Golden Harvest Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-04-30
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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It seems at first commonplace: a photograph of peasants at harvest time, after work well done, resting contentedly with their tools, behind the fruits of their labor. But when one finally notices that what seemed innocent on first view becomes horrific: the crops scattered in front of the group are skulls and bones. Where are we? Who are the people in the photograph, and what are they doing? The starting point of Jan Gross's A Golden Harvest, this haunting photograph in fact depicts a group of peasants--"diggers" atop a mountain of ashes at Treblinka, where some 800,000 Jews were gassed and cremated. The diggers are hoping to find gold and precious stones that Nazi executioners may have overlooked. The story captured in this grainy black-and-white photograph symbolizes the vast, continent-wide plunder of Jewish wealth. The seizure of Jewish assets during World War II occasionally generates widespread attention when Swiss banks are challenged to produce lists of dormant accounts, or national museums are forced to return stolen paintings. The theft of this wealth was not limited to conquering armies, leading banks, and museums, but to local populations such as those pictured in the photograph. Based upon a simple group shot, this moving book evokes the depth and range, as well as the intimacy, of the final solution.

Author Biography

Jan Tomasz Gross is Professor of History at Princeton University. He is the author of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Irena Grudzinska Gross is Associate Research Scholar in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Princeton University.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xiii
The Photographp. 3
The Need to Namep. 7
Taking Over Jewish Propertyp. 10
Photographs and Documentation of the Shoahp. 17
The Grounds of Extermination Camps Immediately After the Warp. 20
The Bonesp. 26
The Death Camps and the Local Populationp. 28
Tending One's Gardenp. 39
The Taking of Jewish Property by Ordinary Peoplep. 41
About the Killing of Jewsp. 45
The Kielce Regionp. 50
"Thick Description"p. 58
Close-Up of a Murder Scenep. 59
Human Agencyp. 64
The Peripheries of the Holocaustp. 67
Back to Photographyp. 69
Conversations About Jewish Propertyp. 74
A Certain Kind of Patriotismp. 77
Hunting for Jewsp. 80
Jews and Objectsp. 87
Schmaltzowanyep. 92
Sheltering Jews for Paymentp. 96
An Exceptional Casep. 99
New Rules and Expert's Opinionsp. 104
Where was the Catholic Church?p. 109
Hypocrite Lecteur, Mon Semblable, Mon Frèrep. 116
Afterwordp. 123
Indexp. 125
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