THE FACTS

The facts of the case as submitted by the applicant may be summarised
as follows:

The applicant is a German citizen, born in 1894 and resident in I..
In 1924 he took over the family farm from his father, but in 1931 fire
was set to the buildings which burnt down completely together with the
harvest. As a result of this the applicant became heavily indebted and
instituted proceedings in 1934 to obtain freedom from encumbrances
under the 1933 Act relating to the regulation of debts concerning
agricultural properties (Gesetz zur Regelung landwirtschaftlicher
Schuldverhältnisse). However, the applicant's indebtedness increased
and it proved impossible to liquidate his debts at that time.

In 1937 the farm was entered in the records as being a hereditary farm
(Erbhof) but in 1940 the Regional Hereditary Farm Court
(Landeserbhofgericht) decided upon the application of the District Head
of the Farmers' Association (Kreisbauernführer) that he should lose his
status as being a farmer. Subsequently the proceedings to liquidate the
applicant's debts under the above 1933 Act were discontinued and in
October 1941 an order was made for the public sale of the farm.
However, owing to an intervention by Hitler's Office the public sale
did not take place.

In January 1943 the applicant sold his farm and paid his debts from the
proceeds. He continued to manage the farm however, but after the
buyer's death in 1949 the farm was sold in 1954 to a land-settlement
society which in turn sold separate plots to more than 30 farmers
including the applicant and his wife who are presently again owners of
66 hectares of the previous family farm.

The applicant considers that the considerable losses suffered by him
were the result of Nazi terror and that he is a victim of Nazi
persecution owing to the religious and political opinions held by him.

After 1945 he first claimed restitution of his farm but this was
refused by the Restitution Division of the Regional Court
(Wiedergutmachungskammer des Landgerichts) in Hanover on .. December
1951. The Regional Court's decision was confirmed by the Court of
Appeal (Oberlandesgericht) at Celle in ... 1952.

The applicant then lodged with the Compensation Office at Lüneburg a
claim for compensation under the Federal Compensation Act
(Bundesentschädigungsgesetz). His claim was refused in ... 1956 and
this decision was confirmed by the Regional Court of Lüneburg in ...
1956 and, on appeal (Berufung) by the Court of Appeal at Celle on ..
September 1957. A further appeal (Revision) was not allowed and the
applicant's complaint in this respect to the Federal Court
(Bundesgerichtshof) was rejected on .. February 1958. All courts found
that although the applicant could be considered as having been an enemy
of the Third Reich, the loss of his property was not the result of Nazi
terror but solely the consequence of his bad management of the farm.

In 1960 the applicant apparently again seized the Restitution Division
of the Hanover Regional Court to obtain a reopening of the restitution
proceedings. This action was rejected on .. December 1960 and the
applicant then appealed to the Supreme Restitution Court at Herford
which dismissed his appeal on .. May 1963. In .. 1964 he addressed a
petition to the President of the Supreme Restitution Court requesting
a decision by another division of that Court. The President decided on
.. February 1965 that he had no competence to make such an order.

On 5 March 1965 the applicant lodged with this Commission an
application (No. 2457/65) under Article 25 of the Convention
complaining of the refusal by the German courts and by the Supreme
Restitution Court of his claims for restitution and compensation and
of the court proceedings concerned. He invoked Articles 3, 5 and 6 of
the Convention. By decision of 10 July 1967 the Commission declared his
application inadmissible finding that it had no competence ratione
temporis, ratione materiae and ratione personae to deal with his
respective complaints relating to his claims for restitution and
compensation or to the proceedings before the Supreme Restitution Court
so that in these respects his application was incompatible with the
Convention (Article 27, paragraph (2), of the Convention). The
Commission further found that the applicant had failed to observe the
six months' time-limit (Article 26 of the Convention) with regard to
his complaints concerning the proceedings before the German courts so
that in this respect the application was out of time (Article 27 (3)
of the Convention).

