Historic carriage of the noble family Colloredo-Mansfeld from the furniture of the chateau in Opočno in Rychnovsk (pictured on October 8, 2002).
Pardubice – The Court of Appeal in Pardubice decided on the release of part of the furniture of the Opočno castle of the Colloredo-Mansfeld family. He confirmed the judgment of the district court from 2006. The set of objects includes a valuable carriage, a collection of paintings and several thousand other objects, such as historical weapons and dishes. The value is in hundreds of millions of crowns. ČTK requested a statement from the National Monuments Institute.
According to the court, the plaintiffs proved that they are entitled persons and that things were transferred to the state without a legal reason. They were originally confiscated under the Beneš decrees as persons of German nationality, but later it was proved that this reason was not given, stated the president of the senate, Alena Pokorná. “It is absurd that the property was first taken away by the Nazis in 1942 and then by the would-be democratic state of President Beneš,” said Pokorná.
Today's judgment is final. “The National Institute of Monuments must familiarize itself with the written version of the judgment and then decide on the next course of action in this matter, including a possible appeal to the Supreme Court,” Miloš Kadlec, director of the Institute of Monuments in Sychrov, told ČTK today.
The trial at large accepted part of the lawsuit today, released the items to the joint ownership of the plaintiffs, who were Jerome Colloredo-Mannsfeld and Kristina Colloredo-Mannsfeld, whose fathers were brothers. He did not recognize only a smaller number of items that Kristina Colloredo-Mannsfeld claimed as an inheritance from her father.
According to the court, the Gestapo decided to confiscate the furniture because the Colloredo-Mansfelds were enemies of the Reich, not because their ancestors were Jewish. The aristocratic family declared its loyalty to the Czechoslovak state in 1939 when the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia. Later, according to Beneš's decrees, it was confiscated by the Czechoslovak state.
“It is true that according to the decrees, persons whose property would be confiscated could defend themselves by saying that they were loyal to the republic, even if they were Germans, or that they helped in the fight against Nazism. But a decision was needed, because even according to today's jurisprudence, decrees they took the property ex lege, i.e. by law,” said Pokorná. According to her, however, it was not proven that the Colloredo-Masnfelds were of German nationality or were loyal to Czechoslovakia.
The lawsuit also tried to prove that one of the ancestors of the aristocratic family was of Jewish origin and that it was also one of reasons why the Nazis confiscated property. According to lawyers, this is evidenced by contemporary documents stored in the archives of the Czech National Bank.
Last June, the Court of Appeal in Pardubice, in another branch of the restitution case, also recognized the claim of the Colloredo-Mansfelds for the release of part of the furniture of the Opočno castle. Last year, the court recognized the claims of the descendants of the elder prince Josef Colloredo-Mannsfeld, born in 1866. However, it rejected another part of the request for the release of furniture that previously belonged to Josef Colloredo-Mannsfeld, born in 1910.
The district court first ordered the monument institute a larger part of the furniture of the chateau in Opočné, subsequently the claim was rejected by the superiors of the court. The Constitutional Court later rejected the return. In the fall of 2017, the Constitutional Court rejected Colloredo-Mansfeld's motion for a retrial on two complaints regarding the furniture. In January 2018, however, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg published a judgment in which it supported Colloredo-Mansfeld's efforts to renew the proceedings regarding the extradition of the furniture, as the European Court also decided in the case of her cousin. In 2018, the Constitutional Court renewed the proceedings and decided the year before last June that the judiciary must reopen the dispute over the castle's furniture.