Apr 2005 Journal

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Richard Grunberger: an institution in his own right

As Editor of the Association's monthly magazine AJR Information and, since 2001, Editor-in-Chief of the redesigned AJR Journal, Richard Grunberger fortified the links between the rich German-Jewish cultural life his generation left behind and of which they, as refugees, are the last representatives. With equal authority, he fostered the acculturation of the German-speaking refugee community in Britain and did not hesitate to point out and debate what he perceived to be the community's main concerns

Having arrived in England as a Kindertransportee, he was eventually offered a home with a Jewish family and he went to work in the tailoring trade in London's East End. After studying at Birkbeck College, he was awarded a degree at Kings College. As well as teaching at the Hasmonean School and Minchenden Grammar School in north London, he wrote a number of essays, plays and books, the best known of the latter being his Social History of the Third Reich.

Richard was unique, an institution in his own right. He applied his phenomenal memory and sharp intellect to placing events in their historical context and to writing penetrating evaluations on current affairs using the most concise and exquisite English prose. Each of Richard's pages contained a chapter's-worth of ideas: a recent leader included a history of the Jews in three brief paragraphs! Not least characteristic of him was his love for, and doughty defence of, the Jewish people and the State of Israel, which he saw as under threat from atavistic forces supported by misguided liberals and others in the West. For Richard, Europe's apparent antipathy to the security and well-being of the democratic and civilised community of the Jewish state may have betrayed a festering antisemitism re-emerging after a half-century.

For more than ten years I had the immense privilege of working with Richard at the AJR offices in the writing, design and publication of the Association's monthly magazine. I was witness to the seemingly inexhaustible flow of knowledge of his Continental and English culture, history and scholarship, and his phenomenal memory and incisive analyses of current affairs, especially any renewed threat to the survival of the Jewish people. His passing is the end of an era.
Ronald Channing

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