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Old July 6, 2013, 05:14 PM   #26
Mike Irwin
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"It's been gone for decades, no one cared."

Actually, if you read up on the very little history of this rifle, the Poles have cared QUITE A bit.

There's apparently one in a private collection in Germany that they've been trying to get for years.


"It's not like it was stolen from an individual that can't afford to buy it back or even from Bill Gates."

Why should that matter in the very least?

You go to Paris, and on a whim, you pocket the Eiffel Tower, come back and set it up in your back yard.

You didn't steal it from an individual, but you did steal it, the French are righteously ****** about it, and want it back.

Obviously France can pay you to return it. But why should the people of French pay part of their tax money to have returned to them something that is part of their cultural birthright?

There's the rub... You tried to remove people from the equation, but you simply can't.

When you say "Let Poland pay for it!" you're really saying "Let every hardworking Pole who pays taxes pay for it!"
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Old July 6, 2013, 05:16 PM   #27
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That is standard legal practice. It just seems like an unnecessary technicality under these circumstances. Government of all kinds and places burn money like they're using it for firewood. The idea that they can't just buy the thing from the guy seems silly to me.
You know, maybe only spend $15.235 million on studying the flatulence of the Polish Evergreen Beetle (fictional character for dramatic effect) instead of the planned $15.3 million. Know what I mean?
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Old July 6, 2013, 05:20 PM   #28
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"The rifle in question, would not have been stolen, if it left with US military permission, like every other spoils or captured weapon, which more than likely, it very well did. Of course, Poland will swear it was stolen, but any government would, if they thought it would be handed back for free."

Did you read the Polish complaint, Dixie?

The Poles say that the rifle was illegally taken from their possession (stolen) by German soldiers who invaded in 1939.

At that point, the fact that the Americans recovered it from German possession is irrelevant. The Americans recovered stolen property.

Yes, they let it go, probably in good faith, but that doesn't invalidate the Polish claims of their property being stolen by the Germans.

Once again we go right back to the art analogy.

Once the Nazis overran a nation, they systematically looted its art treasures (both those held privately and those held in national collections) and either returned them to Germany as "property of the Reich" or sold them through neutral nations like Switzerland or Sweden.

After World War II some of those art treasures were even cleared to return to the United States with GIs because in a lot of cases neither the GIs nor the officers approving the transfer had a clue to the item's significance.

None of that changes the simple fact that the item in question was stolen property.
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Old July 6, 2013, 05:26 PM   #29
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"Know what I mean?"

To be perfectly honest....

No. I don't.

I don't see why it should make a difference.

You could just as easily say "Let Brian Pfleuger spend a little less on Big Macs and Starbucks and pay Mike Irwin for the return of property that is rightfully Brian's but which was stolen from him a number of years ago."

I might be a lot less inclined to see Poland's point of view in this matter if their ONLY intention was to take possession of the rifle and then auction it off to the highest bidder.

But that's clearly not the case.
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Old July 6, 2013, 05:35 PM   #30
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I guess we shall not agree.

Mike is in possession of property stolen from Brian's family 75 years ago. Mike has no idea it's stolen. Brian's family has two choices to get it back. Demand it and wait as long as it takes and pay whatever it costs to get through the legal challenges or each member of the family can pay 1 US cent and get the item back immediately.

Both choices are "within their rights", certainly.

As I said before, the cost of that rifle is 0.0016 US pennies per polish person.

Me? I'd pay it. You, you'd sue. It's all good. Neither of us has to understand the other.
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Old July 6, 2013, 06:08 PM   #31
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Mike,

