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Extracts from the Sep 2010 Journal

The Free German League of Culture

Today, it is hard to imagine that the AJR was once overshadowed by other organisations claiming to represent the refugees from Germany and Austria in Britain. Yet this was the case during the wartime years, when the Free German League of Culture (FGLC, Freier Deutscher Kulturbund) was active as the body representing the refugees from Germany, and the Austrian Centre those from Austria. These were politically inspired organisations, aiming to represent all anti-Nazi refugees from Germany or Austria irrespective of religion or race, unlike the AJR, whose constituency was the Jewish refugees irrespective of nationality. [more...]

The future of the AJR

As we approach our 70th anniversary, we at the AJR are planning how best to continue to serve our members with the delivery of social, welfare and financial services to more than 3,000 individuals across the country. [more...]

As written in The Book of Fate: How Albanians rescued Jews fleeing Nazism

Scarlett Epstein OBE: Many Jews fleeing Nazism found a safe haven in Albania, where the population, irrespective of which religion they followed, shared a ‘code of honour’ - besa - which dictated that they risk their own lives to save Jews. Natasha Korn, whose family was persecuted by the Nazis in Odessa, has lived in Albania since 2003 with her American husband, who works there with the Peace Corps. [more...]

Art notes (review)

For a portraitist, John Singer Sargent was a remarkable seascape artist. The Royal Academy’s exhibition Sargent and the Sea, until 26 September, contains none of the pre-Raphaelite paintings which made him the Van Dyck of his day. [more...]

Edmund Wolf - a divided life

Edmund Wolf was an important member of the Austro-Jewish refugee community but not known to many by name. There was a good reason - a life divided by living in England but working mainly in Germany in the years after the war. [more...]

The Austrian National Library

At a commemorative ceremony at the Austrian National Library in June, the Austrian National Fund symbolically accepted three of 8,363 books seized during the National Socialist era, the previous owners of which were unable to be traced. The works were handed over in compliance with the Art Restitution Law.
Accepting the books, Secretary General Mag. Hannah Lessing said: ‘Since the enactment of the Art Restitution Law … in 1998 art objects are now being transferred to the National Fund for the first time and their proceeds can been used to benefit the victims of National Socialism.’
The transferred books were subsequently repurchased by the National Library for 135,000 euros. Hannah Lessing announced that ‘[T]he proceeds from these one-time looted objects will be received by those people who are most entitled to them - those who, like the former owners of these books, were persecuted by the National Socialist regime. Those who, unlike the former owners, were lucky enough to survive particularly require our assistance in their old age.’
The publications which were transferred are ‘objects which without exception bear no indications as to the identities of their former owners,’ the National Library stressed in a press release. The provenance report, which was completed in December 2003, listed 52,403 objects which had been acquired by the National Library during the National Socialist regime. On the basis of this report and of the examination by the Art Restitution Advisory Board, in recent years 35,217 individual objects have been restituted to the rightful heirs of the persecuted former owners.
In 2006, in order to reach out to the rightful owners of looted property, the National Fund set up its own art database at www.artrestitution.at This has enabled a targeted online search for art and cultural objects today located in the museums and collections of the Republic of Austria or the City of Vienna which, according to the current status of the provenance research, were possibly seized during the National Socialist era.
It has also emerged that since the beginning of the year, the holdings of the parliamentary library have also been subject to examination with regard to their provenance and potential restitution.
Written enquiries should be sent to the AJR, Jubilee House, Merrion Avenue, Stanmore, Middx HA7 4RL or to mnewman@ajr.org.uk

Letter from Israel

When I first moved to Israel, some 40 years ago, there was one supermarket in Jerusalem, and perhaps a few more in Tel Aviv. My housekeeping requirements as a student were not very great and I seem to remember my forays to the supermarket as rare occasions, requiring little more to be purchased than bread, milk and eggs. I lived on black coffee and chocolate biscuits, and ate proper meals only at the weekends, when kind relatives invited me for Friday night supper or Shabbat lunch. [more...]

Letters to the Editor

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