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The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Looting of Hungary Hardcover – September 17, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

At the onset of World War II, a large percentage of Hungarian Jews were fully assimilated and many were staunch Magyar nationalists. For the most part, they had been spared the rabid anti-Semitism so prevalent in Germany and Poland. Once hostilities began, the Hungarian strongman, Admiral Horthy, consistently resisted the efforts of his ostensible ally, Germany, to include Hungarian Jews in the Final Solution. In 1944, however, extreme right-wingers bowed to German pressure and ousted Horthy; Jews were stripped of their property and the deportation began. Zweig, a senior lecturer in Modern Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, recounts the Hungarian Jews' sad fate with eloquence and compassion, the slow but steady erosion of their security unfolding like a prolonged nightmare. The search for their stolen riches has the elements of a first-rate thriller. This work will be a fine addition to Holocaust collections. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066209560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066209562
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,801,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book does an excellent job of sticking to the facts that are backed up by actual documentation and records. It also tries to take the emotion out of the situation and present what happened from a pragmatic perspective. It is a bit dry, but a good book for anyone that wants a good base for understanding the "Gold Train"
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Format: Paperback
I approached Ronald Zweig's "The Gold Train" with unease. Compared with the murder of 400,000 Jews in Hungary, ought we to be concerned about the minor crime of stealing their gold? It turns out, we should.

On the superficial level of historical truth, the story needed to be researched because a version is current that is largely bogus. That needs correction.

Of greater significance is the insight it provides into the antinational actions of the Hungarian extreme rightwing, and the dishonorable behavior of so many of the people who were involved in the gold after the war.

In the usual historiography of central Europe, the nationalism of the Hungarians is cited as a destabilizing factor in the decline of the Habsburg Empire. But it turns out that Hungarian extreme nationalism was qualified. There were rightists who were persuaded that Hungary must be subservient to Germany. Fear of Russia and Bolshevism were part of that, but only part. Jew-hatred played its part.

As had happened in Vienna around 1900, anti-Semitic parties had a hard time getting traction. When everybody hates Jews, a platform of Jew-hatred is not enough for electoral success. The conservative, aristocratic and anti-German elite kept the farthest right (Arrow Cross) at bay until the fighting started.

The Arrow Cross plundered the Jews, but they also plundered Hungary, sending as much of its portable economic assets to Germany as possible.

The Jews of Hungary (wholly assimilated to Magyarism except for newcomers) had been systematically plundered and excluded from economic activity since 1938, so the final looting in 1944 did not accumulate the fabulous sums that the "Gold Train" was reputed to carry.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book arrived in good shape and I have really enjoyed. Anyone who chooses to not pay attention to such a critical historical happening as the holocaust is only depriving themselves.
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Format: Hardcover
Maybe it's just me but I can't get into it. The information is there and I did not know a lot of it despite much WWII reading , but I just can't get into it.
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