Even if the German's stole it, and it was recovered by someone in the US forces, our government gave written permission to that person to keep it, and formed a contract as good as a bill of sale, that made it legally theirs, and made it able to be owned or sold. It also put the liability on the US government. If so, and it has changed hands, legally, then someone owes the people who claim that right of ownership, that our own government gave them. Once money and possession changed hands, the first time, it kind of made things moot, as now there's money or value to be accounted for. To me, either our own government needs to pay for it, since they declared it legal, or the Poles, if they want it back so bad, or collect its worth from our government, or really, from Germany. Somebody owes the last owner, because of legal ownership, and they are owed its worth. If it had never been sold, then things would not have been so murky, but still there was the fact that the US government said it was legal to become someones property in the first place. The only way it could not, would be if it was stolen, and somebody slipped it here, without the US governments knowledge, thus it would truly be stolen property. Our government can't take something, that they declared legal, and not pay a fair value for it.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, in that the US could look to see what of ours may still be in the Poles possession, and demand it back too. I'm sure they could find something of equal value.
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Old July 6, 2013, 06:47 PM   #32
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I find myself wondering how many "Polish National Treasures" were removed to Stalin's Russia...and how many Russia of today will send back to Poland.
How far will this go...will Norway declare the Norwegian Colt 1911 my Dad brought home from the war a national treasure? After all...it is dated 1929, and no doubt was "stolen" by the krauts before my Dad recovered it. I suppose Dad should have notified the nearest Norwegian embassy he had their pistol.
I guess Poland is lucky this rifle seems to have been well cared for...it's owner could have been named Bubba, and he could have said to himself "this thing would be perfect if I can just Dremel it to fit my Tapco SKS folder"
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Old July 6, 2013, 07:12 PM   #33
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Me? I'd pay it. You, you'd sue. It's all good. Neither of us has to understand the other.
No, you have misunderstood completely. I have not represented what I would do in the least. I am simply explaining what Poland has done. I am not Poland and I am not Polish.

Requesting back antiquities items through diplomatic or treaty agreement does not really cost much in the way of money if the country where the item is located actually complies with the treaty. Poland isn't suing the collector. Poland isn't suing the US (not yet, anyway).

If anyone is suing, it will be the collector to try to get the gun back, but as noted in the article cited in the OP, the collector isn't likely to do that. Even if he does sue, he won't be suing Poland because Poland doesn't have the gun. The VA AG filed a complaint asking for the case to be removed, but this complaint isn't against Poland, but against the US government. So this notion that Poland is spending all this money on a lawsuit is a not issue. They have not filed a lawsuit thus far, but simply made a typical request for an antiquities item to be returned.
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Old July 6, 2013, 07:28 PM   #34
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Mike Irwin, Thanks for the antiquities law link; some interesting stuff there.
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Old July 6, 2013, 08:32 PM   #35
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Wrong, Brian. I would adhere to international traits and conventions.

That is what Poland is doing.

They are not suing.
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Old July 7, 2013, 08:29 AM   #36
Dixie Gunsmithing
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I find myself wondering how many "Polish National Treasures" were removed to Stalin's Russia...and how many Russia of today will send back to Poland.
How far will this go...will Norway declare the Norwegian Colt 1911 my Dad brought home from the war a national treasure? After all...it is dated 1929, and no doubt was "stolen" by the krauts before my Dad recovered it. I suppose Dad should have notified the nearest Norwegian embassy he had their pistol.
I guess Poland is lucky this rifle seems to have been well cared for...it's owner could have been named Bubba, and he could have said to himself "this thing would be perfect if I can just Dremel it to fit my Tapco SKS folder"
That is exactly what I fear will happen, and Poland has just opened up a can of worms they may wish they didn't.

If it was truly stolen property, and not made legal by the US Government to be brought here, I would say, yes, send it back, and the poor bloke who last had it just learned a valuable lesson, and hopefully they receive no charges for receiving stolen property. However, this does not seem to be the case, and the US Government is liable for it, as they made the ruling that it was fair property, but then, to make it worse, money has been changed hands, and that money or value, somebody is going to have to pay for.

To me, to be fair about it, the US Government should pay the fair value, as they made the judgment, and collect theirs back from Germany, who Poland claims were the thieves to start with. However, if Poland wants to get snotty about it, where were they, actually, when WWII was going on, and Warsaw was made a large Jewish internment camp? They say that they fought beside us, but I can't place that much of it. They need to remember that they were invaded by Germany, their weapons seized, and lost quickly, and then were taken over by Russia, then stayed that way for a good long time. Things happen during war and things are lost, so they need to get over it.

This could also open up things about all of the legalized pirating the US did in the early years of our nation too. All it takes to get the ball rolling is a case similar to this. One would think that there would be an international statute of limitations in place in the treaties.
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Old July 7, 2013, 08:51 AM   #37
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"Even if the German's stole it, and it was recovered by someone in the US forces, our government gave written permission to that person to keep it, and formed a contract as good as a bill of sale, that made it legally theirs, and made it able to be owned or sold."

That's NOT the way it works, even under US law. Stolen property is recoverable at ANY point in the chain of possession, even if the current possessor bought it in good faith.

