To commemorate the 80th anniversary of WW2 British refugee internment, featuring interviewees interned in mainland Britain, the Isle of Man, Canada, Australia, Shanghai (Japanese internment) & North Africa. Visit AJR Refugee Voices Microsite.
His Majesty’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens
Internment documentary, 1991
Refuge and Renewal – Migration and British Art
A film tour of an exhibition that explores the influence that artists who came to Britain as refugees have had on the development of art practice here over the past 150 years. This important exhibition opened at MOMA Machynlleth on the 14th of March 2020. It was to run until June but due to Covid-19 lockdown it was only open for a couple of days. Curated by Peter Wakelin, this exhibition is a partnership with MOMA Machynlleth and RWA, supported by the Richard and Ann Mayou Fund and the Lambert Family Trust.
This is the film version of a site-specific performance that took place at Trent Park, Enfield, in 2012. It was created by the Pascal Theatre Company, working with the Jewish Military Museum, the Wiener Library and the Jewish Museum.
Between 1942 and 1945, this magnificent stately home housed high-ranking German POWs, who to all appearances were treated handsomely. Little did they know, however, that in the basement, their conversations – which were of huge importance to British Military Intelligence – were being recorded (and translated) by the ‘secret listeners’, nearly all of them Jewish refugees from Nazi-dominated Europe. Nearly seventy years would elapse before this extraordinary story could begin to be told.
Plans are now afoot to turn part of the building into a museum commemorating its remarkable and still too little-known wartime history. See Trent Park Museum for further details.
The Ballad of the Cosmo Café
A taster clip (filmed by Andrew Snell with Eileen Hughes) from the sell-out production at St. Peter’s Church Hall, Belsize Park, November 2019.
Insiders/Outsiders: Refugees From Nazi Europe & Their Contribution to British Culture
Filmed as part of Jewish Book Week, featuring Monica Bohm-Duchen, Anna Nyburg, Daniel Snowman.
King’s Place, London on 6 March 2019
The Émigrés who transformed the British Art World: Brave New Visions
Interviews with the descendants of three émigré art dealers filmed by Andrew Snell
Interviews conducted by Sue Grayson Ford
Crane Kalman Gallery
Andrew and Sally Kalman describe their father’s brave attempt to open a modern art gallery in an old air-raid shelter in Manchester in 1949. In the early days, Andras Kalman used a sandwich-board for publicity and strapped Sutherland paintings and Moore sculptures to his car roof but with the timely support of L S Lowry he eventually made a success of it. He opened the Crane Kalman Gallery in Knightsbridge in 1957 featuring mainly modern British artists like Ben Nicholson. Kalman, who lost most of his family to the Holocaust, was also a pioneering collector of early British Folk Art and this collection is now housed at Compton Verney in Warwickshire.
René Gimpel tells the story of his family’s remarkable exploits during the second world war with the British Army at El Alamein and Monte Cassino and, undercover, with the Special Operations Executive, The Baker Street Irregulars. He reveals how the Gimpel Fils gallery was set up in 1946 using proceeds from the sale of old master paintings that had amazingly survived the Blitz hidden in a garage in Paddington. René believes it was precisely because they were outsiders with a different cultural heritage that so many Jewish émigrés from Europe chose to champion modern art after the war. He describes the privilege of working with artists, who, he says, have a different way of “reading images” and of working with clever, knowledgeable collectors like David Bowie.
Annely Juda Fine Art
“Hitler was a painter, but not a very good one.” With these words, perhaps not surprisingly, David Juda’s grandfather found himself imprisoned and his business appropriated by the Nazis. Annely, David’s mother even heard Hitler giving a speech at her school in Kassel in Germany but, David says, she was always eager to embrace the future and in later years showed no bitterness towards her homeland. She set up Annely Juda Fine Art in Soho with David in 1967 and they established a reputation for championing Central European Modernism and the new generation of British abstract artists. “Bad figurative art” said Annely “is a lot worse than any abstract art” and she earned in David’s words a reputation for being “honest, knowledgeable and correct,” a legacy he seeks to continue.
