The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Looting of Hungary

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9780060935122: The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Looting of Hungary

In 1944, the great "Gold Train" headed west from Budapest, carrying gems, cash, furs, carpets, wedding rings, and even gold teeth -- all possessions stripped from Hungarian Jews before their murder. The Gold Train took on a legendary quality even as it steamed out of the station -- hundreds of millions of dollars in assets were on the move, accompanied by cunning, desperate, or gullible passengers trying to reach an illusory Nazi stronghold in the Alps.

Drawing on a decade's worth of research into American, Israeli, and European archives, as well as private papers, eyewitness accounts, and other sources, Ronald Zweig tells the full story of the Gold Train. He introduces us to the large cast of players enmeshed in the drama, examines the myths that have developed around the journey, and places this incredible event within the annals of Holocaust and Cold War history, including its impact on restitution policies from the postwar years to today.

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About the Author:

Ronald W. Zweig is a senior lecturer in modern Jewish history at Tel Aviv University. For eighteen years he was editor of the Journal of Israeli History, and is a member of the Historical Advisory Panel on Holocaust Era Records to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The author of two books, Britain and Palestine During the Second World War and German Reparations and the Jewish World, he lives in Jerusalem.

From Publishers Weekly:

The fabulous "gold train" of Budapest, filled with treasures stolen from Hungarian Jews, has long been a legend of WWII. More recently, it's been the subject of several lawsuits filed by concentration camp survivors. But the real history of the gold train has remained obscure, a situation Zweig corrects in this precise and sober-minded study. In late 1944, Zweig writes, as the Russian army was approaching Budapest, the Hungarian government (a puppet Nazi state) decided to evacuate the loot it had confiscated from its Jewish citizens. The treasure, worth approximately $50 million-$120 million in 1944 dollars, was secretly loaded onto a train and sent on a tortured four-month odyssey westward from the capital. At various points, the treasure was hidden in a castle, a bathhouse and in deep coal mines. In mid-1945, the train was captured by Allied troops, but the drama, Zweig shows, was only beginning. For years, the fate of the gold was subject to the political maneuverings and bickering of the Allies. Eventually, the U.S. gave its portion to Jewish relief organizations, which then transferred much of the funds to the Zionist movement in Palestine; the French returned its portion to the Hungarian government. Almost none of the surviving Jews who lost their property ever saw it returned. Zweig, a historian at Tel Aviv University, does an admirable job of untangling a complicated story and sorting fact from fiction in this fascinating subplot in the vast, tragic narrative of
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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