helenjschwartz

Author Archives

  • What were you doing six years ago?

    What were you doing as September began in 2010? After 9/11, after the election of Barack Obama, after the Great Recession. Before ISIS, the Iran Nuclear Pact, the mass migration of Syrian immigrants and others to Europe, the election of 2016. I just noticed that World War II ended on September 2, 1945. Representatives of […]

  • Bad Boys Street, Marais, Paris

    Read the Signs: Rue des Mauvais Garçons in Paris What’s the story behind Bad Boys Road?   Rue des Mauvais Garçons ©Marco/ Flickr At the heart of the Marais district in old Paris, many of the old medieval streets have retained their names. The origins of one such lane can be traced at least back to the 12th century. Much of […]

  • The Scariest Movie

    My nominee for the scariest movie is  an 85-minute German TV movie, later released in American movie theaters. The Wannsee Conference draws its script from the minutes of the January 20 meeting called by Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Nazi SS, and 14 key representatives of the SS, the Nazi Party and government bureaus to […]

  • The Red Orchestra

    A beautiful American lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, Mildred Fish, married Arvid Harnack, a visiting Rockefeller Foundation fellow and returned with him to Germany in 1929. In 1942, she was tried as a member of the “Red Orchestra,” a Russian spy network in Germany. Her original trial ended in a recommendation of six years’ […]

  • Finding names

    Many considerations affect the choice of characters’ names. Are they memorable? Do you have too many characters whose names begin with J? Is the name appropriate for the age and birthplace of a character. I tried to consider the first two questions. For France, I could only work with birthplace. But for those writing about […]

  • Nazi Shmatzi

    Have you noticed that I never use the term “Nazi” in Thieves of Paris? I had been very careful where I used Nazi and where I used German in the first draft, since not all Germans were Nazis—and not all Nazis were German. Then a reader told me the term “Nazi” had not been in […]

  • Countess Sampieri

    One of my favorite characters in Thieves of Paris is Countess Irène Sampieri, mother of Madame Beatrice Camondo Reinach. Research on this lady began my interest in Nazi art theft. When Irène was six, her father, Count Louis Cahen D’Anvers, commissioned the painter Renoir to do three portraits of his daughters. The first was Little […]

  • Why visit Paris?

    When I planned a research trip to France for Thieves of Paris in 2014, before the ISIS attack, my brother asked me why I couldn’t just do my research on the Internet and from my home near Washington, DC. He had a point. Washington boasts Archives of the United States, the United States Holocaust Memorial […]