The Victim's Fortune by John Authers
Inside the Epic Battle Over the Debts of the Holocaust

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An extraordinary behind-the-scenes story of money, justice, and the fallout that remains from the twentieth century's worst crime.

In April 1996 a billionaire businessman pulled aside Hillary Rodham Clinton at a political fund-raiser in his Manhattan apartment. Handing Mrs. Clinton a magazine article on the secretive Swiss banks, Edgar Bronfman launched an emotional fight for the forgotten fortunes of the Nazis' victims. The First Lady took the bait, and with a simple call to her husband, set in motion a whirlwind of events that rewrote history and offered a last glimmer of hope to a dwindling number of elderly war survivors.

Backed by the White House, a small group of Americans embarked on an epic journey to pursue the debts owed to Holocaust victims for more than a half century. For five years they traveled from country to country and company to company, confronting those who profited from the war -- the bankers, insurers, and industrial executives who never fully acknowledged their companies' complicity in the Nazi crimes. Armed with class-action lawsuits and threats of economic sanctions, the disparate band of American lawyers, politicians, and Jewish groups fought fire with fire against some of the world's most powerful corporations and governments.

But what began as a moral crusade quickly degenerated into a bare-knuckled global battle that opened up painful debates about justice and how to achieve it. The demands for billions of dollars in restitution triggered bitter disputes over who should pay the survivors and who should receive the cash. Many Europeans dismissed the demands as blackmail.

The Victim's Fortune tells the remarkable tale of the Americans who cajoled, bullied, and squabbled their way across the world. It also reveals how Europeans first stonewalled, then nickel-and-dimed their way toward peace with the past.

John Authers and Richard Wolffe offer a spellbinding investigative account of this momentous international struggle, which has blazed a trail for future reparations settlements of every kind. It is a riveting political drama that captures the outsize personalities, ruthless tactics, and moral dilemmas surrounding the light over compensation, all unfolding against the backdrop of one of the darkest moments in human history.


About John Authers

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John Authers has been a "Financial Times" journalist since 1990, and conducted most of the research for this book in New York where he was the paper's banking correspondent from 1996 to 2001. Shortly after completing the manuscript, he moved to Mexico City where he is now the paper's bureau chief. A graduate of Oxford University, he more recently took advantage of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economic and Financial Journalism to study at Columbia University, conducting the early planning for "The Victim's Fortune" at the journalism school, and earning an MBA from the business school Before going to New York he worked in London, winning awards for coverage of investment (as the Unit Trust Association's national journalist of the year in 1992) and of education (as the Business and Technical Education Council's national newspaper journalist of the year for 1994). Prior to the FT, he did freelance work for London's "Daily Telegraph" and "Guardian, " and also worked for "Congressional Quarterly" in Washington, DC. A keen classical singer, he has performed in Carnegie Hall and in concert halls across Europe, in the choirs for soloists including Cecilia Bartoli, Luciano Pavarotti, and Bryn Terfel. He is also an enthusiastic walker, who has climbed Kilimanjaro and reached the base camps of Everest, and of K2's Concordia glacier. Authers lives in Mexico City with his fiancee Sara Silver, also a "Financial Times" journalist. Richard Wolffe is U.S. diplomatic correspondent for the "Financial Times" and deputy bureau chief in Washington, D.C. Richard L. Wolffe was born on September 17, 1968 in Birmingham, England. He graduated from Oxford University in 1992 with a degree in English and French literature. Wolffe worked for the Financial Times as a senior journalist and joined Newsweek in 2002 as a diplomatic correspondent. He was also a White House correspondent, covering the Howard Dean and John Kerry campaigns in the 2004 presidential election, plus Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. In 2009 Wolffe joined a business advisory firm, Public Strategies, in the role of Senior Strategist. He has been featured as a political analyst for MSNBC, Meet the Press, CNN, Fox News, TODAY, the BBC, and the CBC. He also appeared in HBO's documentaries on the Obama and 2000 Bush campaigns. Wolffe co-authored The Victim's Fortune and two Spanish cookbooks, and he has written for food magazines including Food Arts and Food & Wine. He is the author of Renegade: The Making of a President.
Published June 4, 2002 by Harper. 480 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, War. Non-fiction

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An audit that cost at least a billion Swiss francs revealed, just as they suspected, that the long-dormant accounts of the Holocaust’s victims had fed billions of dollars into the Swiss economy, with almost no effort having been given to finding their true owners or heirs.

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