Survivor’s Suit Against Germany Prompts a U.S. Senate Resolution

A resolution urging the German government to pay reparations to American victims of the Holocaust has been introduced in the Senate in the wake of a case involving a 70-year-old survivor.

The resolution, introduced last week by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), asks President Clinton and Secretary of State Warren Christopher to “raise the matter with the German government” so that Holocaust victims who were U.S. citizens at the time of their capture can be compensated.

“We’re determined to move the German government off its rigid stance,” Lautenberg told reporters at a news conference last Friday. He said he expects full Senate support for the resolution.

The resolution is a response to the case of Hugo Princz, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who has not received any compensation from the German government because he is an American.

Princz, 70, brought suit against Germany for $17 million after years of unsuccessful attempts to collect a war reparations pension.

The legal battle continued last Friday in the District of Columbia Circuit Court as Germany tried to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the German government cannot be sued under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

The court’s decision, expected in the next several months, is “almost impossible to tell,” said Princz’s attorney, Steven Perles.

Anticipating a drawn-out court battle, Lautenberg authored the resolution in the hope of bringing about a quicker solution.

The senator presented a copy of the resolution to Princz last Friday, calling it “a reminder that we’re going to work together” to see that justice is done.

Princz, who lost three brothers and three sisters in the Holocaust, called the senator’s action “admirable.”

“I appreciate what you are trying to do,” Princz told him.

According to attorney Perles, the German government agreed to compensate Holocaust victims who were either German citizens or considered “stateless” at the time of their release from concentration camps.

As for victims from other nations, Perles said, Germany made deals with those governments on how to compensate former prisoners.

Germany considered Princz, a U.S. citizen at the time of his capture, to be neither a German citizen nor “stateless,” Perles said.

Princz, who resides in Highland Park, N.J., is one of only two known Jewish Holocaust survivors who were American civilians at the time of their capture, according to a statement released by Lautenberg.

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