Apr 2007 Journal

Letters to the Editor


Sir - I have just finished watching the wonderful programme on BBC Four about the AJR. It was positively uplifting! I am not sure whether it was filmed at the Day Centre - I presume it was. What was most satisfying and enjoyable was the dignity, enthusiasm and great humour of those who were filmed.
Although those taking part in the programme were all refugees from persecution, the programme was remarkably positive. They serve as a great example of the power of overcoming adversity and being committed to rebuilding their lives despite the horror and loss they experienced.

Jubilee House and the Day Centre demonstrate so well how care for the elderly can be a dignified and enlightened task.
Chris Ure and family, Felmersham, Beds

Sir - I watched a wonderful half-hour programme on BBC4. It looked as if it was from a day club for Jewish people. How delightfully refreshing, witty and amusing the Jewish refugees were. Such strength of spirit, having been through such a terrible upheaval in their lives, shows what a marvellous group of people they are.
Mary Young, Yeovil

Sir - I was so disappointed with the programme about our Day Centre on BBC 4. Due to the inexperience and lack of interest of the young reporter, the Day Centre appeared little different from those shown sometimes on the main channels. Boredom was held at bay only by the ‘performance’ of the two male members – one by his beautiful playing of the violin, the other by his robust views on the disadvantages of marriage! Incidentally, I also agree with the view that the German and Austrian refugees should not be lumped together. We suffered the same fate but vive la différence!
(Mrs) Marion Smith, Harrow, Middx

Sir - ‘The Waiting Room’. What for? The staff and volunteers do a magnificent job - nothing of this was mentioned or shown. There was no introduction and not much of an end. Seeing the premises and people one knows on TV gave rise to discussion among us in NW London, but what did this programme do for other viewers? Many members must have missed it altogether as the Journal was not received by some until after the programme was screened.
Hortense Gordon, London NW2


Sir – If Victor Ross (March) has fallen out of love with the English (not the British?) this is his own affair. But we can dispute his reasoning. There is a difference between the USA and the UK in that in America the majority of people are originally immigrants themselves or stem from immigrant families.
Yes, there is a powerful Jewish lobby in the USA which is missing here. But this is hardly the fault of the English. One might say that it is less necessary here or it would have emerged.
Like Victor Ross, I have come to the conclusion that we first-generation refugees will never be ‘genuine Englishmen’. The second generation – our children – have no such problems. Could this be a case of sour grapes?
Carl F. Flesch, London NW6

Sir – I’m sorry Victor Ross has fallen out of love with the English. My love for them has deepened rather than diminished over the years. What he calls the ‘double bluff of self-deprecation, the arrogance of learning worn lightly’ I, who come from a country where nearly everyone is a Herr Doktor and lets you know it, find rather refreshing. As for the ‘ice-cold heart behind good manners’, in my experience the opposite is true. Behind a rather cool facade, there beats a warm heart. If antisemitism exists in this country, as it probably does, I have never encountered it. It has to be said, though, that, unlike Victor Ross, I have never mingled with the English beau monde nor have I ever aspired to become an English gentlewoman. I am what I am - an Austrian Jew, a loyal British subject and a citizen of the world.
Edith Argy, London W9

Sir – I am appalled by the final sentiment expressed by Victor Ross. I would have expected something better from someone associated with my late uncle Werner M. Behr in the Thank-You Britain Fund. We are emphatically not defined by the labels and libels of our enemies! We introduced the first successful monotheistic religion and moral code, which others imitated only much later. We do not cower as abject slaves to the prejudices of others!
Michael Feld, London N3


Sir – It is time that some of your readers stopped their verbal sniping at Israel and the Israeli army. They are a very small few fighting against vastly superior numbers to try and ensure the safety of their country’s citizens and leave a safe haven for any Jewish person to visit or go to live. Stick up for Israel and cheer them on!
Frank Reichmann, North Leigh, Oxon

Sir – It was heart-warming to find so many of your contributors making such a wholehearted case in favour of Israel (February), whilst expressing their uninhibited feelings about the Jewish anti-Israel clique. Diaspora-based anti-Israel Jews do not seem to remember that Israeli citizens who are continually harassed by rocket attacks and suicide bombers are more than entitled to expect their government to defend them.
Dr Fred Rosner, Chigwell, Essex

Sir – Re the popular ‘poor Palestinian rhetoric’: it is hardly surprising that families ‘enjoying’ eight, nine or more children will suffer poverty. Also, having just returned from a Nile cruise and a visit to Cairo, I can confirm to the bleeding hearts that the poverty in Egypt is of third-world proportions - in spite of having amazing natural wealth in the form of the Nile and the Suez Canal and tourist potential worthy of the premier league. To the Palestinian sympathisers, I recommend a visit to Egypt for a reality check.
M. Ladenheim, Surbiton, Surrey


Sir – Mrs B. Cohen (February) fails to understand why some people visit Germany for pleasure, but that others visit out of a sense of duty to the vanished Jewish communities does not seem to have occurred to her. I visit my old home town of Wesel every year on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, when a Gedenkfeier takes place at the city hall with a candle-lit procession to the Mahnmal in the shadow of the local cathedral. The year before last I was instrumental in having a granite memorial plaque unveiled in the military part of the city cemetery to seven German-Jewish soldiers killed in action in the First World War. This year, on Holocaust Memorial Day, after I had written a strong letter to the local press the previous year, a wreath-laying ceremony took place at the Mahnmal for the first time.