Brave New Visions: Opening Panel Discussion
This video, from Sotheby’s in London, celebrated the exhibition Brave New Visions, which paid homage to the pioneering émigré dealers who revolutionised Britain’s art world.
The panel discussion features Sir Nicholas Serota, Gill Hedley and René Gimpel, and moderator Monica Bohm-Duchen.
Hans Feibusch Interview
Interview by Prof. Vaughan Grylls, Kent Institute of Art & Design (1995)
Singing a Song in a Foreign Land (RCM: oral history interviews, biographical notes and performance footage)
A Stroll Down… Charing Cross Road
Take a virtual stroll down 1930s Charing Cross Road with renowned photographer and cinematographer, Wolfgang Suschitzky (1912 – 2016), using this link: A Stroll Down… Charing Cross Road
Running north from London’s Trafalgar Square to St Giles Circus lays Charing Cross Road, named by its local residents and christened by the Duke of Cambridge in 1887. Already renowned for its bookshops and further popularised by the opening of Foyles in 1906 (still resident at no.107 today), Charing Cross Road became a mecca for bookworms in the early twentieth century. Booksellers lined the street, from Antiquarian cabinets of curiosities such as Marks and Co. (immortalised by the 1970 film 84 Charing Cross Road), to crime and mystery specialists Murder One.
It is no wonder then that London’s literary hubbub caught the eye of Viennese documentary photographer and cinematographer, Wolfgang Suschitzky. Emigrating to the UK in 1935, Suschitzky found delight and inspiration in the concentration of such trade in one area, and soon started documenting everyday activity in and around Soho. He did so with his father in mind, who had established the first socialist bookshop in Vienna, and sadly passed away not long after Suschitzky’s arrival in Britain.
Women Refugee Photographers in Britain after 1933
During the 1930s, more than 70,000 refugees came to Britain from Nazi-dominated Europe. Amongst those escaping anti-Semitic and political persecution were a surprising number of women photographers. These women brought fresh, modernist perspectives that opened up British photography in the decades that followed.
Another Eye is the first UK exhibition to bring together work by this group of women, and explore their collective influence on British photography. It is an opportunity to see original prints and work by established photographers Dorothy Bohm, Gerti Deutsch, Elsbeth Juda, Lotte Meitner-Graf, Lucia Moholy, Gerty Simon and Edith Tudor-Hart, and to discover work by Inge Ader, Anneli Bunyard, Elisabeth Chat, Laelia Goehr, Lisel Haas, Heidi Heimann, Erika Koch, Betti Mautner, Bertl Sachsel and Lore Lisbeth Waller.
Berlin/London: The Lost Photographs of Gerty Simon
The Wiener Holocaust Library received a large number of Gerty Simon’s original prints of portraits taken in Berlin and London from the estate of her son Bernard (Bernd), along with documents relating to her life and work. In 2019, The Wiener Holocaust Library staged an exhibition on Gerty Simon’s life and work featuring many of her original prints.
In 2021, a version of the exhibition will be shown at Villa Liebermann, where, for the first time in 80 years, the work of this pioneering photographer will be brought to public attention in Berlin.
As amply demonstrated by the recent show at Four Corners, London, John Heartfield (1891–1968) was one of the most important and innovative political satirical artists to use his work to oppose Fascism. His posters and book covers for the Malik-Verlag and magazine covers for the Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung (AIZ) are essential components of the political iconography of the Weimar Republic as well as of anti-Fascist exile, both in Prague and in London.
More than 6,000 works from Heartfield’s estate are preserved in the Art Collection at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, over 4,000 of which are now accessible to the public online. Although the exhibition planned for the Akademie building on Pariser Platz has been adversely affected by the Coronavirus crisis, a virtual exhibition is now available under the title Cosmos Heartfield.
