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Love & Treasure
What first attracted me this book was the mention of the Hungarian Jews, most of the Holocaust books I have read seemed to be of the German or Polish Jews. That this takes place after the Americans have liberated the camps was also a plus. The 42 car gold train, as it came to be known ended up in Hungary and was put into the control of the Americans and for the purpose of this story into the protection of a young American Jewish officer, named Jack Wiseman. The cars of course filled with the possessions of the Hungarian Jews sent to the camps and many to their deaths. What happened to the Jewish people that survived the camps, but no longer had any place to call home, no where to go?
This is a generational novel and though it starts with Jack and then on to his granddaughter, the storyline actually follows a peacock necklace that Jack takes from the warehouse. The story is divided into three parts, each part interesting in its own way, following history and the rightful owner of this necklace. The last part even lets us into the thought processes of an eminent psychiatrist. A story well told of guilt, love, new beginnings and forgiveness.
In the last part of the book Jack ridden with guilt over taking the necklace realizes,
"The wealth of the Jews of Hungary, of all of Europe, was to be found not in the laden boxcars of the Gold Train but in the grandmothers and mothers and daughters themselves, in the doctors and lawyers, the grain dealers and psychiatrists, the writers and artists and artists who had created a culture of sophistication, of intellectual and artistic achievement. And that wealth, everything of real value, was but all extinguished."
As with all the best novels, this one has pointed me toward further reading. In the acknowledgements, the author mentions the guidance of Ronald Zweig, and his book "The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Looting of Hungary"
I read in the Wiki, that a settlement agreement of this gold train by the United States took place on September 30, 2005. So many years later.