Gold’s debut recounts her family members’ fight to reclaim a building that Nazis took from them during the Holocaust.
The place in question belonged to the Wolff family’s fur business until 1937, when it became property of the Nazi-controlled German government. After the end of World War II, the building became part of East Berlin and was claimed by the East German authorities. When the country later reunified, Gold and her family seized the opportunity to claim their property, which led to a yearslong legal process. The author blends the legal narrative—which deals with establishing the chain of ownership and determining who had inheritance rights—with a history of her secular Jewish family, which escaped to Palestine in 1933. The many family dramas keep the story from getting bogged down in complex legal terminology and include infidelities, lost wealth, and difficulties coming to terms with Jewish identities. Gold, a veteran investigative journalist, knows how to tell a compelling story, and she keeps the pages turning as she tells of the many scavenger hunts and fortuitous discoveries that led her from one clue to the next. One of the most compelling threads traces the fate of her great-uncle, who chose to stay in Germany and didn’t survive the war. Overall, this is an engaging, well-written depiction of how the Holocaust destroyed individual lives as well as families and community relationships. Although the story centers on a valuable piece of property, Gold’s measured, compassionate prose makes it clear that it’s not a tale of financial gain but one of justice and the survival of a persecuted people.
A highly readable account
of one family’s fight for personal and financial vindication.