Holocaust survivors told: no room at memorial

By Jessica Elgot, July 14, 2011

A partially-sighted Holocaust survivor has been told she is no longer able to attend a commemoration event at the Austrian Embassy in the UK because it was "full up," although her daughter had flown from New York to join her and she herself had come down from Glasgow.

An invitation to a July 20 reception with Austrian Ambassador Emil Brix, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Association of Jewish Refugees, was advertised to Holocaust survivors with "a strong Austrian connection".

But many survivors have been told: "Sorry, we are fully booked" and 50 are now on the waiting list. Around 100 survivors, who responded early enough, will be at the reception. But the AJR advertised the event in its journal - and the response overwhelmed the embassy.

Vivien Lobell flew from her home in New York to accompany her Vienna-born mother Alice Malcolm, 87, who is partially-sighted. But, just one week before the event, and despite previously welcoming their attendance, AJR director Michael Newman told her they could no longer attend.

Mrs Lobell said: "Even now, these survivors are getting aggravation. It is utterly absurd. I'm not sure what the organisers were thinking – did they assume these people were all dead already?"

Mrs Malcolm, who fled Nazi-occupied Austria aged 14, travelled from Glasgow for the event. She said: "I will be furious if I don't get in now, after all this palaver."

Martin Reichard, counsellor at the Austrian Embassy, said: "We have to make sure the event is comfortable for octogenarians. We have given priority to survivors."

Last updated: 2:02pm, July 14 2011