Merilyn Moos has been in touch to remind those interested in the history of refugees of her three important books, all published in the last 5/6 years, which all relate in different forms to her being the child of political refugees from Nazism. The first is a semi-autobiographical novel: ‘The Language of Silence’, then came the biography of her father Siegi Moos: ‘Beaten but not defeated’ (he was a highly active anti-Nazi, a well- known if somewhat dissident member of the KPD and a published writer about the role of agit-prop in revolutionary struggle: his life illustrates the little known grass roots anti-Nazi activism of the years between 1929-33), and finally ‘Breaking the Silence’ an ethnographic study of the effects on the ‘second generation’ of being the children of refugees from Nazism, based on in-depth interviews. She would be happy to send out review copies of these books to those interested in reviewing them, and is happy to also speak to interested groups about them or issues relating to refugees and history today.
The Language of Silence, set in London in the early 21st century, provides a remarkable exploration of the personal consequences of political events and resistance, and how these impact across four generations of one family. It is a novel of immense power, shocking in its portrayal of family life, which nevertheless inspires hope for the future.
Siegi Moos, an anti-Nazi and active member of the German Communist Party, escaped Germany in 1933 and, exiled in Britain, sought another route to the transformation of capitalism. This biography charts Siegi’s life, starting in Germany when he witnessed the Bavarian uprisings of 1918/19 and moving to the later rise of the extreme right. We follow his progress in Berlin as a committed Communist and an active anti-Nazi in the well-organised Red Front, before much of the German Communist party (KPD) took the Nazis seriously, and his deep involvement in the Free Thinkers and in agit-prop theatre. The book also describes Siegi’s life as an exile: the loss of family, comrades, his first language and ultimately his earlier political beliefs. Against a background of the loneliness of exile, the political and the personal became indissolubly intertwined when Siegi’s wife, Lotte, had a relationship with an Irish/Soviet spy. Lastly, we look into Siegi’s time as a research worker at the prestigious Oxford Institute of Statistics at Oxford University from 1938, becoming an economic advisor under the Labour Prime Minister, Wilson, 1966-1970, and how, finally, after retirement, he returned to writing.
There has been extensive research into the impact of the Holocaust on the children of survivors who immigrated to the US and Israel. But very little work in this space has looked at children whose parents fled Nazi persecution before the Holocaust. Even less attention has been paid to those who ended up in Britain from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.What was the impact on this second generation? How have the lives of these ordinary people been shaped by their parents’ dislocation? Using a series of interviews with members of the second generation,Breaking the Silenceis a qualitative, interdisciplinary exploration how their lives were shaped by their parents’ escape from persecution. It offers an insight into how the exile and fear of persecution of the parents and the deaths/murder of unknown relatives has left this generation both bereft of memories and haunted by the past.
There is some historical information relating to The Socialist Standard, which has been published by the Socialist Party of Great Britain since 1904, on a new blog that we have been asked to share with LSHG members (for clarification, the LSHG does not have a position on the current factional issue within the SPGB which warrants this new blog itself) - for more on the history of the SPGB see The Monument: The Story of the Socialist Party of Great Britain by Robert Barltrop.
'The Battle of Wood Green’ 40 years on. Assessing the impact of anti-fascism
London Socialist Historians Group Open Forum
Monday 24 April 2017, 5.30pm
Institute of Historical Research
IHR Seminar Room N304, Third Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
All welcome - no need to book in advance
The Battle of Wood Green took place on Saturday 23 April 1977. A National Front march left Ducketts Common to march down Wood Green High Road. They were opposed by 3000 anti-fascists and large numbers of Saturday shoppers. Although there had been street skirmishes before, this was the first serious disruption of an NF march.
All are welcome to attend and discuss the Battle of Wood Green and its effect on the future of anti-fascist struggle leading up to the present day - free / donations welcome