Extracts from the Sep 2008 Journal

Three perspectives on Venice

‘Once did she hold the gorgeous East in fee;/And was the safeguard of the West: the worth/ Of Venice did not fall below her birth,/Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty.’ So begins Wordsworth’s poem ‘On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic’ (1802), written in reaction to the Napoleonic occupation which in 1797 had marked the end of the proud city’s independence. Wordsworth’s lament for the fall of ‘La Serenissima’ recalled the city’s dominance over the trade routes to the East on which its fabled wealth and power were founded. He also used the ‘democratic’ elements in the Venetian constitution – the Doge owed his office as head of state to election, not royal birth, and his powers were constrained by the city’s central body of government, the Signoria – to depict Venice as a freedom-loving victim of Bonapartist tyranny, and thus as an example to Britons fighting to preserve their freedoms from the French. [more...]

My beloved Quaker school

My beloved Quaker school
I had always thought that although I experienced some family tragedies, my life during the Nazi period was not worth recording in this journal, compared with the heart-breaking and horrendous memoirs written by others. [more...]

Art notes (review)

Light falling in a grid over rice paddy fields, anarchist marchers, angelic mothers and wild, wicked women – the Italian Divisionists say it all at the National Gallery’s Radical Light exhibition. Linking the discovery of optical science and the physics of light to the technique of dividing thin lines of colour, they also politicised their subject matter. [more...]

The Jews of Linz (review)

by Verena Wagner
Linz: Wagner Verlag, 2008, 2 vols. 1,476 pp. [more...]

Painting Kokoschka

My mother was 19 years old when she moved from Berlin to Vienna to marry her cousin. Berlin versus Vienna has always been a subject for mutual derision – Prussian rectitude against easy-going Habsburg. My future parents were perfect stereotypes: she, serious, motivated by the moral imperative from an early age – at 15 she volunteered for work in an institution for ‘fallen women’; my father, playful, witty, at home in the literary and musical culture of the day. He opened my mother’s ears to Wagner and Schoenberg and her mind to treasures of German literature from Goethe to Stefan George. And, although the visual arts loomed smaller in his sights, he had eye enough to have his writing paper and bookplate designed by a prominent artist and his house decorated and furnished by the iconic Adolf Loos. But his interests reached beyond the arts to the beauty he saw in the harmony of numbers, in great feats of engineering, and he wondered about the new psychology taught by Freud – so much so that he attended Freud’s lectures while studying for his law degree and asked for his views on the marriage of first cousins. Unfortunately, Freud’s letter in reply – my birth certificate as it were – was not kept by my parents, but he did not advise against, confining himself to the opinion that it might reinforce in their offspring the characteristics common to both parents. [more...]

AJR Report

Kindertransport pensions
After a long campaign spearheaded by former KT Chairman Hermann Hirschberger, certain Kindertransport refugees who fled to Britain, and whose parents were of German nationality, may be entitled to an increase in their German retirement pensions following a change in British pension law announced by the Minister for Pensions Reform, Mike O’Brien. [more...]

Letter from Israel

The problem of acute cognitive dissonance
Hardly surprisingly, a recent survey found that most Israelis have little confidence in the country’s political leadership. They have slightly more confidence - but still not much - in such institutions as the courts, the police, and the attorney general’s office. The current president, Shimon Peres, is perceived as being better than his predecessor - though, again, coming hard on the heels of a serial sexual offender, that can hardly be difficult. [more...]

Letters to the Editor

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