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L'Oreal Took My Home
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Behind one of the world's largest beauty and cosmetics companies lie some ugly secrets, which Monica Waitzfelder attempts to uncover in this compelling personal account. During World War II, as Jewish homes were being seized one after another, the Rosenfelder family was forced to flee the nation, leaving behind their jobs, their possessions, and their family home. After the fighting ended, the family discovered that they were unable to return to what had rightfully been their property; cosmetics giant L'Oreal had taken over the building and made it their head office. Refusing to recognize the building's original owners, the corporation was brought to court by the Rosenfelder's young daughter, Monica, an ordeal that she chronicles in this honest, personal tale of one family's ongoing struggle to regain what it lost during the war.
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About the Author

Monica Waitzfelder, born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1953, has lived in Paris since 1984. She has directed opera at the Paris National Opera, the Theatre du Chatelet, and at other French and international venues.

Reviews

'It is right that this book should be published. It is a painful story, passionately told and fully documented, of the forcible appropriation of the home of a Jewish family by the Nazis in 1938, which finally came into the possession of the cosmetics giants, L'Oreal. Though the company denies any knowledge of the provenance of the property, it seems that they were complicit in its acquisition from the start. Despite the present climate of opinion in Europe, in favour of compensation for victims such as Monica Waitzfelder's family, the company has made no admission of moral responsibility. The case is now to come before the European Court of Human Rights.' - Mary Warnock'France's richest resident, cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt, is in desperate need of some concealer. The 82-year-old controlling shareholder in L'Oreal, worth some $17.2 billion, is fending off allegations of ugly behaviour by her father, L'Oreal founder and alleged Nazi sympathizer Eugene Schueller ... L'Oreal Took My Home details [the family's] fight with L'Oreal, replete with detailed documentation' - Forbes magazine'Puts Waitzfelder at the centre of a painful debate in France about the country's role in the Nazis' effort to destroy Jews and strip them of their possessions. Indeed, the case is forcing France, which once prided itself on being a nation of resisters, to face difficult questions about its involvement with Nazi activities' - Christian Science Monitor'A story both gripping and horrifying, the more so because the reader cannot help admire the persistence and diligence with which the author pursued her quest, and, under the circumstances, the restrained and dignified way in which she tells the story.' - Hugo Vickers'The perpetrators of injustice bank on the passage of time and memory to obscure their misdemeanours. This is especially true where agents of the state or large corporations are concerned. They don't come much larger than L'Oreal, founded in 1907, the world's biggest beauty products company, and in 2007 convicted in a landmark case of racial discrimination. The real deterrent for such institutions is that some individual, or family, in this case the Waitzfelders will keep the flame of truth alive by relentlessly exposing hypocrisy and deceit. This epic struggle covers a time span of 70 years and is still continuing. Without whistleblowers of this calibre, the quality of justice for all of us would be substantially diminished.' - Michael Mansfield QC'A meticulously documented thriller worthy of Forsyth or Grisham. It reads like the story of a reasonable woman with a full life who has been pushed to the door of the European Court of Human Rights by a multinational behemoth that seems desperate to hide its origins. Waitzfelder actually undersells her enemy somewhat. L'Oreal, 27.1 per cent owned by Nestle and 28.2 per cent owned by the founder's family, posted a pre-tax profit of more than E2,300m in 2005. The group brands include Giorgio Armani, Maybelline, Helena Rubinstein, Shu Uemura, Redken, Kerastase and the Body Shop. Forbes rates the head of the family, Liliane Bettencourt, as 16th on its list of billionaires. A crumb from the table might have been tossed to the Waitzfelder family to avert a world-wide public relations disaster, but no. The group seems to have acted as if it were unaware that we live in times when public apology is a central plank of image management and having a Nazi father is no bar to becoming the governor of California' - Celia Brayfield, New Statesman'A shocking book. The cosmetics group L'Oreal ("Because you're worth it") sells beauty but, behind its massive campaign to arrest women's ageing process, there are accusations of an ugly story of theft, denial and profiteering. But Waitzfelder's fight isn't over: she is taking the claim to the European Court of Human Rights. In the meantime, I have thrown all my L'Oreal products into the dustbin' - Julia Pascal, Independent'Monica Waitzfelder tells a powerful story, and asks the perfectly obvious question- why won't L'Oreal recognise what they did before and during the war, and compensate her mother for their house in Karlsruhe? Court after court has decided that it is not a 'French' case, yet other courts in other jurisdictions have not had such problems. Read the book to see how the system just does not want to listen- but be assured that the Waitzfelder family will win in the end, because their case is just.' - Rabbi Julia Neuberger'The battle has been waged by three generations of the Rosenfelder family. In 1937, as the Nazi persecution of Jews increased, the family abandoned its three-storey house in the German industrial city of Karlsruhe and fled to France. The family was later deported. Edith Rosenfelder escaped but her mother died in Auschwitz in 1942 and her father died in a Red Cross camp in Switzerland in 1945' - Guardian'I really liked this book. It's a shocking story about corporate denial, written almost like a thriller; I was cheering her on from the opening pages.' - Joan Smith, author of What Will Survive'A passionate and personal work of exploration into the murky past of the largest cosmetic company in the world: L'Oreal, France. A most necessary book.' - Carmen Callil'A shame-filled story of cover-up, deceit and Nazi collaboration. Utterly convincing. And a compelling read. L'Oreal needs to turn over its profits from their wrinkle-disappearing products to compensate for and rid themselves of the terrible blemish perpetrated on the Waitzfelder family rather than using its profits to create more tricks of artifice and cunning to sell us unattainable youthful looks.' - Susie Orbach'How long after 1945 must sufferers wait for reparation? Ask Monica Waitzfelder. She's still waiting for the return of her family property and is currently taking her case to the European Court ... as readers will discover, [L'Oreal] played a part in the loss of Waitzfelder's family home. Shocking too, to read of the early days of L'Oreal - something to remember when you are next shampooing your hair. It still reverberates' - Sue Baker, Top Titles, Publishing News'Very recognizable and painful to read' - Jacqueline Van Maarsen, Author of My Name is Anne, She Said, Anne Frank'This important work' - Anthony Lester (Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC)

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