in the garden

 

Extracts from the May 2011 Journal

(Mis)understanding the Holocaust

There are fashions in history, as there are fashions in art, politics or miniskirts. The public image of historians as austerely devoted to trawling through dusty archives in pursuit of the holy grail of truth is misguided. The academic profession is as keen as any other to jump onto the latest bandwagon, to seize on the fashionable buzzwords and to deploy the latest tools of theory and analysis. Historians’ approaches to the Holocaust have accordingly varied very considerably over the decades, as one dominant current of historical interpretation has been succeeded by another. Of course, this is an integral part of the process of history-writing: only through the introduction of new ways of seeing, analysing and writing history can our understanding of historical events, figures and processes progress. [more...]

Seder in Bombay in 1944

In 1938 my parents, like many other Jews in Vienna, were frantically searching for a country that would issue a visa to let us in. One couldn’t just turn up at a border and claim to be an ‘asylum seeker’ - though goodness knows we were! Although all the countries of the world had different opinions on nearly everything, they were unanimous in not wanting any Jewish refugees. The wry joke of thumbing through the school atlas, coming to the end, and then asking ‘Where else is there?’ was not really funny. [more...]

Art notes (review)

The work of the late 17th-century Flemish artist Jean-Antoine Watteau anticipated both the essence of the French Rococo and the much later Impressionists. In Watteau: The Drawings, at the Royal Academy of Arts until 5 June, many sketches were intended as works in progress, yet this use of red, white and black chalk conveys both lightness and seriousness, making chalk go further than it had ever been used before. His drawings are considered the most extraordinary in Western art. [more...]

Setting Europe ablaze (review)

‘ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO A DANGEROUS JOB?’ AUF DEN SPUREN ÖSTERREICHISCHER UND DEUTSCHER EXILANTEN IM BRITISCHEN GEHEIMDIENST SOE (On the Track of Austrian and German Refugees in the British Secret Service SOE)
by Elisabeth Lebensaft and Christoph Mentschl
Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2010, 296 pp. [more...]

Felix Austria

Well, lucky for some, at any rate. I have recently returned from a trip to my native Vienna, having paid maybe half a dozen visits since the war. Not a regular caller, as you might gather. Most of these visits were on some kind of business and I kept them short and not particularly sweet. [more...]

Letter from Israel: Art and more

After several years of work, the reconstruction of the Israel Museum ended last summer when, amid fanfares and extensive publicity, the museum re-opened its doors to the public. We volunteers didn’t stop working during the period of renovation, but our activities were severely curtailed. So it was with great excitement and enthusiasm that we resumed our duties in the renewed museum. [more...]

Letters to the Editor

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