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GUESSEFELDT V. MCGRATH, 342 U. S. 308 (1952)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Guessefeldt v. McGrath, 342 U.S. 308 (1952)

Guessefeldt v. McGrath

No. 204

Argued November 29, 1951

Decided January 28, 1952

342 U.S. 308


Petitioner sued under § 9(a) of the Trading with the Enemy Act, as amended, to recover property vested by the Alien Property Custodian. He alleged that he is a German citizen who had lived continuously in Hawaii from 1896 to 1938. In April, 1938, he took his family to Germany for a vacation. After the outbreak of war, he was unable to secure passage home before March, 1940, when his reentry permit expired. When the United States entered the war, he was detained involuntarily in Germany, first by the Germans and later by the Russians, until July, 1949, when he returned to this country. He had done nothing directly or indirectly to aid the war effort of the enemy.


1. Petitioner was not "resident within" Germany within the meaning of the definition of "enemy" in § 2 and, therefore, was "not an enemy" within the meaning of § 9(a), authorizing a suit by any person "not an enemy" to recover property vested by the Alien Property Custodian. Pp. 342 U. S. 311-312.

2. Properly construed in the light of its purposes, its legislative history, and the constitutional issues which otherwise would be raised, § 39, forbidding the return of property of any "national" of Germany or Japan vested in the Government at any time after December 17, 1941, applies only to those German and Japanese nationals otherwise ineligible to bring suit under § 9(a). Pp. 342 U. S. 312-320.

The District Court dismissed petitioner's suit under § 9(a) of the Trading with the Enemy Act, as amended, 50 U.S.C.App. § 1 et seq., to recover property vested by the Alien Property Custodian. 89 F.Supp. 344. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 88 U.S.App.D.C. 383, 191 F.2d 639. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 810. Reversed, p. 342 U. S. 320. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 342 U. S. 309

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