The center of the art world before the war, Paris fired the Nazis' greed. The discovery of more than 1,500 prized paintings and drawings in a private Munich residence, as well as a recent movie about Allied attempts to recover European works of art, have brought Nazi plundering back into the headlines, but the thievery was far from being limited to works of art. From 1942 onwards, ordinary Parisian Jews-mostly poor families and recent immigrants from Eastern Europe-were robbed, not of sculptures or paintings, but of toys, saucepans, furniture, and sheets. Witnessing the Robbing of the Jews tells how this vast enterprise of plunder was implemented in the streets of Paris by analyzing images from an album of photographs found in the Federal Archives of Koblenz. Brought from Paris in 1945, the photographs were cataloged by the staff of the Munich Central Collecting Point. Beyond bearing witness to the petty acts of larceny, these images provide crucial information on how the Germans saw their work. They enable us to grasp the "Nazi gaze" and to confront the issue of the relation between greed and mass destruction.
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Number of pages: 232
Weight: 776 g
Dimensions: 254 x 254 x 20 mm
Sarah Gensburger's comments on each photograph are fascinating in light of the reproductions [...] The great value of this publication lies in providing original material on the history of the plundering, while cultivating prudence and distance in its gaze. Thus, it gives us access both to the traces of the past and to the work of the historian, who explores, supposes, deduces and sometimes lets a healthy doubt linger. -- Claire Zalc * Vingtieme Siecle. Revue d'histoire *
The album, which was kept in the German Federal Archives in Koblenz, depicts furniture and crates being loaded into trucks, as well as these images of everyday household objects, assembled in massive groups. . .Looked at this way, a photo of a room full of bedding is also an image of the erasure of Jewish homes. * Slate's "The Vault" *
[Gensburger] masterfully turns this album of photographs into a dynamic history of Nazi looting, making it essential for both scholars and teachers of Holocaust history. * German Studies Review *
The book serves as an important source for anyone interested in the Holocaust in France, looting, forced labor, or reading images as historical source. * H-France *
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