There is NO legal precedent for "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers," not even if you thrown in a "Neener Neener Pork and Beaner" exigent circumstance.

In other words, the old school ground rights of possession don't apply.
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Old July 7, 2013, 08:55 AM   #38
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"I find myself wondering how many "Polish National Treasures" were removed to Stalin's Russia...and how many Russia of today will send back to Poland."

As far as I know, Russia is not a signatory to the treaty that is being invoked.

Russia HAS repatriated a few items, but very likely only a miniscule amount of what they actually overran.

"will Norway declare the Norwegian Colt 1911 my Dad brought home from the war a national treasure? After all...it is dated 1929, and no doubt was "stolen" by the krauts before my Dad recovered it. I suppose Dad should have notified the nearest Norwegian embassy he had their pistol."

Or my Polish Radom?

In both cases, the answer is likely no.

In the case of your Colt, it's not a Norwegian national treasure. It wasn't designed by a Norwegian, it's not particularly rare or valuable, and after WW II the Norwegians released thousands into the surplus market.

Same with my Radom, even though it was designed by two Poles. Thousands were manufactured, to the point where the Poles eventually released them into the surplus market.

That's not the case with this rifle. It's incredibly rare.



Don't get me wrong. I really do feel for this guy in Virginia.

But, after having studied art for years, and having more than a passing familiarity with how World Wars I and II (especially WW II) resulted in nations being looted wholesale, I also understand where the Polish government is falling on this.
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Old July 7, 2013, 09:01 AM   #39
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"This could also open up things about all of the legalized pirating the US did in the early years of our nation too. All it takes to get the ball rolling is a case similar to this. One would think that there would be an international statute of limitations in place in the treaties."

You really don't have any clue about how frequently these treaties are invoked, do you?

Not long ago the United States invoked the treaty to recover numerous Indian artifacts that had been removed from tribal lands and made their way to the European markets.
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Old July 7, 2013, 10:20 AM   #40
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Mike, treaty or not, we'll just have to agree to disagree. Spoils of war are thousands of years old, and what Poland may say is stolen, Germany will say it wasn't. Germany has that right, as they ran the country after the invasion, and this was a weapon that was seized. It would be the same as anything the US took, while in the countries it has invaded, and that has been a few of them. Any country will say it was legally seized instead of stolen when it's them. Seized meaning they made it their property. The same thing goes with anything the US seized from Germany too.

The legal pirating, I mentioned, has nothing to do with native Americans, as it has to do with pirating on the high seas, that our own government allowed certain shipping companies to do from the east coast harbors. They would board ships from Britain and France, take the loot, and sell it at auction once back at the harbor in places like Baltimore, etc. The US government issued a legal license for them to do it. Now, if those countries want it back, who will they take it from, the ones who legally purchased it at the port, and then on down the line until today, or the US government?

The same goes with the travesty of the folks that found treasure down in the keys, and was forced to give back to governments who hadn't even tried to look for it beforehand, and considered it lost, plus was paid back for it already, years ago, by the insurance consortium's like Lloyd's of London.

Last, why doesn't Poland want any other weapons back, that were seized by the Germans, or Russia for that matter? It's not so much historic, truly, it's because of the worth of it, and they want it. If it has worth to them, then it has worth to the guy who legally had it, too. If it had been legally stolen, I would say send it back, but it wasn't.
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Old July 7, 2013, 10:29 AM   #41
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Things happen during war and things are lost, so they need to get over it.
It was lost, but now is found. If truly theirs, then why should they "get over it?" Would you not want your property back, especially if it had some sort of specific sentimental value? Of course you would. Would you try to get it back if there was a nice legal means to do so? Sure enough. I don't understand why some folks are faulting Poland for trying.

It very well may turn out that the collector in this case is the unwitting victim of being in possession of property for which he actually had no right to own.
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Old July 7, 2013, 11:42 AM   #42
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Double Naught Spy,

According to what has been revealed so far, the gun was brought here, legally, just as any other weapon or war trophy that was captured, and was made legal by the US Government. There is a big difference in the legality here between truly stolen, and what our own government made US property, by saying someone could legally keep an item, and claim ownership. There are too many cases of this that are too numerous to mention here. I know of several in my neighborhood.

If it was indeed, truly stolen, which would be that it was brought to the US, without the governments knowledge, then I am all for returning it. However, from everything I've read, that is not the case. As soon as our government signed off on it, they declared that weapon as someone's legal property. That is then on the back of the US Government, and not ours.

