For consumers of junk culture of a certain age, the Holocaust hung over our guilty pleasures like a demonus ex machina – a convenient plot twist used to explain bad behavior so often it became a horrible cliche ("You see, the Duke has a terrible secret! He is a Nazi! The Duchess also has a secret! She is a Jewess!")
Thankfully, the use of the device has receded, one would like to think because even shlockmeisters have limits, but more likely because, with each passing year, the pall of the memory of the Shoah is dimming.
Among a certain class of Europeans, however, cliches have third, fourth, even fifth acts, pace F. Scott Fitzgerald. We now have the case of Helg Sgarbi, who allegedly seduced BMW heiress Susanne Klatten, Germany’s richest woman – and married – and then extorted millions from her before she called the Eurocops.
That’s the version hitting American news sites, but the British media add a juicy detail – courtesy, reportedly, of Ernano Barretta, Sgarbi’s alleged partner in crime: Sgarbi, supposedly, is the son of a Polish Jew who was enslaved by BMW during the war. Revenge, you see.
The protagonists are relatively young: Sgarbi is 41 and Klatten is 46. Who knows if any of this is true, but there is a pattern: Sgarbi’s alleged preferred targets are German speaking women.
Want restitution? Next time, stick to the Claims Conference.