Practice Relating to Rule 51. Public and Private Property in Occupied Territory
Section C. Private property in occupied territory
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) provides:
A local commander may demand contributions in kind and services (requisitions) from the population and the authorities of the occupied territory to satisfy the needs of the occupational forces … The requisitions shall be in proportion to the capabilities of the country …
Requisitions shall, on principle, be paid for in cash. If this is not possible, a receipt shall be given. Payment shall be effected as soon as possible …
Movable private property which may be used for military purposes … may only be requisitioned but not confiscated … The title to this property shall not pass to the occupying state. Upon termination of the war, the items and real estate seized shall be restored.
All private property shall be protected from permanent seizure … – except for commodities designed for consumption.
In the Jorgić case
in 1997, Germany’s Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf found the accused guilty of genocide committed in the context of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. In 1999, the Federal Court of Justice confirmed the judgment of first instance in most parts. Both courts referred to the taking of property, such as money and furniture, and to the destruction and arson of buildings and private houses as part of the general background in which the genocide took place.
Working documents for the German army state that an army of occupation is allowed to appropriate goods from the civilian population if this is necessary to satisfy the needs of the army.