in the garden

 

Sep 2011 Journal

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AJR’s 70th Anniversary Celebrations: Reception at Austrian Ambassador’s Residence

A reception at the Austrian Ambassador’s Residence in London’s Belgrave Square in July provided a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the 70 years’ existence of the AJR and the remarkable contribution the refugees have made to Britain.

Dr Emil Brix, the Austrian Ambassador, said that the AJR had ‘great achievements’ to its credit since its founding days, having helped tens of thousands of refugees from Austria newly arrived in Britain. Yet it was important, he stressed, for Austria to face its past and it was doing that. Jewish life, he said, was thriving again in Austria, Jewish cemeteries were being restored, and many Holocaust survivors were ‘going into Austria’s schools to tell tomorrow’s generation of that dark chapter in Austrian history.’ He congratulated the AJR on ‘70 years of impressive, unflinching and tireless work’.

AJR Chairman Andrew Kaufman noted that the refugees excelled in numerous areas of life, including art, politics, science and medicine as well as law, cinematography, architecture and literature. They had also brought their ‘distinctive cultural identity’, perhaps best represented by Vienna-born Rudolf Bing, who could take credit for establishing both the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and the Edinburgh Festival. While ‘our shared history is seared into our consciousness’, Andrew said, in all the events the AJR had organised to mark its 70th anniversary, it had emphasised that these were opportunities ‘to celebrate the seminal achievements and remarkable contributions’ the Jewish refugees had made to this country.

Edward Timms, Research Professor in History at the University of Sussex Centre for German-Jewish Studies, gave a brief introduction to his book Taking Up the Torch: English Institutions, German Dialectics and Multi-Cultural Commitments, whose publication coincided with the AJR’s anniversary.



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