George Weidenfeld, Baron Weidenfeld
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Life and career
Born in Vienna, Austria, Weidenfeld attended the University of Vienna and the city's Diplomatic College. Following Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938, he emigrated to London and began work with the monitoring service of the British Broadcasting Corporation. By 1942 he was a political commentator for the BBC and also wrote a weekly newspaper column.
In 1948, Weidenfeld co-founded the publishing firm Weidenfeld & Nicolson with Nigel Nicolson. The firm published several landmark titles, including Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and Nicolson's own controversial autobiography Portrait of a Marriage. In 1949 he served as political adviser and Chief of Cabinet to Chaim Weizmann.
In 1985, 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, merged with the Atlantic Monthly Press to form Grove/Atlantic Inc.
Weidenfeld continues to work on attracting prestigious authors to his imprints. A notable coup for Weidenfeld & Nicolson came in 2005 when he arranged the publication of Memory & Identity by John Paul II. Weidenfeld is also Joint Chairman Advisory Board Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford; Adviser to the Board of Axel Springer 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 1990s, was established with Weidenfeld as its president. This 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 enhance Europe’s capacity to be a coherent and effective player. In 2006 he initiated the Weidenfeld Scholarships and Leadership Programme in Oxford, and in 2010 he founded the Humanitas Programme of Visiting Chairs at Oxford & Cambridge.
Weidenfeld has 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).
Honours and awards
Weidenfeld, who became a British citizen in 1946, was knighted in 1969 and created a life peer as Baron Weidenfeld of Chelsea in the County of Greater London in 1976. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for public service. Further honors have 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. He 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. He holds 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); the Order of Merit of the Land Baden-Württemberg (2008). The Polish Foreign Minister awarded him with the Bene Merito distinction in 2011. He received the London Book Fair/Trilogy Lifetime Achievement Award for International Publishing in 2007; the Teddy Kollek Life Achievement Award in Jerusalem in 2009.
- Remembering My Good Friends: An Autobiography. New York City: HarperCollins. 1995. ISBN 0-06-017286-X.
- Oliver Marre, "A man whose life has been an open book", The Observer, 28 June 2009.
- Europaeum. "Weidenfeld Institute for Strategic Dialogue".
- Danny Fortson (7 September 2007). "Bonfire of the vanities". The Independent. "…the Club of Three, which despite the forboding [sic] name is a non-profit outfit dedicated to promoting 'broader understanding of political, social and economic developments within and between the three countries.' It does so by convening meetings in different European capitals of businessmen, academics and journalists from the UK, France and Germany."
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2010.
- Elizabeth Grice (February 24, 2005). "In each of us, there's an element of snobbery". The Daily Telegraph.
- Institute for Strategic Dialogue - Lord Weidenfeld's Biography
- The IJP George Weidenfeld Bursary for British and German journalists
- "The New Statesman Profile - George Weidenfeld." Quentin Letts, New Statesman, January 1, 1999.
- George Weidenfeld on arte.tv