Looted assets, slave labor, and the unfinished business of World War II By Stuart E. Eizenstat (401 Pages)Publisher: PublicAffairs, 2003
The U.S. official who spearheaded the fight to reclaim the stolen and confiscated assets of Holocaust survivors and other victims of World War II tells the inside story of that fight and how it was won.
In the second half of the 1990s, Stuart Eizenstat was perhaps the most controversial U.S. foreign policy official in Europe. His mission had nothing to do with Russia, the Middle East, Yugoslavia, or any of the other hotspots of the day. Rather, Eizenstat's mission was to provide justice albeit belated and imperfect justice for the victims of World War II. Imperfect Justice is Eizenstat's account of how the Holocaust became a political and diplomatic battleground fifty years after the war's end, as the issues of dormant bank accounts, slave labor, confiscated property, looted art, and unpaid insurance policies convulsed Europe and America. He recounts the often heated negotiations with the Swiss, the Germans, the French, the Austrians, and various Jewish organizations, showing how these moral issues, shunted aside for so long, exposed wounds that had never healed and conflicts that had never been properly resolved. Though we will all continue to reckon with the crimes of World War II for a long time to come, Eizenstat's account shows that it is still possible to take positive steps in the service of justice.