The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family’s Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis
By Simon Goodman
Scribner, 2015. 353 pgs. Nonfiction
The Gutmanns were once among the most wealthy and powerful banking
families in Europe. This Jewish family had planted roots in Germany and
multiple generations worked to build an impressive dynasty. However,
their legacy and influence could not protect them from the Nazis and
their property was stolen away piece by piece and scattered during both
the war and its aftermath.
Simon Goodman, the grandson of Fritz
and Louise Gutmann who were imprisoned and murdered by the Third Reich,
discovered fairly late in life of his family’s grand legacy and of the
treasures that were never returned despite his father’s lifelong efforts
to restore them. After his father’s death, Simon picked up the standard
and worked to track down whatever pieces of art he could find that once
comprised his forebears’ priceless collections.
Goodman has an
amazing story to tell and he tells it extremely well. His family’s rise
to power and their experiences during the years of conflict and war were
fascinating. Also fascinating, though a bit less gripping, were Simon’s
legal battles to regain ownership of the stolen art.
Clock” provides a very personal perspective on a topic recently
highlighted in both the book and movie versions of “The Monuments Men.”
History enthusiasts are sure to appreciate this recent release.