The Kitchener Camp
The Kitchener Camp has been largely forgotten today, but in 1939 this derelict army base on the Kent coast became the scene of an extraordinary rescue which saved 4,000 men from the Holocaust.
During Kristallnacht in November 1938, 25,000 – 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. They were subjected to starvation and torture, and hundreds died or were killed. A condition of release from the camps was that the men had to undertake to leave Germany immediately. As country after country refused to take more refugees, the Kitchener rescue began. It was founded and run by the same, mainly Jewish aid organisations that funded and coordinated the Kindertransport and Domestic Service Visa schemes.
This website has been created by Julia Crockatt to share the photographs of her grandmother, Laelia Goehr, one of the many women photographers who came to the UK in the 1930s as a Jewish refugee from Germany. She took up photography seriously when she started war work in the 1940s and continued until the 1980s.
Many of her photographs have been seen and published, such as her well-known portrait of her mentor, Bill Brandt; others are in the family archive and have not been seen for many years, if ever.
It has been a fascinating journey for Julia, piecing together the story of someone who was a refugee not once but twice over, who on arrival in the UK had to start again in a new place with yet another language, and who with determination and hard work became a successful and well published photographer.
Sotheby’s Brave New Visions Catalogue
Click here for details of recent books on topics relevant to the theme of Insiders/Outsiders
Refugee architects of the inter-war period – can you contribute?
Valeria Carullo, Curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects, has recently started a research project based on the activities of the RIBA Refugee Committee, set up in 1939 in response to the sharp rise in requests for admission to the country from Central European architects. The RIBA Collections hold a significant number of photographs and drawings sent by some of the applicants to strengthen their case – material remarkable not only for its poignant association with a difficult period of European history but also for the access it grants us to the work of lesser known continental architects of the inter-war period. The first phase of this research focussed on the committee’s activities, with the aim of highlighting the cultural attitudes of the British architectural establishment at the outbreak of the Second World War. The second phase consisted in the creation of a comprehensive list of all the architects that were brought to the attention of the committee, and any personal details to be found in the Committee papers or through research in the RIBA Library. The research will then progress further by utilizing the resources of other institutions, both in Britain and abroad; however, a great contribution could also come from individuals who have direct or indirect knowledge of architects who succeeded (or tried) to emigrate to Britain as a result of the rise of Nazism and Fascism in the inter-war period.
If you have any information that you think might be useful, or would like to hear more about the research, please contact:
Curator, The Robert Elwall Photographs Collection
RIBA British Architectural Library
Email: Valeria Carullo
BBC Radio 4 Archive: The Story of EH Gombrich
BBC Radio 4 Archive: Pevsner: Through Outsider’s Eyes
BBC Radio 4 Archive: Missing Isaiah Berlin
BBC Radio 4 Front Row: Antonia Fraser on George Weidenfeld, following his death, 2016, age 96
BBC Radio Recordings: Jewish Emigrants from Nazi Germany to UK
Belonging and Not Belonging: Émigré Artists in Britain after 1933
Monica Bohm-Duchen, Creative Director of the nationwide Insiders/Outsiders Festival, considers the experiences of the artists who found refuge in this country from Nazi persecution. Recorded at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, UK, on Thursday 26 September 2019.
VE Day Commemoration
A recording of an online conversation between Dr. Helen Fry and Robin Lustig, hosted by the AJR on 5 May, about the important but still insufficiently acknowledged contribution of Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe to the British war effort.
The Hitler Émigrés: interviews by Daniel Snowman
During the late 1990s, as Daniel Snowman began work on his book The Hitler Emigrés: The Cultural Impact on Britain of Refugees from Nazism, he recorded interviews with some of the most distinguished among the émigrés, many of them by that time in their late 70s and 80s. Among them were artists, architects, musicians, film makers, photographers, authors, publishers, broadcasters, philosophers, historians, scientists and others who had been actively involved in the promotion of Britain’s cultural, artistic and intellectual life. Many of these interviews are now available online – uncut and unedited – in the sound archives of the Imperial War Museum.