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Aryanization of Jewish Property - Report of the Public Prosecutor

Chief Public Prosecutor Dr. Joel
At present: Nuremberg

15 February 1939

Subject: Measures for the Aryanization of Jewish real estate, with particular cooperation of Notaries Public and the Magistrates in charge of Land Registry in Nuremberg and Nuremberg-Fuerth.

I had a thorough conference with the Magistrate in charge of Land Registry at the local court in Fuerth, Herr Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss today. Herr Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss reported on his experiences with entries in the land register from the point of view mentioned above and made the following statement:

After the well known antisemitic demonstrations which occurred in the Reich on 9 and 10 November 1938, the Land Registry Office in Fuerth received a telephone call from deputy-Gauleiter Holz. The call was answered by clerk of justice O'Erterl. The Deputy Gauleiter requested from the Land Registry an immediate roster of all Jewish landowners in the district. Later another telephone call came through in which the person calling introduced himself as Streichers office calling. The second call requested that when the roster of Jewish landowners was made out, the mortgages on each piece of real estate should be put down. Apart from these calls the following people appeared in person at the Land Registry Office: Sturmbannfuehrer Kern of the town of Fuerth and later, as a delegate of the party, party-comrade Sandreuther who is a town councilor of Fuerth. Both renewed the request which had been made over the telephone. Herr Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss informed the presiding judge of the local court, Amtsgerictsdirektor Greiner of the requests. The latter delegated personnel from other sections and the town council of Fuerth assigned auxiliary clerks for the task. Thereupon the lists were made out without delay.

To speed up the work the Treasury Department had temporarily ceded its index-file of Jews to the Land Registry Office.

When the lists were ready, some of them were handed over to party-comrade Sandreuther personally as delegate of the party, the rest were collected by a girl secretary of Sandreuther.

On 14 November 1938 Stadtoberamtsmann Kern delivered to the Land Registry Office the first two deeds on sales resulting from the Aryanization. In the first of these the town of Fuerth acquired from the Jewish Congregation all its real estate property (Synagogue, two cemeteries, administration building, schoolhouse, orphanage and most probably also the Jewish hospital). The legal assessed value of this real estate property amounted to over RM 100,000.- . As purchasing price the amount of RM 100.- was inserted. In the second deed the town of Fuerth acquired from a private Jewish inhabitant, Salmann, real estate of a legal assessed value of approximately RM 200,000.-. As purchasing price RM 160.- was entered. These deeds were formally correct. In spite of this Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss refused to make the requisite entry in the land register. He held the opinion that in view of the low purchasing price, special measures must be taken in the process of Aryanization and that he must therefore first report the matter to his superior. Oberamtmann Kern accepted this statement with the reservation that he would have to inform party-comrade Sandreuther about it. This conversation took place in the presence of Amtsgerichtsdirektor Greiner between Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss and Oberamtmann Kern.

On 15 November 1938 town councilor Dr. Zeidler of Fuerth, in his capacity as representative of the purchasing party, the town of Fuerth, tried to get Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss to register the transaction. Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss was at that time on the point of expressing his scruples in a letter to the presiding judge of the Local Court of Fuerth. He just was engaged on the report dated 15 November 1938, a copy of which is enclosed, addressed to the presiding judge at the Local Court of Fuerth. Following this, Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss had another telephone call from party-comrade Sandreuther. Sandreuther said that he was not approaching him as Amtsgerichtsrat (judge of the local court), but as a party-comrade, and that he had informed the Gauleitung (Regional Board of the Party) about the matter so that there should be no obstacles put in its way. Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss again expressed to party-comrade Sandreuther the scruples he had exposed in his letter of 15 November 1938. Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss read this report to party-comrade Sandreuther and later transmitted a copy of his report to be passed on to the Gauleitung.

Amtsgerichtdirektor Greiner, who had heard the conversation between Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss and Stadtoberamtmann Kern about the question of the entry, had had an interview with the Landesgerichtpraesident (Presiding Judge of the Provincial Court) in the meantime. Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss transmitted the report of 15 November 1938 to Amtsgerichtsdirektor Greiner went again with this report to see Landgerichtspraesident Hoesch in Nuremberg. Shortly after Amtsgerichtsdirektor Greiner had left his office, the mayor and Kreisleiter (party district leader) Jacob of Fuerth and town councilor party-comrade Sandreuther called there. As the Amtsgerichtsdirektor was absent, they were received by clerk of justice Doerrer. Oberbuergermeister Jacob is reported to have said to Justizinspektor Doerrer that the Gauleitung (Regional Board of the Party) would make Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss hurry up.

On returning from his interview with Landgerichtspraesident Dr. Hoesch, Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss declared that the Landgerichtspraesident also had nothing against the legalization of the deeds. Nevertheless, Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss thought he should ask for another interview with the Landgerichtspraesident and shortly afterwards went to Nuremberg for that purpose.

