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16 Jan 2009 - Continental Britons at Burgh House

Continental Britons at Burgh House

Continental Britons at Burgh House

The AJR is delighted to announce that its ground breaking exhibition, Continental Britons, will be on deiplay at the Hampstead Museum, Burgh House from Thursday 29 January until Sunday 5 April 2009.

The exhibition, sponsored by the AJR in conjunction with the Jewish Museum was created in 2002 to mark both the sixtieth anniversary year of the Association of Jewish Refugees and the seventieth anniversary of the Jewish Museum.

Continental Britons: Jewish Refugees from Nazi Europe relates the remarkable and compelling story of the Jewish refugees who fled Nazi persecution in the German-speaking countries before World War II and came to Britain.

Illustrated throughout with documents, photographs, personal memoirs, artefacts and art works, and with a concise and authoritative commentary, the exhibition followed the journey of the refugees - how they arrived, where they settled, their experience of hostels, foster families and internment as ‘enemy aliens’. It also touched on the dilemmas and challenges faced by all refugees, past and present, such as the loss of a secure home, the difficulties of adjusting to a new culture and the reception by British society.

The remarkable contribution made by the refugees to their adopted homeland - as scientists, musicians, publishers and artists – was a highlight of the exhibition, as was an audio-visual installation relaying personal testimonies. Contributors included Andrew Sachs (Manuel in ‘Fawlty Towers’), who emigrated to Britain from Berlin in 1938, Lord Claus Moser, Norbert Brainin of the Amadeus Quartet, Anton Walter Freud (grandson of Sigmund Freud), who arrived in the UK from Vienna in 1938, and photographer Wolfgang Suschitzky, also from Vienna. Continental café society was evoked by means of a reconstruction of the Cosmo Restaurant, and an illustrated map of the Finchley Road recalled the heartland of a thriving refugee community.

The refugees’ story is often known only sketchily even by their own children, and is little remembered by the wider community. With a wide-ranging associated programme of lectures, visits, films, concerts and discussions, this exhibition aimed to help fill these gaps.

Continental Britons was a highlight of the Jewish Museum’s seventieth anniversary year. It was sponsored by and created in partnership with the AJR. The related programme of events was organised in conjunction with organisations including the Wiener Library, Imperial War Museum, London Jewish Cultural Centre, Jewish Music Institute, Ben Uri Gallery, the Freud Museum and the Refugee Council.

Copies of the Continental Britons book are available to purchase from the AJR priced £7.50.