History

Transylvanian noble family countersues for nationalized forest. Again.

The successors of the late Baron János Kemény won a second legal battle and were able to reclaim part of their forests that had been nationalized by the Communist Romanian state in 1948, Hungarian news agency MTI reports.

“I always knew that we were right, but until the very last moment, I wasn’t certain that the Romanian judiciary would recognize that,” Géza Nagy-Kemény told MTI.

The family had already won a restitution legal battle for the 57-hectare (141-acre) forest at the Maros/Mureș County Court, but the county’s land management committee contested the decision, claiming that the forest was not lost to the family during the 1948 nationalization but seized by the country’s Office for the Administration and Supervision of Enemy Properties (CASBI).

Nagy-Kemény (grandson of the last owner, Baron János Kemény) added that his grandfather was never considered an enemy of the Romanian state and that even communist Prime Minister Petru Groza called him “his friend” in their correspondence.

The Kemény family inherited the Marosvécs castle and surrounding five villages from Transylvanian Prince György Rákóczi II in 1660. Its last rightful owner, Pittsburgh-born János Kemény turned the castle into a headquarters for Transylvanian Hungarian intellectuals; it hosted the meetings of the Helikon writers between the two World Wars.

The Communist state confiscated all of the baron’s properties in 1948; he then made his living as a lime burner. Baron János Kemény died in Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureș in 1971. His successors won back the legal rights to another 3,000 hectares of forest, but to this day, they have not been able to take possession of them.

Title image: Entrance of the Kemény family’s castle in Marosvécs/Brâncovenești. (Wikimedia Commons, Andor Elekes)

Author: Dénes Albert