Collection 1136 - Robert I. White Papers

Identity elements

Reference code

TxAM-CRS 1136

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Collection

Title

Robert I. White Papers

Date(s)

  • 1907-2004 (Creation)

Extent

24.10 Cubic Feet

Name of creator

Biographical history

Robert I. White is a former attorney who has specialized in federal tax litigation since 1959. After working in private practice in New Orleans from 1958-1959, he began work as a trial attorney in both Houston and Dallas for the Internal Revenue Service, Chief Counsel’s Office. In 1963 he left the IRS and went to work until 1966 for the United States Department of Justice’s Tax Division in Washington, DC.  In 1966 he returned to Texas and joined the Houston firm of Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Martin, where he remains a shareholder.

White graduated from Tulane University with a B.B.A in 1953. He received his law degree from the Tulane School of Law in 1958 and obtained an L.L.M. from Southern Methodist University in 1966. In addition, he served for three years in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Robert I. White Papers are almost entirely concerned with a set of court cases whose background and context began life in early 20 thcentury Europe, where a penniless amateur artist named Adolf Hitler honed his art skills as well as his political magnetism and influence. They then move through Hitler’s rise to national power and his tyrannical grip over Germany, which ended after an unimaginably brutal war and the liberation of Europe’s suffering peoples by Allied armies in 1945. The scene then shifts to the United States, to which four watercolors painted by Hitler and a valuable archive of photographs taken by one of his few friends, Heinrich Hoffmann, were removed by the U.S. Army to the victorious United States as seized spoils of war.

In Texas a man named Billy F. Price, interested in Hitler’s artistic life and career, then joins forces with the wife and children of Hitler’s friend to have the seized materials returned to them, claiming that the U.S. government acted illegally. Robert I. White, of Houston, was Price’s lawyer in the resulting litigation. The case – which evolved into a number of separate actions - spent over 20 years meandering through different federal courts from Texas to Washington, DC before Price and his fellow litigants were finally turned down in their final appeal by the Supreme Court in 2009.

The White Papers chronicle the journey of Price and the Hoffmann heirs’ case from its beginnings in 1982, when the plaintiffs first requested the return of the Hitler watercolors from U.S. Army custody, to 2004. They consist primarily of the legal documentation generated for and by the lawsuit, including briefs, depositions, exhibits, motions, pleadings, orders, and writs. Also included are files of supporting correspondence. Audio-visual materials in the collection include audiotapes of phone conversations and witness depositions, videotapes of witness dispositions, and photographs.

The collection is divided into series based around the individual numbered cases. An additional sub-series, Series IIIA, consists of specific physical exhibits that were used in the initial case, Civil Action H-82-3712.  Note that documents recur in multiple series, because they were used as pieces of evidence or sources of background information for different cases.

One box of materials contains bound volumes of White's legal and other notes made durng his undergraduate and law school education.

System of arrangement

The collection is divided primarily into series based around the individual numbered cases. An additional sub-series, Series 3A, consists of specific physical exhibits that were used in the initial case, Civil Action H-82-3712.

Series Listing and Description

Series 1: File # 77-247-08 [File # Assigned by Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Johnson & Williams], 1982-1996

A case file put together by White’s law firm, which documents the case from its 1982 beginnings through 1996.

 

Series 2: Tort Claims, 1963, 1983

The initial administrative claims filed by Price, et.al. against the U.S. Army and the General Services Administration (then the parent agency of the National Archives) for the return of the Hitler watercolors and Hoffmann photographs in its possession.

 

Series 3: Civil Action H-82-3712 [U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Div.], undated, 1983-1984

In re: The Petition of Billy F. Price and Henriette von Schirach, geb. Hoffmann, To Perpetuate the Testimony of Henriette von Schirach, geb. Hoffmann, Heinrich Hoffmann, Anna Maria Schenck, Erna Hoffmann, Dr. Eugen Dollmann, Christine Schroeder, Dr. Heinrich Heim, Fritz Wieshofer, and Dr. August Priesack.

The first case filed in the series of Price/Hoffmann lawsuits against the U.S. Government.

 

Series 3A: Physical Exhibits for Civil Action H-82-3712 [U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Div.], undated,1914-1917, 1936, 1940, 1945?, 1960, 1970, 1982

Contained in Boxes 20-21 and Exhibits Folder 1.

 

Series 4: Civil Action H-83-4969 [U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Div.], undated, 1917-1998

Billy F. Price, Henriette Hoffmann von Schirach, Heinrich Hoffmann, Jr., Heidemarie Kruger, and Susanne Hustadt vs. the United States of America

The second case filed, consolidated in March 1984 with H-82-3712.

 

Series 5: Consolidated Civil Action H-82-3712/H-83-4969 [U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Div.], undated, 1982-1984, 1989

Billy F. Price, et.al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, Cross-Appellants vs. United States of America. In re: The Petition of Billy F. Price and Henriette von Schirach, geb. Hoffmann, et.al., to Perpetuate the Testimony of Henriette von Schirach, geb. Hoffmann, et.al.

The consolidated case. Case dismissed in November 1995.

 

Series 6: 83-2042 [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit], 1982-1983

United States of America, Appellant vs. Billy F. Price, et.al., Appellees. In re: the Petition of Billy F. Price and Henriette von Schirach, geb. Hoffmann. To Perpetuate the Testimony of Henriette von Schirach, geb. Hoffmann, et al.

An appeal by the U.S. Government against the District Court’s decision for the plaintiffs in H-82-3712.