There is a big difference in stolen gold and paintings, and weapons of war. How may weapons has every country seized during a conflict, and either used, kept, or destroyed? What I'm looking at, is this backfiring on any of us who may own war relics, or own historical items that were made legal by our own government, and we citizens being left holding the bag.
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Old July 7, 2013, 12:33 PM   #43
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"spoils of war" are, by definition AND international treaty, stolen property.

"Last, why doesn't Poland want any other weapons back"

That's been more than amply explained. Try reading the Polish complaint again.

But, what it comes down to is that you'd be perfectly fine with someone kicking in your door, throwing a personal declaration of war against you on your coffee table, and taking a bunch of your stuff.

THEN I go to your next door neighbor and sell him your most prized (insert bauble here). He buys it in good faith, thinking that I legitimately own the object. The third party bought property stolen from you but all of a sudden POOF! Its provenance is now magically legitimate and you are screwed AND out of luck because what once was stolen... isn't.

Very.... curious.

Where do you live? I could use a new stove, and I have these great declarations of war that I downloaded from the internet...

As has been repeatedly explained, stolen property doesn't gain legitimate status just because it has passed through a third party's hands, someone who bought it in good faith.
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Old July 7, 2013, 01:02 PM   #44
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According to what has been revealed so far, the gun was brought here, legally, just as any other weapon or war trophy that was captured, and was made legal by the US Government.
No. According to what has been revealed so far, the provenance is unknown.

From the OP's article...

Quote:
Gasior said he bought the rifle legally in 1993 from another collector, paying $9,500 for what he considered “probably the best piece of my personal collection.”
and

Quote:
The case is not one that will be easily decided. Gasior, himself a sort-of Polish firearms expert, said his research shows the weapon was most likely issued to Polish soldiers during World War II, then taken by Germans.
In short, Gasior can't vouch for the weapon being what you consider to be a legal spoil of war. So your repeated claims that this is somehow made legal are not substantiated. Gasior as a nicely fabricated scenario with no documentation.
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Old July 7, 2013, 02:05 PM   #45
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t, what it comes down to is that you'd be perfectly fine with someone kicking in your door, throwing a personal declaration of war against you on your coffee table, and taking a bunch of your stuff
No, Mike, I never said that, but that is what has happened, and is still happening, many times, by every country, including ours, and our government got us involved in it. On my street, I know of several relics from WWII, that has the legal US documentation with it. Those same items, by what I understand, can be taken at will, by our government, and given back, even though they were made the property of someone during WWII, by our own government. Some of these items were handed down to others, and some were sold, legally, to others. So, who should the fault lie with, the people who now own them, or our own government, for saying they could have them to start with? Who should owe who, since money has changed hands? Our own government can't have it both ways, giving something to someone, legally, and then taking it back without paying its value for it, especially after it has changed hands, and or was purchased. Lets not forget how our own government declared war on drugs, kicking in peoples doors, confiscating cars, homes, etc, and putting them up on auction, and they're doing it as I write this. Some argue this is right, and some don't.

Also, this can open up plenty of doors on the liability of our government, over the things they took. Our government says legally, but the other country says illegally. Look at all we took out of Germany; all the new designs and finished jet engines, and the nuclear projects and rocket programs they had started. Wouldn't our own government be considered a thief, or is that spoils of war? What about Project Paperclip?

This is the thing, our own government got us involved in it, and now, they're going to leave the citizens left holding the bag, for what they have allowed to be done, and that's not right.

It was pointed out that there's no proof that the gun came over legally, but there's no proof that it was illegal either, and the owner says it was legal. It's up to the US Government or Poland to prove otherwise, but I will not say the owner is lying about it. However, if it was legal, as claimed, then who owes who? How can it be the fault of the owner? How does he regain his money if it was our own governments fault?
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Old July 7, 2013, 02:09 PM   #46
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Double Naught Spy,

Nobody has shown any proof that it was illegal, either, and the owner says it was legal, so who am I to judge? I go with what I know, and the rest is up to our government and Poland to decide.
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Old July 7, 2013, 02:42 PM   #47
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This is the thing, our own government got us involved in it, and now, they're going to leave the citizens left holding the bag, for what they have allowed to be done, and that's not right.
Sadly, this happens with guns with some regularity here in the US where a gun is lost or stolen, reported, changes hands behind the scenes one or more times and eventually ends up resurfacing and the current "owner" has no knowledge that the gun is stolen. He often doesn't get his money back, but if he does, it is from the person who sold it to him.

