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'Robbing the Jews: The Confiscation of Jewish Property in the Holocaust, 1933–1945'

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Robbing the Jews: The Confiscation of Jewish Property in the Holocaust, 1933–1945


Martin Dean


November 2008


Published by Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-88825-7, the book is described by them below:

Robbing the Jews reveals the mechanisms by which the Nazis and their allies confiscated Jewish property, demonstrating the close relationship between robbery and the Holocaust. The spoliation evolved in intensifying steps. The Anschluss and Kristallnacht in 1938 reveal a dynamic tension between pressure from below and state-directed measures. In Western Europe the economic persecution of the Jews took the form of legal decrees and administrative measures. In Eastern Europe authoritarian governments adopted the Nazi program that excluded Jews from the economy and seized their property, based on indigenous antisemitism and plans for ethnically homogenous nation states. In the occupied East, property was collected at the killing sites – the most valuable objects were sent to Berlin, items of lesser value supported the local administration and rewarded collaborators. At several key junctures robbery acted as a catalyst for genocide, accelerating the progression from pogrom to mass murder.


Part I. Economic Persecution inside the Third Reich, 1933–1941: 1. The Nazis' initial confiscation measures; 2. Mounting obstacles to Jewish emigration, 1933–1939; 3. The Anschluss and Kristallnacht: accelerating aryanization and confiscation in Austria and Germany, 1938–1939; 4. Blocking Jewish accounts and preparations for mass confiscation, 1939–1941; Part II. Jewish Property and the European Holocaust, 1939–1945: 5. Destruction and plunder in the occupied east: Poland, the Soviet Union, and Serbia; 6. Settling accounts in the wake of the deportations; 7. 'Plunder by decree': the confiscation of Jewish property in German-occupied Western Europe; 8. Sovereign imitations: confiscations by states allied to Nazi Germany; 9. Receiving stolen property: neutral states and private companies; 10. Seizure of property and the social dynamics of the Holocaust.

Prize Winner

Winner, The JDC-Herbert Katzki Award for Writing Based on Archival Material 2008 Jewish Book Awards 


“Martin Dean’s book is the first fully comprehensive study on the confiscation of Jewish property in the Holocaust and will set the standard for future research and analysis. In the complicated field of robbing and spoliation it connects important archival findings with a masterly knowledge of even remote research literature, cogently integrating the process of confiscation into the general history of the Holocaust. Therefore I warmly recommend Dean’s study as a compulsory work for scholars, students, and all readers interested in the field of Holocaust history.” -Frank Bajohr, Research Center for Contemporary History in Hamburg, Germany

“This book is surely the most comprehensive and clear guide in English to the manifold ways by which the Nazi regime, its agents, and its allies plundered the European Jews. Not only an admirable overview, but also a depressing case study in the crushing effects of bureaucratic ingenuity.” -Peter Hayes, Northwestern University

“Few, if any scholars in the English-speaking world, can equal Martin Dean’s record of intense study of the most appalling primary sources generated by the most thorough and most minutely recorded genocide in human history. It was, after all, a very German genocide and hence murder by bureaucratic machinery also involved the greatest theft in human history. Dean looks at all the ways that the German state stole Jewish property and shows the importance of hitherto neglected ones. Blocking the use of a person’s bank account and limiting withdrawals slowly squeezed the individual’s ability to act and ultimately to live at all. The horrible stories of pauperization and humiliation of the Jews under the Nazis make almost unbearable reading precisely because they are so real, so ordinary, and so terrible.” -Jonathan Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania."

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