 

Series 7: Civil Action H-84-612 [U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Div.], undated, 1938-1984

Billy F. Price vs. Time-Life, Incorporated.

Price’s suit against Time-Life for damages suffered and recovery of stolen Hoffmann photographs. Claims retracted by plaintiffs in 1999 and case settled.

 

Series 8: Civil Action H-89-815 [U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Div.], undated, 1907-2003

Billy F. Price, Estate of Henriette von Schirach, Klaus von Schirach, executor, Robert H. Hoffmann, Heidemarie Kruger, and Susanne Hustadt vs. United States of America.

Case filed in order to preserve plaintiff’s claims in case the District Court, Southern District of Texas lacked jurisdiction over claims made in H-83-4969. Case was consolidated in October 1997 with H-97-453 and thereafter closed in March 1998 and sent to U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. (as CA #98-057 (HHK) ).

 

Series 9: #93-1480/93-1532 [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit], 1993

Billy F. Price, Robert H. Hoffmann, Heidemarie Kruger, Susan Hustadt, Estate of Henriette von Schirach, Dr. Klaus von Schirach, executor, and Heinrich Hoffmann, Jr., vs. United States of America.

Cases dismissed in 1993 because defendant successfully argued that jurisdiction for the cases lay with the Fifth Circuit.

 

Series 10: #93-2564 [United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit], undated, 1945-1995

Billy F. Price, Robert H. Hoffmann, Heidemarie Kruger, Susanne Hustadt, and Estate of Henriette von Schirach vs. United States of America.

Case appealed on new grounds from judgment granted by the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas in H-83-4969. Appeal dismissed in November 1995.

 

Series 11: #96-21037 [United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit], 1996

In re: United States of American, petitioner.

Government petitioned the Court to dismiss Price as a plaintiff, vacate order permitting plaintiffs to engage in discovery, and dismiss the case outright for lack of proper venue or transfer it to the District Court for the District of Columbia.

 

Series 12: 1996 Foreign Tort Claims Act Claims, 1945-1997

Administrative claims filed by Price and his fellow plaintiffs against the U.S. Army under the Foreign Tort Claims Act.

 

Series 13: Civil Action #H-97-453 [U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Div.], 1997-1998

Billy F. Price, Estate of Henriette Hoffmann von Schirach, Klaus von Schirach, Executor, Robert H. Hoffmann, Heidemarie Kruger, and Susanne Hustadt vs. United States of America.

Case was consolidated with H-89-815 in October 1997. Price was dismissed from the case as a plaintiff, and the case and all records were transferred in March 1998 to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as CA #98-857 (HHK).

 

Series 14: Civil Action #98-857 (HHK) [U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia], undated, 1907-2003

Robert H. Hoffmann, Susanne Hustadt, Klaus von Schirach, and Heidemarie Kruger vs. United States of America.

Court found for defendants, and plaintiffs’ claims dismissed.

 

Series 15: #99-21084 [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit], 1983-2000

Billy F. Price vs. United States of America.

Appeal by Price against the decision made in #H-97-453 to remove him as a plaintiff. Appeal was dismissed.

 

Series 16: #99-5376 [U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit], 1990-2002

Robert H. Hoffmann, et.al. vs. United States of America.

Appeal by plaintiffs from decision reached in #98-957 (HHK). Appeal was denied.

 

Series 17: #00-1131 [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit], undated, 1907-2002

Robert H. Hoffmann, et.al., vs. United States of America.

Appeal by plaintiffs from decision reached in #98-857 (HHK). Appeal was denied.

 

Series 18: #01-1111 [United States Supreme Court], 2002

Robert H. Hoffmann, Heidemarie Kruger, Susanne Hustadt, Estate of Henriette Hoffmann von Schirach, Klaus von Schirach, Executor, and Billy F. Price vs. United States of America

Petition by plaintiffs to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari for the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit against decision reached in #99-21084. Petition was denied.

 

Series 19: #01-1131 [United States Supreme Court], 2001-2002

Robert H. Hoffmann, Heidemarie Kruger, Susanne Hustadt, Estate of Henriette Hoffmann von Schirach, Klaus von Schirach, Executor, and Billy F. Price vs. United States of America.

Petition by plaintiffs to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Petition was denied.

 

Series 20: #03-1596 [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit], undated, 1907-2004

Robert H. Hoffmann, Heidemarie Kruger, Estate of Henirette Hoffmann von Schirach, Klaus von Schirach, Executor, and Susanne Hustadt vs. United States of America.

Appeal by plaintiffs from decision reached in #98-857 (HHK) based on errors made by the District Court for the District of Columbia. Appeal was denied

 

Series 21: #04-425 [United States Supreme Court], 2004

Robert H. Hoffmann, Heidemarie Kruger, and the Estate of Heinriette Hoffmann von Schirach, Klaus von Schirach, Executor, vs. United States of America.

Petition by plaintiffs to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit against decision reached in #03-1596. Petition was denied.

 

Series 22: Miscellaneous Subjects, undated, 1941-1989

Series 23: Audiovisual Materials, undated, 1983-1984

Series 24: Additional Materials, 1958-1966, 1970,1983

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Physical access

These materials are stored offsite and require additional time for retrieval.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Languages of the material

  • English
  • German

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Gift of Robert I. White.

Accruals

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Notes element

General note

Voyager # 4046337

Specialized notes

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Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Authors: Jeremy Brett.

Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 Agronomy Road. All rights reserved.

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