Extracts from the May 2008 Journal

From police chief in Berlin to refugee in Britain

The story of Dr Bernhard Weiß, who was Deputy President of Police in Berlin from 1927 until 1932 - in itself remarkable since he was Jewish - also has an unexpected final chapter. Weiß was one of the rare officials under the Weimar Republic who was actively committed to republican, democratic values; he defended Germany’s young and vulnerable parliamentary democracy vigorously against its political enemies on both left and right and sought to inspire those under his command with the spirit of democratic policing. He ended his days in exile in Britain. [more...]

Art notes (review)

The sixteenth-century German artist Lucas Cranach lived on the cusp of the Reformation, an exciting time for any serious painter. Cranach, at the Royal Academy until 8 June, was a spirited and witty painter, gracious and delicate. Yet his religious subjects evoked genuine human suffering without ennobling it, which also makes him one of the first Realists. The luminous colours of his altarpieces were preserved through his use of oil and tempera, noticeable in the elaborate triptych he created for Emperor Maximilian 1. [more...]

Uniqueness of the Kindertransport (review)

The attitude of a country to its refugees has always been ambivalent, and in this wide-ranging book Professor Tony Kushner explores this ambivalence by examining contemporary views expressed both in the media and by individuals. He also considers how historians have treated the influx of different groups of refugees in different periods. A theme encountered throughout the book is the perceived - but not necessarily actual - conflicting right of refugees to seek safety and that of the host community’s wish to preserve its identity. It is also suggested that the self-congratulatory reporting of Britain’s attitude to refugees does not always match reality. While the main emphasis is on Jewish immigration to the UK, the author also compares the influx of other groups of refugees, ranging from the Huguenots to those of the present day. [more...]

Fighting talk

I had a tough war and not enough medals to show for it. An ungrateful nation ignored my encounters with more than one deadly enemy: I got nothing for drinking for weeks from a well at the bottom of which we eventually discovered a dead Jap. While hardship and boredom were the lot of many, few were as unprepared as I. You see, where I come from – a nice part of Vienna - very little Urdu was spoken, so you can imagine that when I stood before the court martial as a defending officer of an Urdu-speaking soldier accused of knifing a comrade, I felt I was being tested on a rather specialised field of battle. [more...]

AJR Report

Poland to enact restitution legislation
According to media reports, the government of Poland is committing itself to introducing property restitution legislation by the end of 2008. Although reports refer to property restitution, it is thought the bill will provide compensation of 20 per cent of a property’s value to former owners, both Jewish and non-Jewish. The law would apply to properties seized during the Second World War. [more...]

Letter from Israel

Orphaned art looking for owners
Two sister-exhibitions are currently on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The first is a selection of paintings which have been in the possession of the museum and its predecessor, the Bezalel collection, since the end of the Second World War. The paintings, put together for the first time under the title ‘Orphaned Art’, were found by the Allies in Nazi homes and collection centres throughout Europe. For obvious reasons, the provenance of most of the artworks was not clear, and in many cases their owners could not be traced. The second exhibition, ‘Looking for Owners’, has been put together and sponsored by the French government. It contains 53 paintings, many of them by renowned artists, which originally belonged to French Jews. [more...]

‘FINE WORK’ OF THE AJR

Sir – As usual, I enjoy the contents of AJR Journal and gladly continue my subscriptions for myself and my sister-in-law in the USA. [more...]

Letters to the Editor

[more ...]