Balliol stands firm in `Nazi money' row

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The Independent Online

The Oxford college at the centre of a storm over a professor's post financed with money allegedly connected to Nazi war crimes was understood to have agreed yesterday that it should go ahead.

Dr Gert-Rudolf Flick, whose grandfather Friedrich allegedly made his fortune using slave labourers and was jailed at the Nuremberg war crimes trial, offered last year to fund a new university chair attached to Balliol.

Controversy broke out when details of his family history emerged and some dons expressed concern at Dr Flick's family associations and the "moral taint" of the funding.

But the governing body of Balliol discussed the matter at its end of term meeting yesterday and fellows were understood to have continued to back the plan for a Chair of European Thought in the Flick name.

Lord Weidenfeld, the publisher who came to Britain from Austria as a Jewish refugee, was instrumental in encouraging Dr Flick's bequest in his role as vice-chairman of the Oxford Development Fund.

Neither Balliol nor the university would comment last night, but Lord Weidenfeld said he had received word from the college that it had agreed to support the new chair and was very pleased.

He said he had been anxious that no one should be incriminated for crimes with which they had no connection. "I feel very strongly that the sins of the father should not be held against the sons. Those who know [Dr Flick] well, as I do, know that he has wholly dissociated himself from those views and is definitely a convinced anti-Nazi." The row had been a "rather disagreeable experience" for him.

Lord Weidenfeld said that he very much hoped the controversy was now at an end and that the chair would prove a positive development benefiting, in particular, east European students who had been victims of communist and racist persecution. He added: "It is not easy to get money [for university chairs] these days."

Professor John W Burrow, who has been already appointed the first holder of the post, has said he planned a series of lectures on notions of race and nationality in the 19th century to explore the roots of ideas which had dire consequences, such as the Holocaust, in the 20th century.