George (Georg) Clare

Is your surname Clare?

Research the Clare family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Related Projects

George (Georg) Clare (Klaar)

Birthplace: Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Death: March 26, 2009 (88)
London, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Ernst Klaar and Stella Ernestyne Klaar
Husband of Christel Clare
Ex-husband of Lisl Clare

Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About George (Georg) Clare

Obituary: George Clare Born Vienna, December 21, 1920. Died London, March 26, 2009.

April 16, 2009 Follow The JC on Twitter Writer George Clare sprang to public attention in 1981 when he published his poignant and detailed account of his Viennese parents’ and grandparents’ lives, Last Waltz in Vienna. Its overnight success, in Austria as well as Britain, staggered him. He had written the book to explain to his children the background that formed their lost heritage. He had spent his first 17 years in Austria and only gradually overlaid it with the patina of an English country gentleman, acquired partly through living in Suffolk for over 20 years. But the casually studied elegance hid a painful past. The subtitle of his book was The Destruction of a Family 1842-1942. Georg Klaar came from the upper bourgeoisie. His medical great-grandfather was the first Jew to reach high military rank as an army surgeon. His grandfather was an eminent doctor. But rampant antisemitism was a fact of life in Austria. His grandfather would have been a court physician if he had been less obstinate about converting. But while never religious, he drew the line at becoming Catholic. George’s grandmothers were formidable women. His father, Ernst, was a banker. His mother, Stella, was highly cultured. Detail by painstaking detail, George painted their easy lives, then described how it was all ripped apart. A few months after the Anschluss, the Nazi takeover in March 1939, his parents went to the Irish embassy in Berlin to get visas. Friends had set up a ribbon factory in County Longford and nominated the Klaars as essential skilled workers. Ireland did not admit Jewish refugees but a kindly secretary stamped their visas without the consul’s knowledge. George never found out her name. He took his mother to Ireland but his father elected to go to the French branch of his bank. They never dreamed France would be unsafe. George’s mother left Ireland to join her husband. Although he knew that both his parents died at Auschwitz, it was only in 1974 that he discovered his mother had voluntarily joined her husband. His father’s name, but not his mother’s, was on the French border gendarmerie list of people for rounding up and deporting. They were a devoted couple. George left Ireland for England, joined the British Army in the Pioneer Corps as an enemy alien, then switched to the Royal Artillery, where he rose to the rank of captain and anglicised his name. At the end of war he was seconded to the Allied Control Commission. Initially used as an interpreter for interrogating Nazis, he became responsible for establishing Germany’s new independent press, under the title of British Press Controller, Intelligence Section of British Information Services Control, Berlin. He described his experiences in his 1989 book, Berlin Days 1946-47, in which he observed that Germans felt some responsibility for their actions. Austrians, on the other hand, “mentally mislaid the Hitler years”. One German who applied to start up a paper was the future press baron Axel Springer. Soon after George returned to England and became a journalist on the Manchester Guardian, Springer offered him a job in his expanding empire. In 1953 he became head of the Bonn-based British Features Agency. In 1954 he set up Springer’s Feature Services in Press, Photo and Radio, and was editor-in-chief until 1963. In 1960 he co-founded the Springer Foreign News Service. He became a close friend of Springer and was a director until retiring in 1983. The work meant that he commuted from London, often staying long periods in Germany. The situation put a strain on his marriage, as his wife, Lisl, hated the idea of living in Germany. Lisl Beck was his childhood sweetheart. She had escaped to Britain independently and they married during the war. They divorced in 1965 and she survives him. He then married Christel Vorbringer, a Berlin-born Lutheran, who had been his Foreign News Service secretary in Britain. George Clare’s surprise success won him the 1982 WH Smith Literary Prize. The book was serialised in translation for Austrian radio and he was interviewed on Austrian TV. At Jewish Book Week, in which he was involved for several years, he said he did not write out of “compulsive nostalgia” but to make his children realise the length and depth of their history. The Nazis could rob the Jews of their heritage but not their past. He also realised as he got older that he could not cut off his early years. They were an integral part of his life and identity. He was stickler for accuracy in the use of emotive terms. He spoke of mass murder rather than Holocaust with its sacrificial overtones. To him the term war crimes was misleading. The Jews had not attacked or declared war on Germany. He felt strongly that careless phrases belittled the enormity of the real crimes against Jews and made it easier for Hitler’s apologists to promote their views. The epilogue to Last Waltz blames the early church for robbing Jesus of his Jewish identity, an act which he calls a sin and crime. Clare accused the church fathers of projecting their deep-felt guilt onto Jesus’s fellow-Jews, thereby creating religious antisemitism. He is survived by his second wife and their daughter; two daughters and a son from his first marriage; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