As the last active member of a once flourishing Jewish community, I feel it is my duty to keep their memory alive and engage in dialogue with, especially the young, but also older citizens. Mrs Cohen might ponder on what she could usefully do in this field instead of withdrawing into a bitterness which does no good.
Ernest G. Kolman, Greenford, Middx

Sir - Most Germans living today are deeply regretful of what happened. Has anyone ever heard of a country that persecuted Jews later making compensation payments? Of course, these do not atone for the millions who were murdered, but they enable survivors to live in their old age free from financial worry.
Henry Schragenheim, London N15


Sir - Max Sulzbacher states (March) that I ‘was presumably born in Germany’. In fact, I was born in Vienna - which, despite the Anschluss, was, and still is, in Austria. Why he presumed that my strong feeling of Jewish identity meant that I must have been born in Germany baffles me. Surely the German Jews wanted to integrate with their fellow countrymen more than the Jews did in any other European country. Have I been wrong in believing this all these years?
Peter Phillips, Loudwater, Herts


Sir – Re the article ‘In memory of Herbert Sulzbach’ (February), I took over his position as senior interpreter in Scotland. I got to know him quite well. We were a few weeks together before his transfer to England. He was very keen on re-education and encouraged me to approach this way with the collaboration of Col Faulk of MI9, the political intelligence department of the War Office. He deserved all the honours he received. It did not stop me from investigating any war crimes which may have been committed by the thousands of PoWs passing through the camps. I must have behaved like a ‘mensch’ because, before my transfer to the south, I was presented with a hand-carved chess set by the prisoners. Little did I know then what happened to my parents and brother!
Henry Grunfeld (formerly of Dortmund), Manchester

Sir – My late father, Martin Sulzbacher, knew Herbert Sulzbach quite well due to the similarity of names. In 1973 we bought his book on his experiences at the front in the First World War which he described with such patriotic fervour. We were also present at a lecture he gave and at which he produced a video of the ‘Gestapo List’. This showed the names of people who would be dealt with by the Gestapo when the Germans invaded England. His name was included and underneath was my own name. This was, of course, a Doppelgänger, whom I arranged to meet. He was no relation but a chemist who worked with Chaim Weitzmann.

Herbert Sulzbach and his wife were buried in the Christian Hampstead cemetery. Had he or his father converted to Christianity? Obviously he had not reconverted to Judaism on the rise of Nazism. Our admiration for his good work has diminished due to this sad fact.
Max Sulzbacher, London NW11


Sir – I attended the Holocaust Memorial Day event at Brent Town Hall. The programme made us think about the life we live today, about human nature, about the future. I regret that most of the 200 people there were of my generation – pensioners who remember well the Second World War and all the horrors of those years. What have we done wrong that younger people cannot find the time to attend a Sunday afternoon meeting to honour the past and learn from it?
Hana Nermut, Harrow


Sir – Some 10,000 Stolpersteine have been laid in Germany thus far (see article on page 5 – Ed.). Those who would like to find out more should contact Koordinierungsstelle ‘Stolpersteine’ für Berlin, c/o Gedenkstatte Deutscher Widerstand, Stauffenbergerstr. 13-14, 10785 Berlin, or contact Frau Frankenstein, tel 030/26 39 89 014, fax 030/26 99 50 10, email: stolpersteine@GDW-Berlin.de
Professor Leslie Baruch Brent, London N19


Sir – My husband Moss was born in the East End of London. I am getting ready to write his biography – illustrated as I am an artist. I have recently become very conscious of the fact that Moss is not the only ‘East Ender’ to have experienced a fascinating childhood in London, Germany, or wherever the winds of fate happened to blow them before, during and after the war. I would be delighted if anyone reading this letter would send me, via the AJR, a copy of their own experiences - no longer than 1,000 words. If chosen as suitable, these stories too will be illustrated and published.
Laura Meyer Levy, Wembley, Middx


Sir – I have never agonised about being of the Jewish race. Unlike Jack Lee (March), I would never put ‘White European’ on any form for fear of falling foul of the Trade Description Act or being accused of impersonating a member of the Aryan fraternity. What happens when they see my ponim and all is revealed? Mr Lee may be blond and blue-eyed but I went AWOL when these were distributed.
Frank Bright, Ipswich


Sir – Members of my family have been told of the ongoing care and consideration you gave to my cousin Angela Aranykovy over a long period. The AJR receives little publicity and no credit for the financial assistance it also provides for survivors. This is a great pity because you bring light and hope to the darkness of the later years of people such as Angela. For all this, I am deeply grateful.
Egon Philip, Haifa, Israel