Zweig, Ronald W. 1949-
ZWEIG, Ronald W. 1949-
PERSONAL: Born October 17, 1949, in Sydney, Australia; son of Ernst (an engineer) and Anita (a homemaker; maiden name, Trief) Zweig; married Hanna Heitner (an information scientist), August 20, 1974; children: Eytan, Alon. Education: University of Sydney, B.A. (with honors), 1972; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1978.
ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 1042, Mevasseret Zion 90805, Israel. Office—Department of Jewish History, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, 69978, Israel. Agent—c/o Author Mail, 7th floor, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Hebrew University, Jerusalem, lecturer, 1978–83; Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel, senior lecturer in Jewish history, 1983–; Institute for Research in the History of Zionism, director, 1989–92. Visiting professor at Ohio State University, 1990, and at American University. Humanities Computing Initiative, director, 1994.
MEMBER: World Union Jewish Studies, Israel Historical Society, Association for Computing in Humanities, Association of Jewish Studies, Association for Computing in History.
AWARDS, HONORS: Bramstead Graduation Prize for European history, Sydney University, 1972; junior fellow in modern history, Oxford University Center for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, 1977–78; Alexander Silberman International fellow, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1980–81; visiting research fellow, Tauber Institute, Brandeis University, 1982; visiting archives fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, 1994; research grant, Tel Aviv University, 1994; research grant, Ministry of Science and Technology, 1995–96; Matthew Family fellow, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, 1999.
Britain and Palestine during the Second World War, Royal Historical Society (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England), 1986.
German Reparations and the Jewish World: A History of the Claims Conference, Westview (Boulder, CO), 1987, revised and expanded, F. Cass (Portland, OR), 2001.
(Editor) David Ben-Gurion: Politics and Leadership in Israel, F. Cass (Portland, OR), 1991.
(Editor with Mark A. Raider and Jonathan D. Sarna) Abba Hillel Silver and American Zionism, F. Cass (Portland, OR), 1997.
(Editor with Thomas Albrich) Escape through Austria: Jewish Refugees and the Austrian Route to Palestine, F. Cass (Portland, OR), 2002.
The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Looting of Hungary, Morrow (New York, NY), 2002.
Editor-in-chief of Journal of Israeli History (formerly Studies in Zionism), 1983–.
SIDELIGHTS: Robert Zweig is a faculty member in the department of Jewish history at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Most of his research focuses on aspects of Jewish history, including World War II and the Holocaust, the aftermath of the Holocaust on the Jewish world, Jewish issues in international politics, and leaders in Jewish political history. He is also interested in the computerization of historical documents, especially documents related to modern Jewish history. One of his research endeavors, according to his homepage on the Tel Aviv University Web site, is the "digitization" of approximately 30,000 pages of the Palestine Post newspaper.
Zweig's first book, Britain and Palestine during the Second World War, documents the policy changes in Britain in 1939 that altered Britain's view of Palestine. Zweig explains that while these policy changes rallied Arab support against Nazi Germany during World War II, the changes also prevented many Jewish immigrants from entering Palestine and escaping persecution by the Nazis.
In German Reparations and the Jewish World: A History of the Claims Conference Zweig discusses the more than seventy billion dollars of reparation payments that Germany has made to help Holocaust survivors rebuild their lives since the end of World War II. First published in 1987, the book has become an important reference on the reparation agreements made between Germany and the Jewish world. In 2001, Zweig expanded and updated the research of his first book with new archival information, examining how the payments have been spent and explaining how relations both inside and outside the Jewish community have changed because of the reparation payments.
Zweig edited and contributed to the essay collection David Ben-Gurion: Politics and Leadership in Israel, which discusses the Jewish political leader David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, who was influential in the creation of the State of Israel. Among the topics covered in the book are Ben-Gurion's views on Israel's role in Jewish affairs, Jewish immigration to Israel, and reparations negotiations with Germany. A wide range of contributors bring varying levels of expertise and different perspectives to this collection as they discuss the determination, resolve, commitment, and leadership of Ben-Gurion. As contributor Shimon Peres noted in his essay on Ben-Gurion, "He decided that the time had come to establish a Jewish state, yet once it had been founded, he was not satisfied—it must be an exemplary state, a chosen state."
Zweig coedited Abba Hillel Silver and American Zionism, another collection of essays about a leader in Jewish political history who was influential in the establishment of the State of Israel. Contributors to the collection include, in addition to Zweig and coeditors Mark A. Raider and Jonathan D. Sarna, Alexander M. Schindler, Michael A. Meyer, Anita Shapira, Hasia R. Diner, and Arthur A. Goren. The book presents an overview of Silver's political ideas and Zionist thought, and even includes a comparative study of Silver and Ben-Gurion.
Perhaps Zweig's most talked-about book is The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Looting of Hungary. According to Zweig's historical account, Hungarian Jews were stripped of their gold, gems, money, and other items of value before they were executed by Nazis during World War II. The estimated fifty-to one-hundred-and-twenty million dollars worth of treasure was loaded onto a train in Budapest, Hungary, and sent to a Nazi-controlled area of the Alps. A Publishers Weekly critic called The Gold Train a "precise and sober-minded study." Zweig explains the international scope of the Gold Train and exposes the myths and rumors that have encircled it for decades. In addition, he tells the sad truth, as the Publishers Weekly critic pointed out, that "almost none of the surviving Jews who lost their property ever saw it returned."
According to Booklist's Jay Freeman, Zweig "recounts the Hungarian Jews' sad fate with eloquence and compassion." Freeman continued, writing: "The search for their stolen riches has the elements of a first-rate thriller." In a review on the Guardian Unlimited Web site, Peter Preston observed: "The Gold Train is no straightforward history of one of our continent's most complex and troubled nations, but it does set the complexities and troubles in a lucid, scholarly context." Preston explained that Zweig has relayed "a tale of brutality and corruption doused in a warm bath of myth-making." "Zweig knows there are no simple answers," commented Preston. "[But he] carves diligently away in search of reasonable conclusions which can make this supreme time of unreason comprehensible." The Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that "Zweig … does an admirable job of untangling a complicated story and sorting fact from fiction in this fascinating subplot in the vast, tragic narrative" of World War II.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Zweig, Ronald, editor, David Ben-Gurion: Politics and Leadership in Israel, F. Cass (Portland, OR), 1991.
American Historical Review, February, 1990, review of German Reparations and the Jewish World: A History of the Claims Conference, p. 200.
Booklist, October 15, 2002, Jay Freeman, review of The Gold Train: The Destruction of the Jews and the Looting of Hungary, p. 385.
Publishers Weekly, September 9, 2002, review of The Gold Train, p. 56.
Reference and Research Book News, August, 2001, review of German Reparations and the Jewish World, p. 41.
Times Literary Supplement, November 29, 2002, Istvan Deak, "Blood on the Tracks," review of The Gold Train, p. 25.
Guardian Unlimited Web site, http://www.guardian.co.uk/ (January 16, 2003), Peter Preston, "The Colonel, the Nazis and the $300m," review of The Gold Train, original review from the Observer, July 21, 2002.
Tel Aviv University Web site, http://www.tau.ac.il/humanities/faculty/rzweig.htm (January 16, 2003).