Richard Weisberg ’74
For more than 30 years, Richard H. Weisberg ’74 has been researching the legal climate in France during the Vichy regime—the period of French history in which the country went against its own history of equality by enacting roughly 200 laws that discriminated against Jewish people. “I got very curious about what happened in Vichy when my French friends refused to talk about it with me,” says Weisberg, the Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “That really provoked my interest.”
Weisberg’s fascination eventually prompted him to write a book on the topic, Vichy Law & the Holocaust in France. After it was published, a group of lawyers recruited him to assist in a class-action lawsuit against banks that illegally seized assets from Jewish families in France during World War II. “These lawyers felt that if we could get a measure of justice for those whose assets were stolen, that would be good,” says Weisberg. “And we prevailed.”
In 2001, Weisberg became part of the team that established a mechanism for ensuring restitution for banking victims. His efforts on behalf of the people of France have not gone unnoticed. Weisberg was recently named to the Legion of Honor, the highest decoration given by the French Republic for outstanding service to the country.
“I’m very touched by this; it connects to all my work on Vichy,” says Weisberg, who was presented with the award at the French ambassador’s Washington, D.C., residence in January. “It’s been a pretty full life.”