Third Circuit Rejects Claim For “Defamation By Relation”

by:  Peter J. Gallagher (@pjsgallagher) (LinkedIn)

Defamation (pd)
Is it defamatory for a book to report that you are the child of a suspected Nazi? This was the question recently addressed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Soobzokov v. Lichtblau, an unpublished decision.

In Soobzokov, plaintiff sued the author and publisher of a book entitled, "The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler's Men." In the book, the author argued that plaintiff's father was one of several former Nazis brought to the United States after World War II for "strategic purposes."  Among other things, the book described the challenges faced by the children of alleged Nazis, including plaintiff. When writing the book, the author spent nearly seven days with plaintiff and later communicated with him via email and telephone. According to the Third Circuit, plaintiff "makes a handful of appearances in the book — all of which emphasize his unwavering belief in his father's innocence."

After the book was published, plaintiff sued for defamation. His claim took two forms. First, he alleged that three references to him in the book were defamatory: a section that described his belief in his father's innocence as "an obsession;" a section that described his "determination to revive the investigation into his father's brutal murder — which had gone unsolved for nearly 25 years;" and a mention of him in the "Acknowledgements section, which plaintiff claimed could suggest that he assisted in the writing of the book, which could "lend[] [him] to be considered a traitor to his father before the entire world." Second, plaintiff alleged that these statements, even if they were not defamatory in their own right, were defamatory when combined with the negative comments about his father. The district court rejected both aspects of plaintiff's defamation claim and dismissed the complaint. Plaintiff appealed.

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What Happened To All Those Nazi Bomb Shelters?

by:  Peter J. Gallagher

 I am sure you were all asking yourselves this very same question as you commuted into work this morning?  Fortunately, has the answer (h/t PropertyProf Blog).  In a post called Berlin's Bunkers, archdaily tells the story of what became of the more than 200 air raid shelters and flak towers that the Nazis built throughout Berlin to protect citizens and soldiers from attack.  Only about 50 bunkers remain, and are being put to interesting and creative use:

In present day Berlin, the remaining bunkers nearly blend in to the surrounding cityscape. Only one flak tower still remains, and it has been overgrown with greenery and is now part of a public park. Only about fifty of the air raid shelters are still standing, but it seems as though each is used differently. Some of these shelters are also overgrown and incorporated as public parks, while others sit empty. Other remaining bunkers continue to thrive as hauntingly chic venues for nightclubs and fashion events. Probably the most innovative use of an abandoned bunker can be found on Reinhardtstrasse in Mitte. This shelter has been converted into an art gallery on the lower floors, and on the top level is a penthouse for the owner.