During the occupation of defeated Germany in 1945 the allied forces, including those of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union, seized and occupied thousands of private homes and other private property. A typical example of this was the private home of General Gerd Rundstedt in Kassel, which American troops seized, occupied and looted. This was just one of thousands of such homes that American troops treated the same way, the house of Rommel being another example. In Rommel's case, his wife was expelled from the house by soldiers and it was turned over to French-African soldiers who looted it.

Was this type of property eventually returned to the original owners of the homes after the founding of the Republic of Germany? I would be interested also specifically in whether the Rundstedts ever got their home back.

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    Liddel Hart led a group raising funds to provide nursing care for Rundstedt and his wife; from which the likely assumption is that their home was never returned. Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 0:20

2 Answers 2


When American occupation forces after the war began to bring their families with them for three or more years of duty, there was no "base" or "post" housing at the time. Civilian neighborhoods, usually in the suburbs that were undamaged by wartime bombing were selected for American housing. Army officials with a German translator would knock on the door and tell the residents they had a couple days to pack up and leave. Paperwork would be given them and the US Army did pay them rent. But they had to leave and go where ever they could find another place, usually with relatives or friends in the inner city or countryside.

And then the American families moved in. Army contracted maintenance teams kept up the homes and utilities. This continued through the 1950's. By the late 1950's German requisitioned homes were gradually all returned as US military housing centers were built in conjunction with and near to DOD American schools, BX's and commissaries. Most new American housing were apartments up to four bedrooms for large families, all on one floor. Some senior officers had duplexes and the most senior and local commander had a single family house.

And the German community rebuilt their downtowns and their neighborhoods. Requisitioned homes were all returned, I believe, by the early 1960's. The owners moved back in and in most cases did remodeling and modernizing. Many of these homes built at the turn of the century remain today in this new century.

That some German people lost their homes to US families in the late 40's and 50's seems harsh, but they did receive compensation in an amount that they then could not earn themselves in immediate postwar Germany. And this compensation collectively contributed significantly to the rebuilding of the German postwar economy. Also the spending of American families was even a greater contributor to the rebuilding of the economy.

As a school age child, I lived in a requisitioned house for a few years in a nice wooded area on the edge of Wiesbaden. My father was stationed there in the mid 1950's. I recall a knock at the door one Sunday afternoon. My father answered and an older, taller gentleman, apologetically introduced himself as the owner of the house and wondered if you could have permission of see the fruit trees in the back yard he had planted many years earlier. Technically this was in violation of occupation rules and codes, but my father was sympathetic and welcomed him to see his house and his yard. The man broke into tears when he viewed a cherry tree in the back full of ripening fruit. Dad then sent us kids up the tree to pick a basket of cherries to give to this visitor/owner.

The owner was grateful for the gift and was complimentary of the Americans taking care of the house and upgrading some plumbing, electrics, and the heating system which I recall was coal fired. Another civilian contractor would show up each morning to shovel coal into the fire pit to heat the boiler for our heat and hot water. And again my parents were friendly towards this person and would give him gifts or leftover food and pastry, then well received.

The German people of the 1930's supported and put Hitler in power. They supported his war and the deportation and killing of the Jews. These basic facts remains hard to understand to this day. But post war Germany seemed repentant; and a different and better Germany evolved to today. As kid living there in the 1950's I only experienced good Germans though they were a part of the war. As an adult visitor in the 2010's the current generation are good and different people and know very little of World War 2.

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    What is the source for the initial quote ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 13:45
  • There are several things quite wrong with that last paragraph. No more did "the German people" support the deportation and killing of the Jews than "the Russians" support the Ukranian war. Some did, some didn't, but most of all many were so disinformed that they could not make an educated decision either way. There being "only good Germans" in the 1950's was mostly because those who were involved and did profit from the Nazi rule wanted those things to be forgotten if they could help it. And I'd daresay the German people today know more about WWII than any non-historian...
    – DevSolar
    Commented May 23, 2022 at 9:27

I'm not sure about the Western Allies. I assume that whatever property the Allies confiscated from "war criminals" remained under military control and was never returned. I'm not sure about any other property that was seized in the west.


Rundstedt was now a free man after four years in custody, but it brought him little joy. He was 73, frail and in poor health. He had no home, no money and no income. The family home in Kassel had been requisitioned by the Americans, and the Rundstedt estate in Saxony-Anhalt was in the Soviet Zone and had been confiscated. His wife was living in Solz, but this was in the American Zone, where he could not travel because the Americans (who were displeased by the British decision to release him) still regarded him as a Class 1 war criminal under the denazification laws then in force. Likewise, his money, in a bank account in Kassel, was frozen because of his classification, which also denied him a military pension. The British had assured him that he would not be arrested or extradited if he stayed in the British Zone, but the Americans had made no such guarantee. “It is an awful situation for me and my poor wife,“ he wrote to Liddell Hart. “I would like to end this life as soon as possible.”

After reunification, the German government distributed whatever GDR confiscated property it possessed back to its original owners or their descendants. Many people became homeless as they were kicked out of their apartment. Some resisted violently or killed themselves.

You can read about it here:


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    "war criminals". Nice sneer quotes there.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 11:29
  • The Allied generals who supported strategic bombing performed much worse atrocities.
    – D J Sims
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 11:32
  • @DJSims : even if the subjective "much worse" evaluation were true, the crimes of someone is no excuse for the crimes of someone else. yourlogicalfallacyis.com/tu-quoque
    – Evargalo
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 13:51

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