Extracts from the Jun 2001 Journal

Race – the ‘big issue’?

Over the last few weeks race has evolved into a major issue in the General Election campaign. This came hard on the heels of a series on BBC radio which described race as the single greatest cause of mayhem in human history. Not everybody concurred – with some critics arguing that the worst of the scourges that have habitually plagued mankind was religion rather than race. These critics overlook the fact that in many global trouble spots racial and religious divisions overlap. For instance, while it may look to the outside world that in Ireland Catholic and Protestant brothers are pitted against one another, in fact the Catholics are all of Celtic origin whereas most Protestants are descended from Scots and Englishmen (hence the place name Londonderry) ‘planted’ there by Elizabeth and James I. [more...]

Dangerous truth

When the Hungarian Parliament staged its first Holocaust memorial ceremony in late April, twelve extreme rightwing deputies stayed away. Their leader, Istvan Czurka, told Hungarian radio that he felt “victims of Communism and the Holocaust are the same.” This is, of course, arrant nonsense – victims of the Shoah outnumber casualties of the Budapest Uprising by a hundred to one. In addition, it harps subliminally on the Zhidekommunism myth, which casts the Jews as germ carriers of Communism. (Though the Jewish ‘Prime Ministers’ Bela Kun [1919] and Matyas Rakosi [1948-54] were both Communists, their co-religionists tended to be middle-class and religiously observant.) [more...]

White (and Black) washing

When dictatorships are set up artists take flight. Toscanini fled Mussolini’s Italy, Rachmaninov and Chagall Soviet Russia, and Thomas Mann, Hindemith and Beckmann Nazi Germany. To offset this palpable loss of their cultural substance, authoritarian regimes occasionally seduce selected exiles into returning. Stalin induced Sergei Prokofiev to resettle in Russia in the mid-thirties. A little earlier a Goebbels emissary had tried to lure Erich Maria Remarque back to Germany from California. When the author of All Quiet on the Western Front rejected this overture the emissary predicted that homesickness would plague him for the rest of his days – to which Remarque retorted “What do you think I am, a German Jew?” [more...]

Posthumous discovery

My father, Sebastian Haffner, might not have been pleased to see his book Geschichte eines Deutschen published. He died in 1999 at the age of 91, a celebrated German author and historical journalist, with a reputation for books containing highly original, coolly and lucidly argued insights into German twentieth-century history. This book, the first he ever wrote, started in exile in England in 1938 and abandoned a year or so later, may be original and lucid, but it is not cool. It is the passionate outburst of a young man whose career has been cut off and whose life has been turned inside out by his own countrymen, following a leader and an ideology he views only with contempt and disgust. In his cool old age, my father tended to be slightly ashamed of the early works he had published in England. What would he have thought of this one, unfinished, raw, and revealing so much of his inner self? [more...]

Anglo-Jewry and the Refugees from the Continent

The German and Austrian refugees who arrived in Britain between 1933 and 1940 came overwhelmingly from the urban centres of German-speaking Jewry. Their social culture - metropolitan and refined - was very different from that of Anglo-Jewry, the largest section of whom were descended from the Eastern European Jews who had emigrated from the shtetls of Russia at the turn of the century. The Continental Jews were predominantly assimilated and secularised, having determinedly put behind them the customs, way of life and appearance of the ghettos; they were largely drawn from the highly-educated and cultured middle classes, upwardly mobile both professionally and socially
Assimilation on the Continent [more...]

Profile - Arnold Paucker

Later this year, the youthful and energetic Arnold Paucker (he celebrated his 80th birthday this year) bids farewell to the desk he has occupied for forty-two years as Director of the Leo Baeck Institute, where he has presided since the Institute’s foundation in 1959. The farewell ceremonials will undoubtedly be the occasion for reminiscence by him and others on a rich and eventful life which began in Berlin in 1921. [more...]

Central Office for Holocaust Claims

Claimants in the Holocaust Victim Assets Litigation will be sent court notices outlining how the $1.25 billion Swiss Bank Settlement is to be allocated. [more...]

Insightful and unsparing analysis

GESCHICHTE EINES DEUTSCHEN, Sebastian Haffner, Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, 2000. [more...]

Reaching out to refugees from Nazi persecution

The AJR is reaching out to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution who may still not have benefited from support services or funds to which they might be entitled. [more...]