Extracts from the Sep 2007 Journal

A good man in East Germany

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), set mostly in East Germany in 1984, derives much of its emotional and intellectual power from its cogent exposition of an underlying theme, that of the human potential for goodness. How does a man or woman become good? To what extent is goodness, or evil, the expression of an individual’s personality - a matter of human nature - and to what extent is it the product of the external conditions under which that individual has developed - a matter of social conditioning? [more...]

Point of View: Jewish in some respects

In what ways am I Jewish and in what ways am I not? In some respects, I have a choice; in other respects I do not. Having been born into a family that belonged to the Jewish community was an event beyond my choice. Having grandparents and parents who were largely estranged from Jewish practices led to my remaining non-circumcised until adulthood – again, no responsibility on my part. [more...]

Point of View: What is a Jew?

Only after I had been to the 1999 Kindertransport reunion did I realise the variety of experiences that met us bewildered, unaccompanied child refugees after we got off the train at Liverpool Street station. Some of us went to hostels run by the Jewish community, others to Christian families. I was one of the few to be fostered by a Polish-Jewish couple. They brought me up in total ignorance of my fellow German and Austrian refugees, who lived in ‘British West Hampstead’ and congregated at the Cosmo. [more...]

Austrian Fund doubled

In recognition of our achievement in disbursing emergency funds to Austrian Holocaust survivors, the AJR has learned that we will shortly receive $1.2m (£600,000) for distribution to Austrian Nazi victims until July 2008. [more...]

(Some) English spoken here

Anybody who speaks English is playing on the Stradivarius among languages. We refugees are fortunate to have access to this precious instrument, but of course we don’t all play it equally well. [more...]

Between you and I

If the odd Continental Briton says ‘I am in England for 70 years’ or ‘the aunt from my second cousin’, it’s entirely forgivable. After all, English is not our mother tongue, and tenses and prepositions are notoriously difficult to master in any language. Especially prepositions. But imagine my consternation when Jeremy Paxman said on Newsnight recently - not once but twice - ‘different to’. [more...]

A labour of love

Researched, written, illustrated and published by Gerhard Salinger, New York, 2006. 4 volumes, 1,213pp. Enquiries to Dr Rita Scheller, Husarenstr. 26, 30163, Hanover, Germany [more...]

Letter from Israel: Only in Israel…

Dorel Golan. That’s a name to remember. We first heard this talented young pianist at a music festival in Eilat in the winter, where she played Saint-Saëns’s second piano concerto with an aplomb and virtuosity that belied her 25 years. While playing brilliantly, she also managed to inject a sense of fun into the event, causing the audience to quiver with enjoyment. [more...]

A Hungarian phrase book for the second generation

The time is right to return to Hungary. Clutching my Hungarian phrase book, we touch down in the country I was born in but fled from during the 1956 Revolution. [more...]