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August 16, 2006


Backword Dave

That was pretty much my argument. You put it better, of course.

james higham

"If the Auschwitz museum also has a claim on the suitcase, as I think it does, it's simply that the suitcase has become a sort of public document - a historical relic that has educational value."

Chris, sadly, this might be the case.


You are assuming, I take it, that Polish Law of the period would not have determined whom the case belonged to? Because if it did, surely Clever Davie's argument would tell you just to honour the law?

Charlie Whitaker

Isn't there a 'rule utilitarian' view of the holocaust? The principle of making sure that people are educated about it, which benefits society most in the long run?


As Dearieme suggests, presumably the ownership of the (in English law) chattels at Auschwitz and/or ownership of the Museum contents has been determined by Polish law. This can be ascertained, though presumably subject to challenge on Convention and/or Polish Constitution grounds. What is the basis for the son's claim to ownership by inheritance of such a specific article? In England and Wales, the estate would vest in the personal representatives, including such items, unless left as specific legacies, who could dispose of them as they saw fit to pay debts and expenses, etc., surely, without residuary legatees or heirs on intestacy having a claim to receive in specie. Which state's law of succesion would apply in this case? And what would it provide?(This is all just to suggest that succession to property, like property itself, is a complex structure of legal artefacts, derived from a constantly changing amalgam of tradition, policy and principle, rather than the natural fact or obvious natural right that Finkelstein, for instance, seemed to think.)

If the suitcase had been distributed by the authority upon liberation to a survivor or taken by one, whether regularized or not, would anyone suppose that, in the circumstances, theft? Certainly, one would think Hume -very much one for law, and specifically rights of property, giving way to necessity in emergency- would be hardly likely to. There are many occasions from famine to fire when the public benefit positively requires appropriation, consimption without consent, or destruction of private property.


I'm slightly puzzled by the introduction of legal juristiction in this case. Was Polish Law even operating in Poland at the time? What if M. Levi-Leleu had been resident in Germany at the time? Would we be discussing this in the context of German law?

Didn't the Nazis have any some provision in law to reallocate the property of Jews? And if they had have done, would this be a factor in this discussion here?

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