Extracts from the May 2001 Journal

Poets and purveyors of fiction

In 1952 Emanuel Litvinoff wrote a poem entitled To TS Eliot. It was not a homage, but a settling of accounts by a younger practitioner of the craft of poetry with an aberrant master. The line ‘I share the protozoic slime of Shylock/ A page in Der Stürmer’ indicates its thrust. It threw back into the elder poet’s face the monstrous antisemitic libels he had penned in the 1920s, and not seen fit to expunge from the postwar edition of his work. Litvinoff was scheduled to read the poem at a Sunday meeting of the Institute of Contemporary Art. Just before the start of the event, ICA Chairman Herbert Read informed him that ‘Tom’ Eliot had just arrived with an entourage. Nothing daunted, Litvinoff launched into his reading, which at first produced a shocked silence, and then pandemonium. Cries of ‘libel’ and ‘slander’ rent the air, and Herbert Read expressed himself scandalised by Litvinoff’s ‘bad form’. [more...]

Painting black on black

‘Don’t let the Jewish voice die’ was the Times heading for a recent interview with Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. The doleful tone of the heading was replicated in the body of the article. In our world Dr Sacks’ interlocutor wrote, marriage is increasingly viewed as a time-share arrangement and time, and nature itself, are resources to be continuously exploited. One cannot blame the Chief Rabbi for the note of fashionable pessimism sounded by his interviewer, but he strikes a similarly melancholy chord when he says. The future of the Jewish people is once again at risk this time without the backdrop of external persecution. [more...]

Role model Magda

It is said that if the Weimar Republic hadn’t enfranchised women, the Nazis would not have won the majority of the popular vote in 1933. The fact that German women supported a party that categorised them as inferior, and excluded them from any role in the political process, tells us a great deal about the truly antediluvian character of German society. In the 18th and 19th centuries England had its great political hostesses like Lady Holland and the Duchess of Devonshire and outstanding writers like the Brontes and George Eliot; France boasted the Princess de Polignac and George Sand; even in Russia, the most feudal country of Europe, Tolstoy created female - and feminist - heroines like Anna Karenina. In Wihelminian Germany her rather pallid fictional counterpart was Fontane’s Effie Briest (though the real life Lou-Andreas Salomé, confidante of Nietzsche and Freud, deserves an honourable mention).

Third Reich’s First Lady

Where, one asks, were the German equivalents to the Pankhursts, or to those heroic Russian revolutionaries like Vera Zasulich? In fact, one woman operating on the German political stage would have fitted the bill. She was Rosa Luxemburg, a Polish Jewess murdered by rightwing officers in 1919. Hereafter, the type of woman whom literally millions of her humble sisters would dream of emulating was Magda Quandt. Finishing-school educated and advantageously married, she burst upon the national consciousness when she became the First Lady of the Third Reich by taking Josef Goebbels as her second husband. Since Hitler was both psychologically and politically averse to marriage, Magda acted the part of his chatelaine at the Berghof a glamorous role that made her the Madame Pompadour of the Nazi Versailles. [more...]


The enrolment of 550 new members in the year 2000 brought an encouraging increase in AJR’s total membership to 3,801, despite 136 deaths and some 160 who allowed their membership to lapse. The increase was due mainly to welcoming members of KT (Kindertransport) for whom the AJR have formed a special interest group, and to others who appreciated the advice, guidance and support to which membership would entitle them. [more...]

Reputations reviewed


Central Office for Holocaust Claims

Victims of Nazi persecution in the Netherlands are eligible to receive monies from a Dutch government scheme in recognition of retrospectively identified shortcomings in the restoration of rights following World War II and the government’s conduct in this matter. [more...]

Ilse Wolff: an appreciation

Ben Barkow, Acting Director of the Wiener Library writes:

Isle Wolff came to work at the Wiener Library - when it was still known as the Jewish Central Information Office - in January 1940, after a chance meeting with Alfred Wiener in Hyde Park. He mentioned that he needed a stand-in for his secretary, who was very ill; Ilse took the temporary job and stayed with the Library for over 25 years. [more...]