Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin

Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin

Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin

Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin


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Stolen Legacy is the story of how the Nazis deprived a once prominent Berlin Jewish family of a huge building—and the battle to reclaim it. Built by the author’s great grandfather in 1910, the property was the business headquarters of the H. Wolff fur company, one of the largest and most successful in Germany during the early part of the last century. The wealth generated in the “Wolff building” as it came to be known, enabled the family to live on a large estate in Wannsee, an elite suburb of Berlin.

The Nazis had other plans for the building at Krausenstrasse 17/18. In 1937 the Victoria Insurance Company foreclosed on the mortgage and transferred ownership to the Reichsbahn, Hitler’s railways, the state-owned organization that later transported millions of Jews across Europe to the death camps. The Victoria, headed then by a German businessman and lawyer with connections to the very top of the Nazi Party, is still today one of Germany’s leading insurance companies. But during the war it was part of a consortium insuring the buildings at the Auschwitz death camp.

When the Third Reich was defeated in 1945 the building lay in the Soviet sector. In 1961, when the Wall was constructed dividing Berlin, the building fell two blocks east of Checkpoint Charlie, just inside the Communist state, and beyond legal reach.

Dina Gold grew up hearing her grandmother’s tales of the glamorous life she once led, but had no paperwork at all to prove ownership of the building. When the Wall fell in 1989, Dina remembered her stories and decided to seek the truth and battle for restitution.

This book is about one family, but the message is universal. Even now thousands of victims, or their heirs, are struggling to reclaim their family’s property stolen by the Nazis. It is never too late to honor the memory of our ancestors and fight to overturn injustice.

What Others are Saying About Stolen Legacy

“Dina Gold digs deep into her history and leaves no stone unturned in her riveting account of the struggle for restitution of the property taken from her family by the Nazis. This is a meticulous and finely written account of her struggle to seek belated justice for her mother, with all the twists and turns one would expect from a fictional detective story—but it is all true.”
E. Randol Schoenberg, attorney (“Woman in Gold”)

“A testament to the human spirit”
Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat

"An exceptional adventure in Holocaust literature. Dina Gold combines investigative journalism with a keen sense of history to uncover a story everyone should read."
Marvin Kalb, Harvard professor emeritus, now senior adviser to Pulitzer Center, former network correspondent.

“Dina Gold tells the fascinating story of the uphill attempts of one family—her own – to regain the property that had been stolen from them by the Nazis. It is an amazing story.”
Walter Laqueur, historian, political commentator and author

"Dina Gold has written a crisp, page-turning nonfiction whodunit, and proves herself to be an unyielding sleuth in the pursuit of justice for her family. At the same time, it is meticulously researched journalism that provides a fresh perspective on history."
Nadine Epstein, Editor, Moment magazine

"The Holocaust was an immense act of murder. But it was also an immense act of theft. The stolen property was seized and passed on, first by the Nazis and then by governments that followed. This is the story of a single such property."
Walter Reich, Yitzhak Rabin Chair, George Washington Universityand former Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

“Her property becomes in a way the reader's property and we follow with great interest and intensity her efforts to recover not only a material legacy but the entire history of her family.”
Serge Klarsfeld, French lawyer and Nazi hunter

About the Author

Dina Gold (Washington, D.C.) is a former BBC investigative journalist and television producer. She currently serves as co chair of the Washington Jewish Film Festival and is a senior editor at Moment magazine, the largest independent Jewish magazine in North America.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781634254274
Publisher: American Bar Association
Publication date: 12/07/2016
Pages: 270
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 4.30(d)

About the Author

Dina Gold is a former London based BBC investigative journalist and television producer. She studied at the Universityof London and Oxford University, where she was the first woman to graduate from Corpus Christi College since its foundation in 1517. She moved to the USA in 2008 and now lives in Washington DC. She currently serves as co-chair of the Washington Jewish Film Festival and is a senior editor at Moment magazine, the largest independent Jewish magazine in North America.

Table of Contents

Foreword Stuart E. Eizenstat xi

Cast of Characters xv

Glossary xix

Map xxiv

The Building xxv

Prologue xxvii

Part 1

1 I've Come to Claim My Family's Building 3

2 H. Wolff 9

3 My Mother's Birth 17

4 Well-heeled Nomads 29

5 The Gathering Storm 33

6 Palestine 41

7 Entjudung (The Removal of Jews from the German Economy) 55

8 "What Would I Do Without the Luneberger Heider?" 67

9 Making Her Own Way 73

10 After the War: Love and Marriage 79

11 Those Who Survived and Those Who Did Not 87

Part 2

12 A Question of Ownership 97

13 My Life in Britain 101

14 What Had My Grandmother Once told Me? 105

5 Our Investigation Begins 109

16 Lawyers and Wills 115

17 The Smoking Gun 119

18 Proving the Line of Inheritance 129

19 The Reichsbahn's Motive 135

20 Claims and Counterclaims 139

21 Who's Who in Nazi Germany 149

22 Dr. Hamann and the Victoria Insurance Company 153

23 Back to Berlin: The Frustration Grows 159

24 The Formal Claim 165

25 Getting Their Own Back 171

26 Light at the End of the Tunnel 177

27 Negotiating a Price and Dividing the Payout 181

Part 3

28 New Archives, New Answers 189

29 New Evidence from Sachsenhausen 193

30 The Fate of Dresdener Strasse 97 197

31 Fritz's Life During the War 201

32 Exit from the Reich 211

33 Deutsche Bank 215

34 The Victoria's History 219

35 The Terrible Truth about Kurt Hamann 227

36 Coda 241

Epilogue 247

Select Bibliography 249

Acknowledgments 253

Index 257

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