Leo Baeck 1


Extracts from the Jul 2002 Journal

The contentious issue of pride (editorial)

When as a teenager I asked my father if he was proud to be Jewish, he replied angrily: "Don't be so bloody ridiculous!" In retrospect, I suppose for him my question implied the notion that pride in being Jewish was a bit like being proud of being white: these were accidents of birth and any pride carried with it at least the potential for discrimination against the opposite - in this case, non-Jews. [more...]

The bitch is still on heat

While Britain marks the Queen's Golden Jubilee with fanfares, Germany keeps justifiably quiet about a totally different event which also happened to take place half a century ago. The background to it is the indeterminate position on the German political spectrum which the FDP - the counterpart to Britain's Liberals - occupies. While the Liberals are undeviatingly middle-of-the-road, the FDP (as well as its Austrian equivalent, the Freedom Party) has been oscillating alarmingly between laissez-faire and extreme right-wing positions. As Europe knows to its cost, Jörg Haider took over the Freedom Party and pushed it in a neo-Nazi direction over ten years ago. [more...]

Memoir of an "out-and-out anti-Nazi"

'Sebastian Haffner's Defying Hitler is a most brilliant and imaginative book - one of the most important books we have ever published', Lord Weidenfeld told a packed audience at the London Jewish Cultural Centre. The meeting was held in association with the AJR's Continental Britons Exhibition at the Jewish Museum in London's Camden Town. [more...]

Is media bias all in the mind?

The Bishop of St Albans warns that a rising tide of antisemitism is sending a frisson of fear through the Anglo-Jewish community. At the same time, a London lawyer has compiled a 43-page report alleging BBC bias - mainly through omissions and a failure to place events in their proper context - in its coverage of the Middle East. [more...]

Central Office for Holocaust Claims

Austrian Reconciliation Fund

Following the rejection last July of two law suits in a US court against the Federal Republic of Austria, the Austrian Reconciliation Fund has paid compensation to more than 60,000 victims of Nazi persecution used as slave and forced labourers on the territory of present-day Austria. In exchange for providing reparations and endowing the fund with $280 million, the Austrian state and industry have secured legal peace. [more...]

First-time playwright (profile)

To while away the time spent stuck in traffic en route to interview Charlotte Eilenberg, I reflect on the refugee input into British playwriting. Working purely from memory, I come to the conclusion that it is quite meagre. Many years ago there was Frank Marcus's Killing of Sister George, but its content - a melange of showbiz intrigue and lesbianism - was infinitely remote from refugee concerns. Several decades later came Diane Samuels's Kindertransport, which signally tapped into our collective experience. The playwright is, however, of East European ancestry, and watching her work I found it devoid of the sensitive insights of Gerda Mayer and Lotte Kramer, the poetic chroniclers of all our yesterdays. [more...]

Desperately seeking solidarity (Part 1)

If there is one German word I would like to see anglicised, it is solidarisieren, best paraphrased as 'displaying solidarity with someone'. The reason for this request is that I have been looking for a focus of solidarity since the age of ten. In February 1934, the Sozialdemokratische Partei, in whose sheltering shade I had grown up, disappeared, not so much in a puff of smoke, as in a bloody artillery bombardment. This left an aching hole in my family's life: no more daily copies of Die Arbeiterzeitung, no more screenings of Dreigroschenoper at the nearby Arbeiterheim and no more May Day processions along the Ringstrasse. (At the last officially permitted march-past in May 1933, my father had hoisted me on his shoulders and I had actually glimpsed my mother's brother carrying the banner of the Bank Employees' Union.) [more...]