American Holocaust survivor wins fight for payment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Holocaust survivor Hugo Princz has won his 40-year battle to win reparations from Germany.

Princz and 10 other Holocaust survivors will share a $2.1 million settlement signed Tuesday in Germany and announced at a Capitol Hill ceremony.

Flanked by his wife, three senators and three congressmen, an emotional Princz, 72, declared victory.

"The settlement today can never bring back my parents and siblings, nor relieve my nightmares of the death camps or the physical pain I still suffer," he said.

"But it will finally help correct a terrible injustice first committed against me over 50 years ago and compounded ever since as Germany continued to wage war against me."

Princz, the only survivor believed to be knowingly imprisoned as an American in a German death camp, had repeatedly been denied reparations.

Germany argued that Princz was not a "stateless refugee" after the war and therefore was not entitled to compensation.

When the United States declared war against Germany, Princz and seven members of his family, all American citizens, were living in Slovakia, and were turned over to the Nazis.

Princz, who later spent three years in Auschwitz, is the only member of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust.

Liberated by U.S. forces at the war's end, he was taken to a U.S. military hospital, bypassing the displaced persons camps. He was never registered as a Holocaust victim.

In July 1994, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed his suit, ruling that foreign governments cannot be sued in American courts.

Princz turned to Congress, where a bill to lift the ban on suing foreign governments fell short in the final hours of the 103rd Congress.

Meanwhile, Princz sued German companies he was forced to work for during the Holocaust, hoping that the firms would pressure their government to settle with him.

The money will be divided among the 10 survivors based on time served in concentration camps, hardships incurred and injuries sustained.

But Princz will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the current affiliates of four German companies. In exchange, Princz dropped a lawsuit against the companies seeking unspecified damages.

"The Torah says `justice, justice ye shall seek,'" Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) told reporters and Princz supporters gathered at the C

For two years others who suffered under the Nazis as American citizens will be eligible to file similar claims.

For information, contact the State Department Office of International Claims and Investment Disputes, Office of the Legal Adviser, Suite 203, South Building, 2430 E St. N.W., Department of State, Washington, DC. 20037-2800.