George Clare, who died on March 26 aged 88, was the author of two elegiac volumes of memoirs which recount his Viennese boyhood and the deportation of his parents to Auschwitz; they then describe his return to Berlin after the war as part of the British Army of Occupation. 6:32PM BST 12 Apr 2009CommentsComment Last Waltz in Vienna (1980) tells how he was born Georg Klaar on December 21 1920 into an assimilated bourgeois family which wore its Jewish faith lightly and was immensely proud of Austro-German culture. At first, after Hitler came to power in Germany, there seemed to be little panic; 15-year-old Georg read Mein Kampf and thought how Hitler was spouting nonsense when he wrote of "Jew boys" lurking on street corners to seduce innocent Aryan maidens. No girls took any notice of this Jewish boy, Georg reflected. George Clare But after a plebiscite on whether to retain an independent Austria was abandoned under pressure from the Germans, he watched from his father's study as a man was mercilessly beaten by a policeman. Swastikas appeared everywhere and Jews were rounded up to clean streets. When Hitler made a triumphant visit after the Anschluss had been overwhelmingly endorsed, Clare recalled: "The whole city behaved like an aroused woman, vibrating, writhing and sighing lustfully for orgasm and release." By then his father had lost his senior position in a bank and had started to make arrangements for the family to go to Ireland, where a friend had a ribbon factory. When they moved to Berlin to await their visas, Georg was bemused to find far less hostility than in Vienna: the policemen were friendly, and the family went unmolested to restaurants and theatres. When he and his mother left for Ireland, his father took a banking job in Paris, with the encouragement of Georg, who told him that the Germans could never defeat the French. Optimistic, Georg's mother left Ireland to rejoin his father, but after the Blitzkrieg in May 1940, the Klaars retreated to the Ardèche, where Klaar senior was arrested and deported. His wife insisted on accompanying him to the concentration camps. When George Clare's book came out, Arthur Koestler said the Klaars seemed like actors in a comic opera cast into a Greek tragedy. Meanwhile, firmly determined to be an Englishman, Georg Klaar changed his name to George Peter Clare, spoke with what he imagined to be an Oxford accent and laughed (occasionally) at jokes in Punch. He first found himself in the Alien Pioneer Corps until he wrote to the Labour MP and journalist, Tom Driberg, who obtained him a transfer to the Royal Artillery. Despite his hopes, he saw no action with his battery in the woods at Thetford, Norfolk. But a Russian interpreters' course led to his being posted to the British Control Commission in postwar Berlin, where he had the task of examining those seeking licences to take up their business again. Although Berlin Days (1989), which describes his experiences at the time, does not have the same power as the earlier book, it exudes an English sense of fair play, which prevented Clare from blaming all Germans for what had happened. He joined the denazification bureaucracy, charged with weeding out former party members from the new administration, and became adept at spotting omissions and lies on application forms. When significant numbers denied that they had ever joined the Hitler Youth, he visited its imprisoned head, Baldur von Schirach, who explained how the names of 18-year-old youths could have been automatically added to the official roll without their knowledge. After he left the commission in the late 1940s, Clare wrote a children's book, The Dream Boat, and worked briefly for the Manchester Guardian before joining the publisher Axel Springer's features agency, selling British pictures and stories to Germany. He then helped to set up the Springer foreign news service. Clare ran the business side of the London operation from an office in Jermyn Street, while the news emanated from an office at the back of The Daily Telegraph in Fleet Street. This grew into one of the largest agencies in the world, which Clare had to defend in letters to the British press against charges that it held a monopoly in Germany. George Clare became the ideal of an English gentleman, wearing a bowler hat in town and speaking English that was almost too perfect. He continued to write occasional articles about the country he loved in Die Welt, regretting only its disenchantment with the European Union. After the end of his first marriage to Lisl Beck, with whom he had a son and two daughters, he married Christel Vorbringer, with whom he had a daughter. In 1984 he and his second wife retired to a cottage in Suffolk, where he toyed with a long novel, painted in oils and enjoyed long walks with his two springer spaniels.

George Peter Clare (né Georg Klaar) was a British Jewish author and Holocaust survivor who wrote Last Waltz in Vienna and Berlin Days, both autobiographies. Last Waltz won the 1982 WH Smith Literary Award.

He was born in Vienna in 1920; his father, Ernst Klaar, was an assimilated Jewish banker. He fought during World War II for the British Army and worked as a news editor for many years, including for Axel Springer AG.[1] He was naturalised in 1947.[2] He died on 26 March 2009 aged 88.

Books[edit] In Last Waltz in Vienna he recounts his childhood and life as a Jew in Vienna and goes on to describe Hitler's rise to power and the catastrophe that followed, including his parents' death in Auschwitz. It also tells of his escape to Ireland, where he married Lisl Beck the day after Kristallnacht, and subsequent enlistment in the British Army, first in the Pioneer Corps and then in the Royal Artillery.

