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Nazi action against Jewish fashion shops

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I write from Germany as a journalist, broadcaster and author with experience of some 85 pending restitution cases involving Jewish property and businesses within the Berlin fashion industry. Dina Gold’s book hits exactly the right note. I wholeheartedly endorse Michael Pinto-Duschinsky’s excellent article “Holocaust Survivors Are Still Waiting For Justice” (March/April edition) and what he described as “everyday denial of their Nazi past and obstruction by some German corporations”. Actually it is, according to my experience, much worse than that. Although freedom of information exists and former East German archives are now open and available to the public, many new hurdles have been established for those seeking restitution and compensation. Data protection is a major stumbling block. Even Nazi confiscation documents of Jewish property issued between 1933 -1944 by German officials, insurers and banks are difficult to obtain. Another problem is that a new generation, those aged 30 – 45, who are only too well aware of the Holocaust are, nevertheless, more than happy to make use of the trade names of Nazi-era confiscated Jewish companies. Indeed, they now use these names for their own, newly established, businesses in the heart of the Berlin fashion industry. And thus, a fresh “cartel of silence” has been created by the next generation of Germans. At the same time, textile producer associations, the Victoria insurance company (which foreclosed on so many Jewish buildings during the Third Reich, including that of Dina Gold’s family), the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, university departments of history and fashion, even fashion companies themselves all deny, ignore and lie about the long lost tradition of Jewish entrepreneurship in the German fashion industry since 1836. Dina Gold’s book makes a decisive move toward bringing the issue of restitution and compensation into the 21st century.