US Supreme Court to Hear Two Holocaust-Related Cases on December 7th

Seventy-five years after the end of WWII, the US Supreme Court will hear two Holocaust-related cases on December 7, 2020:

Republic of Hungary v. Simon No. 18-1447:

JNS reports that this case concerns “14 Holocaust survivors—four of whom are naturalized U.S. citizens—suing the Hungarian government and the government-owned railroad for their role in transporting Jews to death camps. They are seeking restitution for the property that was confiscated by the government at that time.”

Question Presented :

May the district court abstain from exercising jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act for reasons of international comity, where former Hungarian nationals have sued the nation of Hungary to recover the value of property lost in Hungary during World War II, and where the plaintiffs made no attempt to exhaust local Hungarian remedies?


Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp, No. 19-351:

This case concerns an art collection known as the “Guelph Treasure” (or “Welfenschatz”) should be returned to the heirs of four Jewish art dealers in Germany. The collection is reported to be worth about $250 million. See also, Washington Post story.

Questions Presented

(1) Whether the “expropriation exception” of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which abrogates foreign sovereign immunity when “rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue,” provides jurisdiction over claims that a foreign sovereign has violated international human-rights law when taking property from its own national within its own borders, even though such claims do not implicate the established international law governing states’ responsibility for takings of property; and

(2) whether the doctrine of international comity is unavailable in cases against foreign sovereigns, even in cases of considerable historical and political significance to the foreign sovereign, and even when the foreign nation has a domestic framework for addressing the claims.

Both cases raise significant procedural issues that could prevent the Court from reaching the substance of the claims. These cases are a long way from the Nuremberg War Crimes trials.

The SCOTUSblog has a good summation of the two cases.

Remembering the Lessons of the Holocaust

Christopher J. Dodd served in the United States Senate from 1981 to 2011. His father, Thomas J. Dodd (1907 – 1971) also served in the United States Senate. Earlier in his career, Thomas Dodd served as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes trials. He held the number two position on the prosecutorial team which was led by Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson (1892 – 1954).1

Thomas J. Dodd, front left, executive trial counsel, and Robert Jackson, front right, chief U.S. prosecutor and associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. (Thomas J. Dodd Papers, Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries) – UConn Today

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times former Senator Dodd marks the 75th anniversary of The Nuremberg War Crimes trials and explains that the “lessons of Nuremberg must be continually relearned and that the work of protecting dignity and promoting justice are the responsibility of each generation.”

He adds that at this moment, human rights, “the rule of law and even truth itself are threatened by continuing violence, resurgent authoritarianism, racism and anti-Semitism, and rampant conspiracy theories, propaganda and disinformation.”

Dodd reminds us that we have not yet learned the lessons of the Holocaust and that we ignore these lessons at our peril.

  1. Imagine a sitting Justice of the United States Supreme Court traveling to Germany to serve as a criminal prosecutor.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial

Dedicated on September 17, 2020 in Washington, DC

The Memorial honors Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II and the 34th President of the United States. 

The Memorial is across the street from the National Air and Space Museum and is surrounded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Aviation Administration, Voice of America, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Southwest Washington.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, Washington, DC © David H. Enzel, 2020

Architect Frank Gehry designed the Memorial. Gehry was born in Toronto in 1929 as Frank Owen Goldberg. His father was born in Brooklyn to Russian Jewish parents, and his mother was a Polish Jewish immigrant.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, Washington, DC © David H. Enzel, 2020

Gehry’s design features three bronze statues of Eisenhower by the Russian-born sculptor Sergey Eylanbekov , one featuring General Eisenhower with troops from the 101st Airborne the day before the invasion of Normandy, another sculpture depicting President Eisenhower in the White House surrounded by civilian and military advisors, and a third portraying “Little Ike” in his boyhood.

The Memorial highlights passages from notable Eisenhower addresses. Framing the entire memorial is a stainless steel woven tapestry by artist Tomas Osinski , who was born in Poland. The tapestry depicts the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc on the Normandy coastline. Pointe du Hoc was the highest point between the American sector landings at Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. On D-Day, the United States Army Ranger Assault Group attacked and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs.

The Memorial was dedicated on September 17, 2020.

Eisenhower Memorial Under Construction (2018)
Eisenhower Memorial Album by David Enzel on Flickr.

Meet the Artists

Gross Debt – Selected Countries

Japan has a high debt; Russia has low debt.

CountryGross Debt
as a % of GDP
Japan266
Italy162
United States131
France119
Canada115
United Kingdom108
Germany73
China (PRC)62
Switzerland49
Russian Federation19

SourceIMF October 2020

‘Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations’

Tales from an American Hero

Retired Admiral William H. McRaven was involved in high profile special operations missions, including the capture of Saddam Hussein, the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, and the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. 

Admiral McRaven narrates his audiobook entitled Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations skillfully. I felt as though I was sitting in my living room hearing a brave, articulate person tell tales that made me feel proud to be an American. This is among the best audiobooks in my library.

You can get a sense of the author in this podcast.

Helen Reddy (1941 – 2020)

Singer Helen Reddy, who was born in Australia in 1941, died in Los Angeles on September 29, 2020 at the age of 78.

I loved her music. Her first hit was a 1971 cover of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” from the award-winning stage show “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Her trademark song — “I Am Woman,” — came a year later. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1972. Reddy was the first Australian-born artist to win a Grammy and the first to make the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Reddy did not have an easy life. She had a kidney removed at 17 and lived with Addison’s disease.

May her soul rest in peace.

New York Times Obituary

Guardian Obituary