Martin Mendelsohn '63
Martin Mendelsohn '63 has a distinguished 45-year career as an international attorney specializing in trade and commercial affairs between the United States and the emerging economies of post-Soviet Europe. He is a recognized expert and authority on international law, particularly as it pertains to crimes against humanity. Mendelsohn has been cited by The New York Times and has appeared as a guest on Nightline, NBC Nightly News, Nightwatch, the BBC and CNN. He frequently lectures at universities and colleges in the United States and abroad.
Mendelsohn earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Brooklyn College and received his law degree from George Washington University Law School.
In 1977, while working for the U.S. Department of Justice, Mendelsohn created an Office of Special Investigations unit whose purpose was to find and prosecute Nazi war criminals. He was also a staunch advocate for Holocaust survivors, assisting them, pro bono, with their claims against Swiss banks as well as Austrian and German corporations. Mendelsohn was appointed by President Bill Clinton to represent the United States as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Austrian Reconciliation Fund. During his five years of service, the fund disbursed more than €532 million to former slave and forced laborers in World War II.
Mendelsohn received the Hero in Law Award from the Bar Association of the District of Columbia in 1999, the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 2000, and the Grand Decoration of Honor for service to the Austrian Republic in 2002. In 2009, he received the Pursuit of Justice Award from the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists at the U.S. Supreme Court. He was also named an Advocate for Justice by the Olender Foundation.
Mendelsohn and his wife, Syma '64, are the benefactors of the Martin and Syma Mendelsohn Lectureship in International Relations, which brings ambassadors from around the world to Brooklyn College in order to educate and engage our student body.
In recognition of his many outstanding professional contributions and achievements, his pursuit of justice, and loyalty to his alma mater, Brooklyn College honors Martin Mendelsohn with the Presidential Medal.