From the statements and from documents submitted in support of his
present application it appears that in ... 1969 the applicant made a
further application to obtain compensation for his losses allegedly
resulting from Nazi persecution. This time he petitioned the Minister
of Interior of Lower Saxony invoking Article 171 of the Federal
Compensation Act which gives discretionary powers to the authorities
to award "compensation for hardship cases" (Härteausgleich). He claimed
that the refusal of compensation, based on wrong decision, constituted
unbearable injustice and hardship in view of the fact that his
opposition to the Nazi Party had been fully established.

By decision of .. May 1969 the said Minister of the Interior refused
the petition on the ground that the applicant had not suffered any
damages as being a victim of Nazi persecution. On .. June 1969 the
applicant brought an action in the Regional Court of Hanover for a
judicial decision on the Minister's refusal to allow his claim. This
was rejected on .. August 1969 and the applicant appealed (Berufung)
to the Court of Appeal at Celle against that decision. On .. March 1970
the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Both courts confirmed the
previous findings of the courts and authorities, namely that the
applicant was not to be regarded as being a victim of Nazi terror but
had suffered the loss of his farm as a result of his bad management.
In its decision of .. March 1970 the Court of Appeal examined once more
in detail the applicant's allegations and advanced further reasons to
show that they were unjustified. It further stated that it had not been
necessary to obtain further evidence as the facts had been sufficiently
clarified in the various previous proceedings instituted by the
applicant and that his request for the examination of further evidence
were irrelevant.

Complaints

The applicant now complains that he was wrongly refused compensation
for hard cases under Article 171 of the Federal Compensation Act. He
alleges that, as in the previous proceedings, the courts relied on the
findings of the Hereditary Farm Court in 1940 to the effect that he was
incapable as a farmer. This finding, however, had been based on the
evidence of the District Head of Farmers' Association who had testified
against him owing to his opposition to the Nazi Party. The Hereditary
Farm Court had accepted this evidence without having ever examined the
true facts of his case, and particularly the effects of the burning of
his farm. Thus the Farm Court had committed perversion of justice
(Rechtsbeugung) and the files of that Court had been the basis of all
later decisions relating to his attempts to obtain restitution of his
farm or compensation for its loss.

The applicant invokes Article 6 (1), (2) and (3) (d) of the Convention.
He alleges, in particular, that he did not have impartial judges, that
the criminal charges against him have not been lawfully determined,
that he was not presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law,
and that he did not have a fair hearing since two of his most important
witnesses had not been examined by the courts.

The applicant finally states that his present application is solely
directed against the proceedings relating to his claim for compensation
for hardship cases under Article 171 of the Federal Compensation Act.
It is therefore substantially different from his previous application
No. 2457/65.


THE LAW

1.   The applicant has submitted that he suffered damage as a result
of Nazi terror. The events which gave rise to the alleged injury
concern a period prior to 3 September 1953 the date of the entry into
force of the Convention with respect to the Federal Republic of
Germany. However, in accordance with the generally recognised rules of
international law, the Convention only governs, for each Contracting
Party, facts subsequent to its entry into force with respect to that
Party.

It follows that the examination of the application in this respect is
outside the competence of the Commission ratione temporis.

2.   The applicant has also complained of the refusal by the German
authorities to award him compensation for hardship cases under Article
171 of the Federal Compensation Act for the damage suffered by him as
a result of Nazi terror. However, under Article 25 (1) (Art. 25-1) of
the Convention, it is only the alleged violation of one of the rights
and freedoms set forth in the Convention that can be the subject of an
application presented by a person, non-governmental organisation or
group of individuals.

In particular, in accordance with the Commission's constant
jurisprudence, no right to obtain compensation for an alleged injury,
the examination of which is outside the competence of the Commission
ratione temporis, is guaranteed by any of the provisions of the
Convention (see e.g. decisions on the admissibility of applications No.
899/60, Yearbook, Vol. 5, pp. 136, 142, No. 2457/65, Collection of
Decisions, Vol. 24, pp. 43, 45).

