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Book event: A Dual Perspective: Sir Konrad Schiemann and Sir Bernard Rix in Conversation

April 27, 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

The Wiener Holocaust Library is pleased to host this conversation between one of our patrons, The Rt Hon Sir Bernard Rix KC, and The Rt Hon Sir Konrad Schiemann about Schiemann’s recently published memoir A Dual Perspective: the German in an English Judge

Sir Bernard, whose father fled to England before the war was Sir Konrad’s contemporary in the High Court and the Court of Appeal and now practices as an arbitrator.

Sir Konrad, born of German parents, spent the war in Berlin being bombed by the British, became an orphan, and moved to England in 1946 and started, in his words, aping the manners of an English gentleman. After practicing at the bar, he became a High Court Judge, a Lord Justice in the Court of Appeal and finished his career as the British Judge of the European Court of Justice. After having his family and life in Germany torn apart by conflict he forged a career around his desire to help in the construction of a peaceful Europe.

It was only late in life that Konrad realised the extraordinary family into which he had been born including a great-great grandfather who presided over five parliaments and the first German Supreme Court and a great-grandfather who was a friend of the last Kaiser.

Piercing together extensive correspondence in the 1930s and 40s A Dual Perspective is the moving memoir of a family which has been involved in the construction of Europe since the first half of the nineteenth century and was faced with all the challenges posed by the Third Reich.

One of his grandfathers who joined the Nazi Party wrote letters, which are reproduced in the book, in 1933 to Konrad’s father, engaged to a lady of Jewish extraction who became Konrad’s mother, explaining why he has joined the Nazi Party and urging his son to do the same. However, Konrad’s father did not. That grandfather’s sister was an open opponent of the regime and has been recognised as one of the Righteous among the Gentiles. His mother worked with Count Berthold von Stauffenberg and describes the atmosphere among those who plotted to assassinate Hitler and expected to be executed when the plot to assassinate Hitler failed. Most, including many family friends, were. The book describes the tensions within the family which nonetheless remained united.

The book is a mixture of history, family memoir, philosophical and political reflections, describes an English education and upbringing in the last century and ends with a summary of the evolution of Konrad’s thoughts on national sovereignty and the European Union.

Moderated by: Dr Toby Simpson, Director of the Wiener Holocaust Library

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