Extracts from the Jan 2004 Journal

New year, new challenges (editorial)

In the December 2003 issue we featured a letter about Lady Diana Mosley from her nephew Patrick Guinness which shows the breadth of our readership. What it also demonstrates is the inability of liberal-minded Westerners to grasp the full extent of evil. The writer is a sensitive person capable of empathising with his refugee father-in-law's pain. However, his comment that his aunt did not personally kill anyone hardly chimes with Lord Moyne's (and others') testimony - as revealed in Public Record Office documents - that she outdid even her husband in blind fanaticism. Alas, 60 years on, evil - and its driving forces, blind dogma and lust for power - are still abroad in the world. [more...]

Under Nelson's blind eye

Wine-befuddled Viennese are wont to extol the city's land-mark in a song listing the varied sights 'St Stephen's Tower/has looked down on since its darkest hour.' A corresponding medley of scenes which Nelson's Column has witnessed would probably start in 1883 with the 'Bloody Sunday' riot of the unemployed. It would continue with the Peace Pledge Union (PPP) meeting of 1937, at which Aldous Huxley exhorted his 70,000-strong audience not to bear arms in any future war, and end with Colin Jordan's (sparsely attended) Jew-baiting rally of 1962. [more...]

Pike to Wolf - the fauna of Jewish surnames

In changing his name to Bernard Howard, the pre-war Romanian immigrant Bernat Hecht unconsciously imitated the Hungarian Communist leader Matyas Rakosi. The latter, born Matyas Schwarz, had adopted a nom de guerre which sounded both authentically Magyar and aristocratic (Prince Rakoczy, Hungary's most famous soldier, inspired Berlioz's famous Rakoczy March). And just as Schwarz could literally have been translated as Nagy, so Hecht could have been rendered as Pike. As for Howard, in addition to sounding impeccably Anglo-Saxon, it also conveyed a faintly aristocratic aura. Castle Howard is, after all, one of the most illustrious stately homes in the land - up there alongside Chatsworth and Blenheim Palace. [more...]

Central Office for Holocaust Claims

East Germany property list

Further to articles which have recently appeared in AJR Journal, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (JCC) has published a list of Jewish owners of properties in what became East Germany - including East Berlin - after the Second World War. Many of these properties had been confiscated in accordance with Nazi racial laws. [more...]

Art Notes

Once the lid of political oppression is lifted, you expect to see previously forbidden creative talent, expressing itself in an outburst of ideas, colour and vitality. Thus, the music of Purcell in Restoration Britain, and the musical theatre revived by Charles II after Cromwell's Puritan grip was loosened. The Avantgarde Gallery in Boundary Road this month shows the post-glastnost young artists of St Petersburg, expressing their liberty in much more muted tones. This cautious show, well-named Past and Present, has some gifted artists like Evgeny Kuznetzov looking back with gentle, not mawkish, nostalgia, some of it of the industrial variety. City, painted last year, features a young man with windblown hair against a background of pylons. But there is no artistic backlash against the propaganda art which has always characterised repressive regimes, from the Nazis to the Stalinists. There are legions of monasteries painted by Kuznetzov, Alexander Anisin and Andrey Cherepanov among others - elegant interiors, romantic, winding rivers, boats, sun and seas, and still-lifes. Alexey Korobin's Academy of Fine Arts is very fine, and a chiarascuro portrayal of Seven Wise Virgins by Igor Kozhevnikov is clearly classical in style. [more...]

RG's Interface

Studies in contrast Among the continuing flood of books on the Third Reich John Cornwell's Hitler's Scientists (Viking) stands out. It contrasts the physicist Walter Gerlach's sobs on hearing about Hiroshima - not because of the sufferings of the victims, but because he and his colleagues had failed to develop a German atomic bomb - with the action of Joseph Rotblat, the only scientist at Los Alamos who resigned when he found out that Germany didn't have atomic weapons. [more...]

Letter from Israel

Israel's founding fathers not only sought to establish a homeland for the dispersed Jewish people, they also wanted to create a society based on egalitarian principles. Their ideals underlay much of the success of Israel's early years. In time, however, many of these principles were discredited or found to be unworkable. After teetering on the economic brink for years, Israel seemed to be entering a new era of prosperity in the 1990s. There were even hopes of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. [more...]

Being nosey about Fagin

The subject of noses has always held great fascination for me (and not for me alone - think of what Pascal said about the effect of Cleopatra's nose on world history!). I treasure such arcane bits of nasal knowledge as the Danish astronomer Tycho de Brahe's acquisition of a silver nose after a duelling opponent had sliced off part of his proboscis. [more...]

Great - but not necessarily Booker-approved - books

First the good news about the Big Read. Thanks to the publicity generated by the BBC competition, book sales nationwide have gone up appreciably. 'It has given the industry a huge boost,' said a Waterstone spokesperson. [more...]

Austrian compensation fund eligibility extended

Eligibility for payments from the Austrian Reconciliation Fund, established in November 2000 and endowed with €436 million (£300 million), has been extended to include Holocaust survivors who were forced to watch their close relatives scrubbing the streets as a measure of Nazi persecution in Vienna and other Austrian cities. [more...]