Extracts from the Jan 2009 Journal

Who was Georg Elser?

The brief report in last month’s ‘Newsround’ column that a memorial has been erected in Berlin to Georg Elser, who made an attempt on Hitler’s life in Munich on 8 November 1939, probably passed without attracting much attention. The name Elser is almost unknown, certainly when compared to that of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, instigator of the bomb plot of 20 July 1944. Nevertheless, Elser, an ordinary working man, single-handedly came almost as close to killing Hitler as did Colonel Stauffenberg and his group of army officers, who had the advantage of frequent access to the Führer’s person and were motivated, by summer 1944, by the knowledge that Hitler was leading Germany to catastrophe. [more...]

Thank-Offering to Britain Research Fellowship

The British Academy Thank-Offering to Britain Fellowship for 2008/09 has been awarded to Dr Patricia Clavin, Fellow in History at Jesus College, Oxford, to carry out research on the role of the League of Nations in fostering international economic, financial and social co-operation. The Fellowship has been funded for some 40 years by money raised by the refugees from Nazi Germany through the Thank-You Britain Fund, administered by the AJR, which had raised £96,000 when it was handed over to the British Academy in 1965. The Fellowship aims to provide a year’s research leave for an established scholar to bring a major piece of research towards completion. Dr Clavin has already written about one of the most distinguished refugee scholars, Professor Moritz Bonn, himself a contributor to the Thank-You Britain Fund. Dr Clavin writes: [more...]

The getting of wisdom - the hard way

I’d have preferred the dreaming spires - of course I would. But I was 52 years old with a busy full-time job. I won’t add ‘and a home to run’ for, as all my friends know to their cost, I’ve never been much of a home-runner. And there it was, a tantalising option, the brainchild of Jennie Lee, still in its infancy: the Open University. [more...]

Recollections of Kristallnacht

Merely to have seen, at the age of seven years and eight months and 25 yards from my bedroom window, the setting on fire of the famous Schiffschul, one of Vienna’s 23 synagogues, and the desecration of its contents does not in itself confer any particular expertise on the subject of Kristallnacht. It does, however, lend a certain perspective to one’s recollections. [more...]

One of the original Righteous Gentiles

Shabbat 12 November 1938. We knew all Jewish men were being picked up and we awaited the dreaded knock on the door. [more...]

Miraculous intervention

I remember, as though it were yesterday, my mother saying ‘You’re going to go to England.’ What did I, a nine-year-old, know of England? That there was a picture in the newspaper of a man called a king with a crown on his head and that my pencil bore the legend ‘Made in England’. As an only child who had never been away from home, the prospect of going there left me in a flood of tears. [more...]

Art notes (review)

Like his modern successor, Saddam Hussein, Nebuchadnezzar wanted his city and his name to last forever. But was this emperor, who ruled from 605-562BC, the cruel tyrant described in the Old Testament – or was his name confused with that of the last Babylonian king, Nabonidus? According to the British Museum’s current exhibition, Babylon, the Bible has got it wrong. It blames Nebuchadnezzar rightly for the sack of Jerusalem and the consequent Jewish exile to Babylon in 587 BC, but thereafter muddles him up with his cruel successor. [more...]

AJR Report

Kinder pensions
The bill proposing an amendment to British pension law has now been accepted by Parliament and received Royal Assent following the Queen’s Speech at the beginning of December. The bill, tabled by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), will enable Kinder who wish to apply to have their UK pre-1948 credits removed from National Insurance records. In most cases, this in turn is likely to boost the value of their German pensions. The change could affect Kinder who entered employment between 1939 and 1948 in Britain. [more...]

A visit to the President

Because of my association with the internet newspaper the San Diego Jewish News, I was included in a delegation of contributors invited to interview President Shimon Peres. The meeting took place just one week before he visited England and was awarded a KBE, but this was not mentioned in the interview. [more...]

Letters to the Editor

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