In Berlin Days he recounts his work at the denazification bureaucracy, where he became highly skilled in identifying lies and omissions in application forms.

It was an age of durability which was equated with stability... but nothing is so impermanent as permanence, nothing is so insecure as security." So wrote the memoirist George Clare of Franz-Josef's Austria in Last Waltz in Vienna (1980). In the book, the Jewish Klaar family's multifarious, self-made, well-fed, culturally abundant past in Vienna – reaching back in Clare's account to 1842 – tragically gives way to a city overcome by the rise of Nazism from which he escaped. If escape he did. Clare's subsequent transition from Klaar, and his transformation into a quintessential Englishman, was haunted by the discovery that his parents' French refuge had led to Auschwitz's gas showers.

Ads by Google

British Expat In Israel? Avoid Losing 55% Of Your UK Pension Download A Free Expat Pension Guide תמ"א 38 - מבני גזית השותפה הנכונה לפרויקט תמ"א 38/2 ניסיון עשיר וחוסן כלכלי. לחץ לפרטים מחפש דירות להשקעה? קרן הגשמה - יזמות אחרת להשקיע בקטן ולהרויח בגדול! He was born in Vienna in 1920, as Georg Klaar to a father, Ernst, who under parental pressure had surrendered literary hopes for banking. Clare, an only child, grew up amid Vienna's ever-shifting, self-destructing politics.

Clare knew that even those Jews who had assumed West European education and culture found that "full equality, inner equality, still eluded us". He saw the future as early as 1933. A family friend had been in Oranienburg concentration camp, one of the first Nazi showplaces of terror. "The Nazis had forced him to sign a document stating that he would say nothing about Oranienburg. The burn marks on his nose and cheeks, where the SA camp guards had stubbed out their cigarette ends, told the truth." More happily, at the age of 14, Clare met his future wife, Lisl Beck, at a summer camp ("I was attracted by her; she by my pyjamas").

By January 1938, Ernst knew that departure from Vienna was vital. It was difficult to achieve. The family, having decided to head to the Republic of Ireland, were turned back en route to Riga, where Clare was due to meet up with Lisl, also Ireland-bound. Several weeks were spent in Berlin, waiting to obtain the correct papers.

While there, news of a job in Paris took Ernst to the French capital, then thought to be safe from the clutches of the Nazis. After reaching Ireland, and then obtaining a French visa in Knightsbridge, Stella – waltzing like "a happily smiling young bride" – went to rejoin him. It turned out to be a fateful decision. After fleeing Paris in 1940 following the Blitzkrieg, Clare's parents were eventually deported and killed at Auschwitz.

Clare himself, duly married to Lisl, remained in Ireland and then moved to London, where his attempts to join the Army were long frustrated by the bureaucracy of the Pioneer Corps: he did not, in the end, see active service. In 1946, with the British Control Commission in Berlin, he worked in denazification, partly with Hugh Greene, later the BBC Director General, whose first address to his staff began, "I am here to make myself superfluous".

In the course of his work (described too episodically in his second volume of memoirs, Berlin Days, 1989), Clare had met the charming publisher Axel Springer, whose London-based news service he subsequently worked at for four decades. On one Sunday in the late 1960s, however, he began typing something different. As Last Waltz in Vienna (first published in German translation), it was praised by John le Carré, Graham Greene and others. A famous passage records that: "the city behaved like an aroused woman: vibrating, writhing, moaning and sighing lustfully for orgasm and release. It is not purple writing: it is an exact description of what Vienna was and felt like on Monday, 14 March 1938, as Hitler entered her... lined by hundreds of thousands of waving, jubilating Viennese, its church bells rang out their own obscene jubilate."

Clare does not reduce matters to black and white. Earlier, he saw some troop-carriers: "The men themselves were tall, young, handsome, smart and polished, and I realised, unbelievable though this may sound, that I admired these soldiers and was even proud of them. So conditioned was I, the 17-year-old Jew, by my Austro-German upbringing, so deeply engrained was all I had read, that I could not see these clean-limbed young men as my enemies. The Nazis, the SS, the SA, they were my enemies, but not the young and handsome soldiers of the Wehrmacht".

Christopher Hawtree

George Clare (Georg Klaar), author: born Vienna 21 December 1920; married 1939 Lisl Beck (marriage dissolved 1964, one son, two daughters), 1965 Christel Vorbringer (one daughter); died Newmarket 26 March 2009.

view all

George (Georg) Clare's Timeline

December 21, 1920
Vienna, Vienna, Austria
March 26, 2009
Age 88
London, United Kingdom