31 October 2017

Economics and plunder

by Marc Masurovsky

If you ever wonder how an economic analysis of “enemy” assets conducted by the German plundering agency—Einsatzstab Reichleiter Rosenberg [ERR]—can shape and refine its targeting decisions, consider the case of:

La Société auxiliaire pour le Commerce et l’Industrie, based at 29, rue de Berri, in Paris.

The name sounds innocuous enough, most likely an investment group run by wealthy shareholders. Who might they be?

-Société anonyme d’Etudes et de Participations Industrielles et commerciales, located at the same address as the Société auxiliaire.
-Maurice de Rothschild
-Edouard de Rothschild
-Henri de Rothschild
-Societe de Rothschild Freres, 21 rue Laffitte, Paris
-Guy de Rothschild
-Estate of Raba Deutsch
-Pierre de Gunzbourg
-Estate of Arthur Weisweiller
-Georgette Deutsch
-Edouard Esmond
-Estate of Robert de Gunzbourg
-Andre Goldet.

[Source: AJ 38/402-404 Commissariat General aux Questions Juives, in RG 43.023M US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Reel 72, Washington, DC]

The ERR and the Vichy government engaged in a shameless rivalry to plunder as best as possible the above shareholders of the innocuous-sounding Societe Auxiliaire as well as thousands of other Jews whose property and assets they coveted. The Rothschild family, its members, its relatives, close and distant, its business partners and associates, its friends, were all viewed as "plunderable" by the National Socialists and their local collaborators, especially the French anti-semites in Vichy and in the Commissariat Général aux Questions Juives, the main anti-Jewish entity in charge of stripping every Jewish person on French territory of his or her property and livelihood.

Pierre de Gunzbourg and Edouard Esmond had the misfortune of living in the building requisitioned by the ERR as its headquarters in Paris, at 54, avenue d’Iena. Esmond was a special individual--a self-professed dandy, breeder and trainer of race horses and a permanent fixture at the race track and in a Rothschild tea party. His daughter, Diana Esmond, was a pioneering golf professional as well as a gifted artist. In fact, the vast majority of modern works stolen from Esmond's apartment in Paris were signed by his daughter.

At the end of WWII, Andre Goldet was the vice president of the American Joint Distribution Committee, one of the most important relief and humanitarian organizations operating in liberated territories of Western and Central Europe. Goldet also served as a senior official of the Paris-based Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU), whose assets were thoroughly plundered, including its library containing at least 20,000 volumes of Hebraica, countless art works that the AIU had agreed to safeguard in its building for concerned owners fleeing Paris in advance of the arrival of the Germans. But that’s another story…