Cover image for Inside a class action : the Holocaust and the Swiss banks
Inside a class action : the Holocaust and the Swiss banks
Schapiro, Jane, 1956-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Madison, Wis. : University of Wisconsin Press/Terrace Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 292 pages ; 24 cm
Winds of truth -- Looking back -- Plaintiffs speak -- The devil's bridge -- An uneasy alliance -- A rough calculation -- Arguments and motions -- The hearing -- Stucki's ghost -- A victim's fund -- A separate peace -- Money dance -- An accounting -- The reckoning.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF228.H65 S52 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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On October 21, 1996, attorney Michael Hausfeld, with a team of lawyers, filed a class-action complaint against Union Bank of Switzerland, Swiss Bank Corporation, and Credit Suisse on behalf of Holocaust victims. The suit accused the banks of, among other things, acting as the chief financiers for Nazi Germany. Hausfeld wanted to use the suit to prove that the banks not only concealed and refused to return millions of dollars in dormant accounts, but that they acted as a conduit for looted assets and slave labor profits. Such behavior, he charged, violated the code of ethics known as customary international law. On August 12, 1998, the plaintiffs and banks reached a $1.25 billion settlement.
Through interviews with a wide range of people involved in the case and detailed research of documents and court transcripts, Jane Schapiro shows the ways that egos, personalities, and values clash in such a complex and emotionally charged case. "Inside a Class Action" provides an insider s view of a major lawsuit from its inception to its conclusion, which will appeal to anyone interested in human rights, reparations, and international law."

Author Notes

Jane Schapiro is a freelance writer who lives near Washington, D.C. She is the author of a volume of poetry, Tapping This Stone , and her work has appeared in such publications as the Christian Science Monitor , Women's Review of Books , Gettysburg Review , and American Scholar .

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Shadowing attorney Michael Hausfeld through almost three years of litigation, Schapiro, a freelance writer and poet, details the progress of the class action suit Holocaust survivors filed against Swiss banks in 1996. The suit accused the banks of hoarding Jewish money, of serving as a channel for Nazi profits from slave labor and for "being accessories to the crime of genocide." The tension of the battle between the plaintiffs and the defendants is almost tangible, as is the passion for justice that motivates Hausfeld, his team and the victims. One survivor, Alice Fisher, expresses a feeling echoed by many others that sheds light on the attitude of survivors toward the suit: "this is not just a material issue; this is a moral issue...This puts the Holocaust on the map against all the denials." Touching letters by victims, legal memos and first-person perspectives help this book create a complete panorama of the case, and a glimpse into the personal lives of the case's personalities make it a fascinating read. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.