Extracts from the Feb 2003 Journal

Two admirable blue stockings (editorial)

Exactly 100 years ago a plaque was affixed to the plinth of the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island. The inscription read: [more...]

Virtual reality

Though der Heim – the Yiddish-speaking heartland of Eastern Europe - vanished over half a century ago, it spawned a rich folklore, some of which fed into world culture. Prime examples are the legend of the Golem – the precursor of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – and the notion of demonic possession exemplified in Anski’s Dybbuk. [more...]

Lost in transit

At a recent ‘43 Club evening a member criticised the choice of Continental Britons as the title of last year’s exhibition at the Jewish Museum. His point was that we should define ourselves by the language and culture in which we had our roots, rather than by that into which we got pitch-forked. Warming to his theme, the speaker even found fault with his contemporaries for having omitted to pass on the German linguistic and cultural heritage to their children. Refugees who had totally anglicised themselves, he concluded, provided a vindication of the Nazi canard that Jews were not part of Germany. [more...]

Furs and Swells

One way or another, animal fur has played a small but not insignificant part in my life. It’s practically a banned substance in this country now, though one still sees it on the backs of women abroad. They probably haven’t been subjected to the poster campaign that shows how many dumb wild animals have to die to clothe a dumb human. When I tried to give away even a favourite suede jacket which no longer did up on me to my niece’s daughter, I was told the family had no use for animal skins. Do they wear clogs then, I wondered. Swears and Wells, Harrods and other stores which used to display in their windows models elegantly attired in mink and musquash have long since closed their doors or their fur departments and a transparent top rather than a white fur is now the badge of celebrity at a film premiere. [more...]

Denizens of shadowland

On general release, Stephen Frears’s Dirty Pretty Things has been – favourably – described as a film about London, not a single shot of which will boost tourism. A lot of the action unfolds inside a cavernous luxury hotel whose sinister, brooding ambience puts one in mind of Kafka’s Castle. [more...]

Engraver with gravitas (profile of Käthe Strenitz)

Everybody familiar with the story of ‘refugees from Nazi oppression’ has heard of the so-called Winton children, 669 Czech youngsters who arrived in the UK shortly before the war. The epithet ‘Winton’s children’ applies to them twice over, a) because Nicholas (now Sir Nicholas) Winton worked tirelessly for their rescue, and b) because he stood in loco parentis to all those orphans-to-be. [more...]

Central Office for Holocaust Claims

Compensation to French orphans

The French government now pays compensation to orphans whose parents were deported from France and died at the hands of the Nazis during the Second World War. [more...]

Sophie’s Choice: a major artistic achievement

Sophie’s Choice, an opera by Nicholas Maw based on the William Styron novel, received a warm reception at its premiere at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Among the singers was Angelika Kirschlager as Sophie, part of a superb cast, conducted with fervent intensity by Sir Simon Rattle in an imaginative and well-acted staging by Trevor Nunn. [more...]