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I was just reading about the forerunner to Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Aircraftworks, who designed and manufactured the legendary ME/BF-109 fighter).

Apparently the owner, Herr Otto, was forced to step down from his leadership of the company when it was forcibly nationalised (after some pressure on Otto to hand it over due to problems serving the Germany's need for aircraft during WWI).

In western/capitalist nations, when this has occurred during wartime, is compensation likely to be offered, or is it more often a simple case of expropriation? Are there are any international laws / conventions stating that compensation must be offered for this to be considered legal (post-war, when the action might be retroactively challenged in court)?

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I do not know what was in reality but logically a compensation should be offered, but again, logically only as an obligation to pay the full sum after the war is over. –  Anixx Apr 4 '12 at 9:53

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In the United States the "Takings Clause" of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states:

"...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

So, if the government takes land for public use (say for example a factory to be repurposed to produce tanks) they would have to pay just compensation. Just compensation has been deemed to be fair market value at the time of the taking paid in cash. See e.g. Olson v. United States, 292 U.S. 246 (1934) The process is often referred to as Eminent Domain. I should point out that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution makes the Fifth Amendment applicable to the States.

In the United Kingdom the system is referred to as "Compulsory Purchasing."

The University of Maryland has a nice discussion on takings in general.

So yes, in common law based countries in the west, like the UK, and the US, compensation is likely to be offered, in fact it is required that it is offered.

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Excellent response with sources to follow up on, many thanks! –  Nick Wiggill May 9 '12 at 16:27
    
@NickWiggill you are welcome. –  ihtkwot May 9 '12 at 17:33

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