George Weidenfeld, Baron Weidenfeld, Publisher, philanthropist, and columnist, Died at 96

Arthur George Weidenfeld, Baron Weidenfeld, GBE was born on September 13, 1919, in Vienna, Austria and died on January 20, 2016.

He was a British publisher, philanthropist, and newspaper columnist.

He attended the University of Vienna and the city’s Diplomatic College.

After the Anschluss (Germany’s annexation of Austria) in 1938, George moved to London and started working with the monitoring service of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Baron was a political commentator for the BBC and also wrote a weekly newspaper column, coming into contact with General de Gaulle and Tito as a result, in 1942.

shortly after, from 1949, Baron was away for a year as the political adviser and Chief of Cabinet to Chaim Weizmann, the first President of Israel.

After he became a British citizen in 1947, was knighted in 1969, and created a life peer on June 25, 1976, taking the title Baron Weidenfeld, of Chelsea in the County of Greater London.

Arthur was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for public service.

His other honours included Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford, Honorary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford, Hon. Fellow, King’s College London, and Honorary D.Litt. from the University of Exeter.

Weidenfeld was made an Honorary Senator of Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn, in 1996 and awarded the Degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, by Oxford University in 2010.

Baron received the German Knights Commanders Cross (Badge & Star) of the Order of Merit (1991), the Austrian Cross of Honour First Class for Arts and Science (2002), the Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the County of Vienna (2003), the Italian Grand Officer of the Order of Merit (2005) and the Order of Merit of the Land Baden-Württemberg (2008).

And also the Polish Foreign Minister awarded him with the Bene Merito distinction in 2011.

Authur holds the London Book Fair/Trilogy Lifetime Achievement Award for International Publishing in 2007.

He also received the Teddy Kollek Life Achievement Award in Jerusalem in 2009.

He married Annabelle Whitestone in 1992.

In 1948, he co-founded the publishing firm Weidenfeld & Nicolson along with Nigel Nicolson.

Meaning to start an upmarket political magazine, a mix of the New Statesman, Fortune and The New Yorker, they found that the post-war paper shortage made a book publishing concern more feasible, and the new firm was partly intended as a cover for the impractical magazine.

Following the years, the firm published many inscriptions, including the British edition of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita in 1959 and Nicolson’s own biography of his parents Portrait of a Marriage (1973).

In 1985, Mr.Weidenfeld’s publishing interests expanded to the United States, when he acquired the Grove Press in partnership with Ann Getty (wife of Gordon Getty).

Grove later merged with the New York division of Weidenfeld & Nicolson to form Grove Nicolson.

In 1991, Weidenfeld & Nicolson’s UK branch was sold to the Orion Publishing Group and became Orion’s main non-fiction imprint, with Weidenfeld as non-executive chairman.

In 1993 the US company, Grove Nicolson, combined with the Atlantic Monthly Press to form Grove/Atlantic Inc., and in 2005, he arranged the publication of Memory & Identity by John Paul II.

Mr.Weidenfeld was also the Joint Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford; Adviser to the Board of Axel Springer AG Berlin and a columnist for the Berlin newspapers Die Welt, Welt am Sonntag and Bild Zeitung.

In January 2006, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, originally founded as The Club of Three in the 1990’s and was founded with Mr.Weidenfeld as its president.

That particular network-based policy organisation works with global leaders in the private and public sectors to challenge the long-range threats to international and communal peace and to heighten Europe’s capacity to be a coherent and effective player.

In the year 2006, Baron initiated the Weidenfeld Scholarships and Leadership Programme in Oxford and, in 2010, founded the Humanitas Programme of Visiting Chairs at Oxford and Cambridge.

Mr. Weidenfeld served in many philanthropic capacities including Chairman of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev (1996–2004), Governor of the Weizmann Institute, Vice-Chairman of the EU-Israel Forum, member of the Founding Council of the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford, Trustee, Royal Opera House (1974–87) and Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery (1988–95).

He also established the “Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund”, which intends to support Christians fleeing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, however, its focus on Christians has caused some criticism.

George Weidenfeld, Baron Weidenfeld passed away at 96 yrs old.