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Altmann, a U.S. resident, filed suit in a federal district court against the Republic of Austria to recover a series of paintings that Altmann claims were wrongfully appropriated from her uncle just prior to World War II. The paintings had been held in her uncle’s Vienna home until the German annexation of Austria in 1938. Altmann’s uncle fled Austria, fearing persecution, and left half of his estate to Altmann in his will. The paintings were discovered by an Austrian journalist who alerted Altmann to the fact that her uncle’s paintings were being held by the Austrian government in its art gallery archives. The Austrian government moved to dismiss the case based on the FSIA, but Altmann contended (among other arguments) that because the Austrian government’s actions were taken prior to passage of the FSIA, they were outside the scope of the statute’s immunity protection.

1. Do sovereigns have immunity protection for actions prior to the FSIA’s enactment? 2. Is it fair to allow Austria protection under these circumstances? Why or why not?

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