Potentially dangerous shipwrecks – Some facts and positions
- More than 8000 potentially dangerous shipwrecks lie at the bottom of our seas.
- Two thirds of them are from the Second World War.
- More than 1,500 of them are tankers.
- They hold up to 20 times more oil than was spilled in the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.
- The wrecks of the Second World War are the responsibility of the Nazis and their allies. All of them – those of the Axis powers and those of the Allies!
- The Nazi ships were built for one purpose only – to support the criminal activities of a criminal regime. Therefore, those who voluntarily participated in them are also liable for the consequences.
- Practically none of them are still alive.
- Many of them – individuals or even whole families, inherited “their” assets, companies, corporations.
- Their heirs have inherited not only their money and possessions but also their obligations.
- Austria had been part of Nazi Germany since March 1938.
- The Second World War broke out on September 1st 1939 with the invasion of Poland.
- That was one and a half years later.
- The victim theory, so popular in post-war Austria, has been clearly refuted.
- However, it took decades until the first official representative of the Second Republic, the Federal Chancellor at the time, Franz Vranitzky, admitted Austria’s participation and co-responsibility in the Nazi atrocities.
- In parts of the Austrian population, this has unfortunately not yet arrived to this day.
- Just as in Germany, many individuals, entire families, companies and corporations were involved in the criminal activities of the Nazis in Austria.
- Many of them, as suppliers, co-owners, service providers, etc., directly or indirectly earned a lot from the construction of the ships. They also inherited their assets and thus also their obligations and liabilities.
- Liability for (environmental) damage caused by warships is a legal grey area.
- Warships and other ships in government service have been exempted from the WRC 2007 – Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007, as a precautionary measure. In practical terms, this means that oil, ammunition and other toxic substances originating from warships, for whatever reason, may continue to pollute our oceans without anyone being held responsible, without anyone being held liable for their removal!
- Likewise, state and warships are exempted from the provisions of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) regarding marine environmental protection. (But the fundamental obligation to protect the sea is not!)
- The ownership rights to warship wrecks are a grey area. There can be
- international treaties (UNCLOS Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, salvage agreements of 1910 and 1989)
- regulations in customary international law (acquisition of rights by coastal states, loss of rights due to dereliction of rights because of the passage of time, etc.)
- regulations through general principles of law
- National regulations of the flag states
Successor in title
- An heir is the universal successor of his testator. All legal relationships, including the assets and debts, are transferred to the heir(s) on the commencement of the inheritance.
- The legal successor of Nazi Germany is the Federal Republic of Germany
- Some companies that were involved in the construction of the Nazi warships still exist today (e.g: Blohm & Voss, Lürssen, Abeking & Rasmussen, Daimler, MAN, Voestalpine, Deutsche Bank or Commerzbank)
- Many heirs of assets and property from criminal dealings with the Nazis still benefit from this today, but have not yet contributed anything to the removal of the threats from the potentially dangerous wrecks (e.g.: Krupp, Porsche, Piëch, Siemens)
- The environmental crimes committed on our seas and the environment in general have so far been excluded from the German reparation policy and the Austrian restitution. This must change!
- We all have a moral obligation to protect the environment and therefore also the seas – as Germans and Austrians in relation to the wrecks of the Second World War, in particular. Even if some people do not want this to happen – just like the obligation to the Climate Change Mitigation!