Landgerichtspraesident Dr. Hoesch declared that already two notaries public had remonstrated with him, since they had scruples about the legalization of the documents requested by the delegate of the Party. There could be no doubt, he said, that the agreement had been made under pressure and that therefore the deeds gave a wrong impression of the facts. But he had succeeded in removing these scruples in a joint discussion. In reply to the scruples of Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss Landgerichtspraesident Hoesch expressed the opinion that the question of free will might perhaps be doubtful, but that, after all, every action in human life was subject to some special influence. It was quite clear from this that the Landgerichtspraesident had no scruples and that he did not wish to get into trouble with the Gauleitung. Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss finally declared that he would now start legalizing the deeds, but that he kept to the legal interpretation laid down in his report of 15 November 1938, and said that he would issue a report on the legalization with reference to this conference. Landgerichtspraesident Hoesch, however, gave him to understand that a written report was neither desirable nor necessary. Landgerichtspraesident Hoesch fell sick on the morning after the interview with Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss and did not come back to the office until some days ago. So that in the days which ensued Amtsgerichtsrat Leisshad only to deal once in the matter with his deputy in office, Landgerichtsdirektor Greiner.

In the meantime, the Aryanization in Fuerth was handled in the following way: SA men would pick up Jews, town councilor party-comrade Sandreuther and [others] would negotiate with them in the town hall, while the notaries public Keim and Maier were busy in another room of the town hall where the Jews were soon brought before them. Sales were effected by entering 10% of the legal assessed value as the purchasing price while mortgages were redeemed and the costs had to be paid by the Jews themselves. Later they proceeded also to Aryanize mortgages, i.e. the Jews received 10% of the mortgage value as a compensation for the cession. Subsequent redin the purchasing prices also occurred. This happened in the case of purchasing contracts which had been drawn up before 9 November 1938, but which had not yet been legalized in the LanRegister. Even in deeds which had already been legally entered in the Land Register such reductions of purchasing prices occurred.

At a further conference with town councilor Sandreuther and Nagel, the question was discussed as to what importance it would have for the entry if the tax fees on the notarys deeds were not paid. Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss declared that the notary public could, on principle, only submit the documents to the Land Registry after the tax fees had been paid, but that this was an affair which did not concern the magistrate in charge of land registry and which would have to be accounted for by the notaries public. The two party delegates, however, told Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss that the notaries public would be given a general suspension of this regulation by the competent District Finance Officer, as it has been ascertained, this suspension by the District Finance Officer was never given. The conference prompted Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss to suggest a suspension of the court fee regulations according to which no entries might be made in the land register without pre-payment of the fees. Landgerichtsdirektor Greiner, the deputy Landesgerichtspraesident, was asked about this over the telephone by Gaufachgruppnewalter Nagel. Some time later, Landgerichtsdirektor Greiner called up Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss on the subject and declared he would have to do the whole thing on his own responsibility, he, Greiner, would back him in any case.

Another request was made to Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss which intimated that even the formal pre-requisites for the entry of notes in the land register no longer existed. Notary Public Dr. Keim pointed out to Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss that entries would now have to be made in the public land register also in favor of the future purchaser who was to be appointed by the Gauleitung, so as to secure his claim to the transfer of the property…

On 26 November 1938 Amtgerichtsrat Dr. Greiner declared that not only the Landgerichtsprident but also Secretary of State Dr. Schlegelberger in the Reich Ministry of Justice feel no scruples about the desired registration. In spite of this, Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss still asked for the report to be submitted as he had referred to it in the files of the land register. Amtsgerichtsrat Dr. Greiner therefore urged him to report on these statements he had added to the land register files, and this he did in his report of 28 November 1938, a copy of which is enclosed. After these reports Amtsgerichtsrat Leissheard no more of the matter until 21 December 1938. On 21 December 1938 the following decree was issued by the Landgerichtspraesident to the Amtgerichtsdirektor in Fuerth – No. 385 E –

In reply to the report of 1 December 1938 I beg to inform Amtsgerichtsrat Leiss as follows:

Directives or instructions concerning the proceeding of sales of Jewish real estate are not to be expected at present.

The magistrate in charge of the land register will order the legalization of the deeds or will refuse it.

Such remarks in the files of the land register as for legal judgment see enclosed copies of the reports of 15 and 21 November 1938 and for legal judgment see statement in land register files Fuerth no. 2200/226 are inadmissible and will be removed from the files together with the reports. The reports of 15 and 21 November 1938 concern internal office matters of the judicial administration and will therefore be filed with the records on internal office affairs collective files.

By deputy,
(signed) Greiner

The registrations requested were entered until Saturday, 3 December 1938 when the matter was settled by law through the ordinance on the utilization of Jewish property of 3 December 1938…

Source: "Office of Chief of Counsel for War Crimes NG 616 – quoted in: J. Mendelsohn, The Holocaust", Vol. 1, New-York & London, 1982 pp. 166-170.

Source: Yad Vashem - Eclipse of Humanity