Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Statement of Attorney General Eric Holder on the Passing of Former U.S. Attorney General Nicholas DeBelleville Katzenbach

The Attorney General issued the following statement today:


“Today, we mourn the loss of Nicholas Katzenbach, one of our Nation's great champions of civil rights and equal justice.  Throughout a life that spanned 90 years, he served our country in many ways – as an attorney, activist, Presidential Advisor, U.S. Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, and U.S. Army Officer.  During WWII, Second Lieutenant Katzenbach battled oppression overseas – and survived more than a year in a German prison camp – before returning home to fight for the cause of equal opportunity.  Throughout one of the most challenging and consequential eras in American history, his extraordinary talents – and dedicated leadership of the Department of Justice – helped to guide our Nation forward from the dark days of segregation and to secure the successful passage of the landmark Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts .  I am especially grateful for his work to ensure a peaceful end to the legendary “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” when – on June 11, 1963 – Deputy Attorney General Katzenbach faced down Governor George Wallace and personally assisted two African-American students, James Hood and Vivian Malone – a bright young woman who would later become my sister-in-law – in successfully integrating the University of Alabama.


“As we remember and honor his many achievements and contributions, our thoughts and prayers are with the Katzenbach family.  Although Nick Katzenbach will be sorely missed, there is much to celebrate in the life he lived, in the example he set, and in the inspiration he will continue to provide – for me, for my colleagues across the Department of Justice, and for the Nation he was so proud to serve.”

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014