Michael Stuart Bernstein served as Assistant Deputy Director of the Criminal Division’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), which was established in 1979 to identify, investigate and take legal action against participants in World War II-era acts of Nazi-sponsored persecution.
On December 21, 1988, he was one of 270 people killed as a result of the terrorist bombing of Pan American World Airways Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Mr. Bernstein was returning from Vienna, Austria, where he had concluded successful negotiations with the Austrian government to have Austria accept the return of certain participants in Nazi persecution, including former Auschwitz Concentration Camp SS guard Josef Eckert, who were ordered deported from the United States. Mr. Bernstein was survived by his wife and two young children.
Mr. Bernstein began his service with OSI in 1985 as a trial attorney. In 1988, he was appointed Assistant Deputy Director of the Office. Prior to government service, from 1979 to 1985, he was an associate with the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. A native of New York, Mr. Bernstein graduated from the University of Michigan in 1973. He received a master’s degree in American History from Johns Hopkins University in 1975. He graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law in 1979.
In a memorial notice in The New York Times, Mr. Bernstein’s colleagues at OSI praised him as a “lawyer’s lawyer, whose clarity of purpose, intellectual gifts, sound and ethical judgment, exceptional wit, and boundless compassion and good will earned him a place of deep affection and respect in the hearts of all who were privileged to know him.”
On April 7, 1989, just over three months after he was killed, Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and Assistant Attorney General Edward S.G. Dennis, Jr., named the Criminal Division library (which was located in the Bond Building) in Mr. Bernstein’s memory.