Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Rothschild descendant claims initial victory in legal battle with Vienna

Rothschild A Rothschild descendant has "claimed an initial victory" in a legal battle with the City of Vienna regarding the challenge of a medical trust set up by his ancestors. The medical trust was seized by Nazis in 1938 and is now controlled by the city. 

Geoffrey Hoguet is suing the Austrian authorities for control of the trust. "The case is the latest chapter in Austria’s long, slow reckoning with one of the darkest chapters in its history, the persecution of its Jewish citizens after it came under Nazi rule, and the theft of their property and assets." 

Hoguet was supported by a court when his lawyer claimed that the city of Vienna had a conflict of interest over the foundation's finances. The court held that "an independent figure, or "collision curator" must be appointed to represent the charity in legal proceedings over a 2017 change to its statutes." 

This decision was very important as it was a step forward in correcting "the course of Nazi-era injustices endured." Hoguet has now called on Viennese politicians to take action and reinstate and independent governing board. 

Hoguet, an American, learned that his great-grandfather set up a foundation for mental health and neurological conditions. "The Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild foundation flourished in the city known as the birthplace of modern psychiatry, and home of Sigmund Freud, with board members at one point including a Nobel laureate."

Hoguet has made it his mission to end the pattern of erasure that "scrubbed" the city of any remembrance of the Rothschild's philanthropy and investment that shaped the city. 

See Emma Graham-Harrison, Rothschild descendant claims initial victory in legal battle with Vienna, The Guardian, November 14, 2020. 

Special thanks to Daryane Couto for for bringing this article to my attention.


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