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Gottscheer Relief Association, New York

History of the Gottscheer Relief Association: Resolution of 1963

We present in full the resolution of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Gottscheer Landsmannschaften, instituted on the occasion of their meeting of August 3, 1963 in Klagenfurt, as translated into English:

 

RESOLUTION

The German ethnic enclave of Gottschee existed until the year 1941. Founded in the fourteenth century by the Ortenburgers, Gottschee withstood more than 600 years of history. In the middle of the last century the area of approximately 840 sq. kilometers was populated by 25,000 Germanic people. In the year 1940, however, only 15,000 remained. Although the surrounding areas were inhabited by slavic-speaking peoples, the Gottscheers preserved their language and culture until now. They subsisted peacefully with their neighbors and were always loyal citizens of the state to which they belonged.

After the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1941, the ethnic enclave was occupied by Italian troops. On August 31, 1941, a treaty was reached between the then German Reich and the Kingdom of Italy pertaining to, "the resettlement of those of German nationality and the ethnic Germans from the province of Ljubljana." Laden with hardships, the resettlement to the Rann/Sava region was undertaken in the winter of 1941/42. Then in 1945 the Gottscheers were driven away from this area without first receiving compensation or damages for their property. They came as refugees to Austria. Many eventually continued on to Germany, the United States, and other countries. Presently approximately 20,000 Gottscheers reside in the USA. But many, especially elderly Gottscheers, still live in poor conditions in camps in Austria. According to the terms of a binding legal treaty dated August 31, 1941, the Gottscheers were assured to receive compensation for their estates. The properties were taken over by the DUT, a national institution of the then German Reich.

This obligation for compensatory damages binds the present Deutsche Bundesrepublik (West Germany) as successor of the German Reich. The Federal Republic of Germany is thus obligated to make good for the confiscation of the properties in question. To this day no restitution has been made.

The position of the German authorities on this self-evident matter cannot be sanctioned. This position signifies confiscation without compensation, a position that should be inadmissable in every democracy. If Germany is to exist as a democracy, then it cannot ignore the justified demands of the Gottscheer resettlers.

The value of the property left behind by the Gottscheer resettlers is approximately 350 million DM. It was acquired by generations of Gottscheers who preserved it through good and bad times.  Under the terms of any constitutional government, land is regarded as unassailable. This principle should also apply to the Gottscheer resettlers. On the basis of the treaty of August 31, 1941, the Gottscheers demand to be equally entitled as citizens, and, in accordance with the natural rights of free nations, be given restitution! After years of waiting and hoping for justice, they are demanding that Germany honor its contract. They require that Germany fulfill the agreement of August 31, 1941 and provide compensation for the properties. The debt must be settled after 22 years of deprivation for those concerned!

The representatives of the Gottscheer Landsmannschaften (Societies) in Austria and Germany, as well as the clubs in the USA affiliated with the Gottscheer Relief Association of New York, herewith turn to the governments of Austria, Germany and the United States: Help the Gottscheer people achieve justice!

Klagenfurt, August 3, 1963. Signed by:

                Arbeitsgemeinschaft Villach Gottscheer Relief Association, Brooklyn, N.Y.

        Gottscheer Landsmannschaft, Graz Gottscheer Landsmannschaft, Deutschland

        Gottscheer Landsmannschaft, Klagenfurt Gottscheer Verein in Wien

 

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