completely squeezed out of their property before 1945.

The Adlon is now part of the Kempinski luxury hotel group. The old luxury hotel, which opened in 1907, was originally famous. At the end of the Second World War, the hotel burned down in 1945 except for a side wing. In 1984 this rest was also demolished. The Adlon name remained a myth. On August 23, 1997, the Hotel Adlon was finally reopened.

The dispute over the luxury house dates back to the 1990s: Immediately after German-German reunification, the Adlon family applied for the property to be reassigned. In 1994 the property was sold. In 1997, the State Office for the Settlement of Unresolved Property Issues rejected a first application for retransfer.

The heirs did not want to put up with this and applied for a reopening in 2019 with reference to new evidence - unsuccessfully. Therefore, the administrative court had to deal with the case. From the point of view of the 29th Chamber, however, some of the information was already known or had been submitted too late.

Plaintiff's attorney: "The Adlon is a special case"

Irrespective of this, the court also assumed that the evidence would not have led to a different decision. In 1949, the victorious Soviet power put war criminals and National Socialists on a list ("List 3") and expropriated them. Hedda and Louis Adlon were among them because they had joined the NSDAP in 1941.

Felix Adlon argued that he joined the NSDAP to protect the world-famous hotel. "That was nine years after Hitler took power," he emphasized. However, the administrative judges referred to the case law of the highest court: the Federal Constitutional Court has repeatedly confirmed that this exclusion of retransfer does not violate the Basic Law.

"The Adlon is a special case," emphasized plaintiff attorney Peters. The case law that Nazi property confiscated by the former Soviet Union generally cannot be returned must be reconsidered.

In the end, the judge agreed with Felix Adlon that he was forgiving

The judgment is not final. The Federal Administrative Court is the next instance responsible. In order for the Leipzig judges to deal with the case, however, the Adlons have to clear further legal hurdles.

"I know I didn't exactly make her happy," Judge Kessler said after the verdict was announced. However, a remark made by the judge at the trial made Felix Adlon forgiving: Based on what is known so far about the hotelier couple Heddi and Louis Adlon, one can say: "They weren't that bad of hands."

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