Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



I want to tell you an improbable story about how fifty years after the end of World War II, long-forgotten victims of not only the greatest genocide in history, but of what we learned was also the greatest theft in history, finally achieved some belated, as I call it, imperfect justice. This includes: those who placed their most precious assets in the safest banking system in Europe--in Switzerland-to keep them out of Hitler's clutches (for fifty years after the war, they were unable to recover them); those who were forced into brutal slavery and forced labor at the hands of German and Austrian employers and were never compensated (most of these, by the way, were non-Jews in Eastern Europe); those whose hard work, businesses, and apartments were confiscated and never restituted after the war; those whose insurance policies were never paid; and more broadly, those whose entire culture was stolen from them. It is a story of how some of the world's most powerful corporations were finally held accountable five decades after the end of World War II. It is a story of political intrigue, of diplomacy at the highest levels, involving our president and the heads of government of a number of European countries. It is a story of threats of sanctions by state and local authorities, and a story that involves a colorful cast of characters reminiscent of a Shakespearean play.