With that said, you don't know that the government has allowed anything to be done. GIs have smuggled back contraband booty and souvenirs from numerous wars.

Quote:
It was pointed out that there's no proof that the gun came over legally, but there's no proof that it was illegal either, and the owner says it was legal. It's up to the US Government or Poland to prove otherwise, but I will not say the owner is lying about it. However, if it was legal, as claimed, then who owes who? How can it be the fault of the owner? How does he regain his money if it was our own governments fault?
Of course Gaisor says it was legal, LOL. That does not mean that it is. Poland says otherwise. All Poland has to do is to say that they never sold the guns to the general public and that the gun is one of their military pieces and then you have a gun that is theirs. Germany had no right to it and if Germans took it and it was taken by an American, then the American had no right to it either.

The only fault of the current owner is being the one left holding the proverbial bag. As noted in the pattern above, he is an unwitting victim. He doesn't get his money back unless he can get it back from the seller from the 1990s when he purchased it. There are some risks in dealing with used property.
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Old July 7, 2013, 02:50 PM   #48
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That's NOT the way it works, even under US law. Stolen property is recoverable at ANY point in the chain of possession, even if the current possessor bought it in good faith.

There is NO legal precedent for "Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers," not even if you thrown in a "Neener Neener Pork and Beaner" exigent circumstance.

In other words, the old school ground rights of possession don't apply.
OK, I got this. Stolen is stolen, no matter by whom, or when, right?

But, I have to wonder, who gets to decide if a claim of stolen is valid? And, who speaks for those who are not here to speak for themselves? In some circumstances, that would be a function of governments, right?

What I'm curious about is how the principles might be applied in other situations. Not that "they aren't being applied, don't worry about it.." (today), but whether they could be...tomorrow....

first case: I recently saw a thread about a WWII bringback Luger, taken in the Phillippines from the Japanese. The gun was a Dutch contract gun, issued to their garrison in the far east, taken from them by the Japanese, and then later taken from them by us. Who "stole" if from whom?

second case:
A friend I know has actually been approached by some Japanese wanting him to return his "war trophies" to Japan, so the families can have them. Swords, flags, and such. Assume there is no official "permission" document for most of it (never required?)

To date, no hint of any "stolen property" claim, but could they?

Now, in the second case, the guy told those seeking the return that he personally took them from "(ethnic slur) that was trying to kill him", and that they would be destroyed before ... and I understand his heirs are of similar opinion...

Spoils of War are stolen property? I guess what is legitimate depends on what it is, who you are, and when?
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Old July 7, 2013, 03:53 PM   #49
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44 AMP,

Here is a quote from "Prize of War" on Wikipedia:

"Prizes of war at sea are unlikely in major modern conflicts due to changes in the way wars are fought and financed, international law and oversight, and the possibility of a prize being booby trapped. However the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 do allow for war material to be claimed as trophies of war as does US law.[2]"

Since the 1907 one was the one they were under, as it wasn't updated until 1954, the convention said:

"Article 56 of the Hague Convention of 1907,[3] stated:

"The property of municipalities, that of institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences, even when State property, shall be treated as private property.

"All seizure of, destruction or willful damage done to institutions of this character, historic monuments, works of art and science, is forbidden, and should be made the subject of legal proceedings."

Nowhere does it state anything about an instrument of war or a weapon. This is how the US got out from under Project Paperclip, plus they called it war reparations too.

Prize of war:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prize_of_war

War trophy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_trophy

Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hague_C..._1899_and_1907

Hague Convention of 1954 (PDF):

http://www.hcch.net/upload/conventions/txt02en.pdf

War Trophies, Intro to law of war, US:

http://armyintelligence.tpub.com/IS1...1805-A0017.htm

Last edited by Dixie Gunsmithing; July 7, 2013 at 03:58 PM.
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Old July 8, 2013, 03:30 AM   #50
Tejicano
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Join Date: April 4, 2013
Posts: 163
The other angle to this that I don't see discussed yet.

The "Poland" that produced this rifle was invaded by Nazi Germany and no longer existed for a number of years. During that time this rifle changed hands and disappeared.

The "Poland" which is now filing a claim is a different nation - the map is even different from the version of 1939 - so do they really have a claim?
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