President Clinton and the Senate’s majority leader, Bob Dole (R-Kan.) are asking German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to pay reparations to Holocaust survivor Hugo Princz.
Clinton reportedly raised the issue during a meeting with the German leader, who visited here earlier this month.
Members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation also raised Princz’s case with Kohl, handing the German the German leader a personal plea to pay Princz’s reparations.
Born in Slovakia to an American father, Princz’ status as a U.S. citizen did not protect him from Nazi concentration camps, where most of his family perished. After the war, he was rescued by U.S. soldiers and bypassed the refugee resettlement camps.
Germany has argued in American courts that Princz is not entitled to reparations because he was a U.S. citizen.
Princz,who has been waging his battle in the courts and in Congress, himself petitioned the German chancellor during his visit here. The Supreme Court recently refused to hear Princz’s case.
In a three-page letter to kohl, the survivor pledged “never to give up.” He signed the letter ” Hugo Princz Auschwitz ID Number 36707.”
Kohl told German reporters at a briefing here that he will seek a “pragmatic” solution to Princz’s case but refused to elaborate further.
Rep. Charles Schumer (D.N.Y.) and Dole said that if Germany does not respond, they will introduce legislation calling for Germany to pay Princz reparations.
The State Department has offered to mediate, and has given Germany a Friday deadline to respond.
“Despite legitimate claims and endless effort,” Germany has denied Princz reparations, Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D.N.J.) and Bill Bradley (D.N.J.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D.N.J.) wrote to Kohl.
“It is time to put this issue behind us. The best way to do that, the only way to do that is for the Federal Republic of Germany to acknowledge Mr. Princz’s tragic story and provide him with far reparations which are long overdue,” the congressmen wrote.
In his impassioned plea, Princz wrote, “I want only to be compensated in the same way that other survivors have been since the 1950s.”
He reminded Kohl that at the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz, “you stated that the `darkest and most awful chapter in German history’ was written there.”
“But that book is not yet closed as long as your country continues to wage war against me,” Princz also said.