While the history of the Second World War and Jewish persecution in France has been widely studied, the return of survivors in the aftermath of deportation and genocide has not received sufficient attention. With Stealing Home: Looting, Restitution, and Reconstructing Jewish Lives in France, 1942-1947
(Oxford University Press, 2017), Shannon Fogg,
Professor and Chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Missouri S&T, fills this void. Drawing from government archives, Jewish associational files, as well as victim accounts and testimonies, Fogg pulls the reader into complex and dynamic history of destruction, dispossession and recovery. She reveals the great extent to which French authorities and civilians participated in looting and spoliation. Moreover, Fogg works against the commonly accepted narrative that Jews were passive victims to destruction who silently returned to the remaining tatters of their prewar lives, arguing that survivors were active participants in the restitution process who engaged French and international Jewish organizations to assist with rebuilding. Engaging, skillfully researched, and deftly written, Fogg’s new book will make a valuable addition to both undergraduate syllabi and the bookshelves of seasoned historians of the Second World War and France.
Robin Buller is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.