Jewish Country Houses and the Holocaust in History and Memory

Brno, Czech Republic

Convened by Dr Jaclyn Granick (Cardiff), Professor Cyril Grange (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Professor Abigail Green (Oxford), Petr Svoboda (National Heritage Institute, CZ)

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In the UK and continental Europe, the country house has become a powerful symbol of national identity, evoking the glamorous world of the landowning aristocracy. The history of these properties is centrally connected to the history of antisemitism and the Holocaust because the families who built, shaped and lived in them formed a group for whom the myths about Jewish wealth, solidarity and power that fed antisemitic conspiracy theories had a particular salience. This did not hinder the numerous acquisitions of such properties by Jewish economic elites, testifying to the prevalence of the model of the aristocratic landlord among a population in search of integration. The Jewish Country Houses Project has held several international conferences to explore various facets of this subject, including the Jewish Bourgeoisie in the Countryside, Jewish Dealers and the European Art Market, Jewish Collectors and Patterns of Taste, and Jewish Business Dynasties.

This Brno conference investigated the fate in the Holocaust of Jewish country houses and the people who inhabited them. It explored memory cultures that emerged afterwards and the Cold War context that shaped them. The conference addressed and supported curatorial, artistic, and narrative practices telling the difficult stories of genocide linked to these properties. As it does so, it brought together academic historians, heritage professionals, and artists over three days at the Methodological Centre of Modern Architecture at the Villa Stiassni in Brno, Czech Republic, on May 10-12, 2023. The built heritage of the Villa Stiassni, visits to the nearby villas Tugendhat and Löw-Beer, and an exploration of the experiences and memories of the Czech Jewish industrialist families who inhabited and fled from them was an integral part of the conference.

This was an event of the Jewish Country Houses project, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, with assistance from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and in partnership with the National Heritage Institute, Czech Republic.

Download the Call for Papers as a PDF document here

Read the full Conference Report by Charlotte Canizo and Matilda Eriksson here