March 17, 2008 We heard from two prominent jurists reflect on one of the most important recent cases involving the Holocaust. Two United States federal judges, the Hon. Edward Korman and the Hon. Frederic Block discussed their decisions in the landmark cases involving Swiss banks charged with profiting from the confiscated property of European Jews during World War II.
Justice Edward Korman presided over the $1.25 billion settlement with the banks as well as the distribution of payment to survivors while Justice Frederic Block handed down the decision in the settlement regarding attorney fees. Although the verdict against the banks was handed down in 1998, the decisions about the distribution of funds and attorney fees were not handed down until December 2007.
Controversy surrounds these recent decisions among Holocaust survivors and others, who feel their decision does not do survivors justice. During the Q&A, pointed questions were asked of the judges by Leo Rechter, executive director of the National Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. Some survivors in attendance also expressed to the judges their disappointment in their decision. Others simply asked detailed questions about the case. This event was evenly divided between all three generations.
We thank Professor Harry Reicher of University of Pennsylvania Law School, who served as moderator.
We also thank the JCC in Manhattan for hosting us.
For more background on the case: