Court rejects Holocaust survivors’ claims against Hungary

McClatchy Washington BureauMay 9, 2014 

A federal judge on Friday, while voicing sympathy, rejected Holocaust survivors’ claims against Hungary.

In an unusually lengthy, 97-page decision, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell laid out the Holocaust victims’ case before concluding she was powerless to help.

“There is no doubt that the plaintiffs were wronged, atrociously so, and that they believe Defendant Hungary, assisted by its railway, has not atoned adequately for its genocidal actions,” Howell wrote. “Nevertheless, there are limits to the reach of the United States courts to provide redress where the Constitution and relevant laws and treaties say otherwise.”

Fourteen survivors, including four living in the United States, filed in 2010 what they envisioned as a class-action lawsuit against Hungary and the country’s national railroad. The railroad was central to the slaughter, as in less than two months in 1944, over 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, mostly to Auschwitz, in 147 trains.

In brief, Howell concluded that the Hungary defendants were immune from a U.S. lawsuit, A U.S. judge, she said, was not in a position to “adjudicate claims arising overseas decades ago from the Holocaust and, in that context, to assess the sufficiency of foreign sovereign’s efforts to redress those horrors.”

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