Ear­li­er this week, Dina Gold chron­i­cled a dif­fi­cult encounter at her first author event for Stolen Lega­cy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Jus­tice at Krausen­strasse 17/18, Berlin, a per­son­al account of her resti­tu­tion claim on a build­ing built and owned by her great grand­fa­ther. She will be blog­ging here all week as part of the Vis­it­ing Scribe series on The ProsenPeo­ple.

Iner­tia is a won­der­ful thing if you are a bureau­crat — and per­haps espe­cial­ly so if you are a Ger­man one respon­si­ble for a build­ing once expro­pri­at­ed by the Nazis from Jew­ish owners. 

Two years ago, then Ger­man Min­is­ter of Trans­port, Dr. Peter Ram­sauer, asked one of his civ­il ser­vants to write to me promis­ing that he would arrange for a plaque to be affixed to the wall of a build­ing once owned by my family.

(Min­is­ter Dr. Peter Ram­sauer) asked me to respond to your ques­tion. We are awake to the his­to­ry of our office build­ing at Krausen­strasse 1720,” he wrote. The his­toric events con­nect­ed with con­struc­tion and uti­liza­tion of the build­ing have been impart­ed by us to all our vis­i­tors… I do sup­port your con­cern, to doc­u­ment the his­tor­i­cal back­ground out­side for all vis­i­tors and pedes­tri­ans by a plaque fixed on the build­ing. Espe­cial­ly, the remem­brance to the expro­pri­a­tion of the Jew­ish own­er Vic­tor Wolff should be brought atten­tion for the gen­er­al pub­lic. There­fore, I’ll arrange for the plaque to be pro­duced and affixed to office build­ing. I hope I could sat­is­fy your rea­son­able demand.”[sic]

Vic­tor Wolff was my great-grand­fa­ther. The mag­nif­i­cent build­ing, which in 2013 was part of the Min­istry of Trans­port, had been the Wolff fam­i­ly fur busi­ness head­quar­ters. They had lost pos­ses­sion in 1937 when the mort­gage was fore­closed upon and the prop­er­ty hand­ed direct­ly to the Reichs­bahn. In 1996 the Ger­man gov­ern­ment resti­tut­ed the build­ing to my moth­er and her sib­lings and prompt­ly bought it back off them, this time at the fair mar­ket price. A plaque com­mem­o­rat­ing the building’s his­to­ry seemed a small token of recog­ni­tion for what the fam­i­ly had been through. And Dr. Ram­sauer appeared to agree. 

But, despite the promise, noth­ing happened.

In June 2014, after ask­ing what progress had been made, I had anoth­er email, this time from a dif­fer­ent civ­il ser­vant, with the pal­try excuse that the rea­son for the delay was that respon­si­bil­i­ties for the office build­ing Krausen­strasse 1718 changed. The new own­er is the Bun­de­sanstalt für Immo­bilien­auf­gaben (Fed­er­al Author­i­ty for Real Prop­er­ty Admin­is­tra­tion), Fasa­nen­strasse 87, 10623 Berlin. So the new own­er has to decide the mat­ter. Hope­ful­ly they sup­port your rea­son­able demand so we did and the plaque will be placed on the build­ing as soon as pos­si­ble,” she cheer­ful­ly added.

Still no action fol­lowed. So I wrote again ask­ing for an update. In August 2014 I received a response from a third civ­il ser­vant, say­ing he was aware of my request, and that“the Insti­tute for Fed­er­al Real Estate (Bun­de­sanstalt für Immo­bilien­auf­gaben) — are respon­si­ble for the man­age­ment of that build­ing since July 2014. We will review your request and inform you as soon as we have new infor­ma­tion available.”

In order for jus­tice to be done, it must be seen done. So what is this end­less pre­var­i­ca­tion? Why am I still waiting?

Dina Gold is a for­mer BBC inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­er. She is on the board of the DC JCC and cur­rent­ly serves as co-chair of the Wash­ing­ton Jew­ish Film Fes­ti­val. She is a senior edi­tor at Moment magazine.

Relat­ed Content:

Dina Gold is a for­mer BBC inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist and tele­vi­sion pro­duc­er. She is on the board of the DCJCC and cur­rent­ly serves as coun­cil mem­ber of the Wash­ing­ton Jew­ish Film Fes­ti­val. She is a senior edi­tor at Moment mag­a­zine. Dina has been on tour all over the USA with the USHMM

Dina Gold is avail­able to be booked for speak­ing engage­ments through Read On. Click here for more information.