In this connection, the Commission has just found that the examination
of the applicant's submissions relating to the alleged injury is
outside the competence of the Commission ratione temporis.

It follows that this part of the application is incompatible ratione
materiae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of
Article 27, paragraph (2) (Art. 27-2).

3.   The applicant has finally complained that Article 6 (1), (2) and
(3) (d) (Art. 6-1, 6-2, 6-3-d of the Convention have been violated by
reason of the court proceedings relating to his claim for compensation
for hardship under Article 171 of the Federal Compensation Act.

The Commission first observes that there is nothing in the applicant's
submissions to show that he has ever been charged with any criminal
offenses. Consequently, the provisions of Article 6 relating to
criminal offenses, in particular, Article 6 (2) and (3) (d)
(Art. 6-2, 6-3-d), are not applicable in his case.

On the other hand, Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the Convention also
provides that, in "the determination of his civil rights and
obligations .... everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing
within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal
established by law". It is clear that this provision is only applicable
where the proceedings complained of involve the determination of the
applicant's civil rights or obligations.

In this respect the Commission had regard to the judgment of the
European Court of Human Rights in the Ringeisen Case, dated 16 July
1971, and to the Commission's own established jurisprudence.
The Commission had decided in previous cases that the question whether
a right or obligation was of a civil nature did not depend upon the
particular procedure prescribed by domestic law for its determination
but solely upon an appreciation of the claim itself and of the purpose
of the complaint (see, for instance, decision on the admissibility of
application No. 808/60, Isop v. Austria, Yearbook, Vol. 5, pp. 108,
122). Indeed, the term "civil rights and obligations" could not be
construed as a mere reference to the domestic law of the High
Contracting Party concerned but, on the contrary, must be interpreted
independently of the rights existing in the law of the High Contracting
Parties (see decisions on the admissibility of application No. 1931/63,
Yearbook, Vol. 7, pp. 213, 233).

Finally, the European Court of Human Rights held in its above judgment
in the Ringeisen Case that, for Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the
Convention to be applicable, it was not necessary that "both parties
to the proceedings should be private persons" and that the "character
of the legislation which governs how the matter is to be determined
(civil, commercial, administrative law, etc.) and that of the authority
which is invested with jurisdiction in the matter (ordinary court,
administrative body, etc.)" was of little consequence. In the Court's
finding, the wording of Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) both in the French and
in the English text, is far wider in that it covers "all proceedings
the result of which is decisive for private rights and obligations".

However, the Commission considers that the proceedings in the present
case do not even meet this test. Article 171 (1) of the Federal
Compensation Act provides that the competent authorities have
discretion to grant compensation, out of a public fund, for hardship
cases, where the claimant has suffered damage as a result of Nazi
persecution within the meaning of Article 1 of the Federal Compensation
Act, but does not otherwise qualify for compensation under the
provisions of the Act. The proceedings relating to such claims, either
before the competent authorities or subsequently before the courts,
therefore concern the exercise by the Government of discretionary
powers in cases where a claimant has shown that he is a victim of Nazi
persecution within the meaning of the Act. The exercise of this
discretionary power is to a certain extent subject to revision by the
courts.

The present applicant was refused compensation by the competent
authorities on the ground that he was not a victim of Nazi persecution
within the meaning of the Act and this decision was upheld by the Court
of Appeal at Celle. This decision which terminated the proceedings
relating to the execution of those discretionary powers, was in no way
"decisive for private rights and obligations" within the meaning of
Article 6 (1) (Art. 6-1) of the Convention.

In these circumstances the Commission finds that the proceedings
concerning the applicant's application for compensation for hardship
cases fell outside the scope of Article 6 (Art. 6) of the Convention
and this part of the application is therefore also incompatible with
the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 27 (2)
(Art. 27-2).

For these reasons, the Commission DECLARES THIS APPLICATION
INADMISSIBLE