The Hitler Emigrés: The Cultural Impact on Britain of Refugees from Nazism

Manson, said that Henry Moore would only enter the gallery over his dead body. Yet by , Moore had become the star turn at the Festival of Britain.


From now on, in Britain, as on the continent, modernism was the status quo. This tale is usually told as a story with a happy ending, a triumph of progressive values over reactionary, fuddy-duddy conservatism. Before the war, British culture was much more staid, but more in tune with public opinion.


The Hitler émigrés: the cultural impact on Britain of refugees from in the history of the Second World War, Hitler, Nazism and the Holocaust;. The Hitler Emigrés is the story of those Central Europeans, many of them Jewish, who escaped the shadow of Nazism, found refuge in Britain and made a.

Since our artistic institutions have become much more Middle European: The cognoscenti may flock to the latest show at the White Cube, but beyond the metropolitan bubble the feeling persists that most modern art is obscure and somehow foreign. It was no surprise that this architectural style failed to take root in Britain. Introducing a Gropius exhibition at Riba, in , the British architect Raymond Unwin teased the Germans for their devotion to theories. The British cultural style has always been discreet and understated — ironic, self-effacing, instinctively wary of radical innovations or big ideas.

Like Auerbach, my father emigrated from Germany to Britain when he was a boy.

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He arrived a decade later, a refugee from a defeated Reich. Like Auerbach, he became an artist. Auerbach was one of his teachers, at Camberwell Art School. Arts feature German refugees transformed British cultural life - but at a price German-speaking emigres like Frank Auerbach dragged British culture into the 20th century.

But that didn't go down well in Stepney or Stevenage William Cook.

The Hitler Emigres

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They ignore the detachment from the single national realities and their specific cultural and political conditions including the, often traumatic, moment of escape. Rudolf Bing helped to establish Glyndebourne and the Edinburgh Festival based on his memories of Salzburg. Loose Ends and Extras Frontline Books, , p. The author analyzes some features of the experience of Italian exiles in the United States starting from a comparative approach. The British cultural style has always been discreet and understated — ironic, self-effacing, instinctively wary of radical innovations or big ideas. Years later, another intellectual, Edward Said, reflected on the condition of exile. Like Auerbach, my father emigrated from Germany to Britain when he was a boy.

What to read next. Many subsequently changed their names and even their accents. The trappings of orthodoxy - beards, sidelocks - left them exposed to anti-semitic abuse.

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Accused of the Ripper murders of , they were perceived as dragging a trail of slime and the 10 plagues of Egypt through Christian London. By a bitter irony, the descendants of these diaspora Ashkenazim resented the airs and graces of the assimilated Jews who came to Britain after Could Anglo-Jewry have done more to help them?

This vexed question is never really answered by Snowman. In their defence, the apprehension of massacre came slowly to British Jews: A turning point was reached for European Jewry when, on the night of November , synagogues across Germany were set ablaze.

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Jews were murdered, thousands carried off to the camps, their houses, shops and other properties destroyed. The resulting devastation inspired the Nazis to name this outrage Kristallnacht , "night of the broken glass", a term chosen to belittle the damage done and mock the victims. Kindertransport saved the lives of nearly 10, youths, most of them Jewish - among them the film director Karel Reisz.

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For years, German Jews especially had believed they were untouched by Jew-hatred: Now shattered plate glass lay strewn on the Aryan streets of Berlin. But given money and contacts, the place to flee to was Britain; it was seen as a bastion of civil liberties. However, there could be comic misunderstandings on arrival in Britain. The Jewish publisher George Weidenfeld was surprised when a London society hostess asked him: Did you know the Goerings?

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According to Snowman, the most brilliant minds came to Britain in the wake of the Hitlerite terror. Under them, publishing houses changed from gentlemanly family firms into resourceful, mass-market enterprises. It was news to me that that the Edinburgh festival was founded in by the Viennese music agent Rudolf Bing, and that the Glyndebourne Festival was set up by the German opera enthusiasts Carl Ebert and Fritz Busch.