Lord Weidenfeld dead: Publisher and philanthropist passes away aged 96

Lord Weidenfeld, a publisher, newspaper columnist and philanthropist who recently launched a fund to save Christians threatened by Isis, has died aged 96, it has been reported. 

George Weidenfeld was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1919 and studied at the University of Vienna. He fled to London following the annexation of Austria by Germany at the start of the Second World War to escape persecution by the Nazis for being Jewish. 

He went on to work as a political commentator for the BBC and as a columnist, becoming a British citizen in 1947. His death was reported by the German newspaper Bild on Wednesday. 

He co-founded the publisher Weidenfeld and Nicolson, which published ground-breaking and controversial books such as Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, in 1948. 

In 2015, he launched the Weidenfeld Safe Havens Fund, a project to rescue Christians from areas held by Isis. Lord Weidenfeld said he wanted to “repay his debts” to those who helped him when he arrived in the UK as a refugee with nothing. 

“I had a debt to repay,” he told The Times after announcing the fund. “It applies to so many of the young people who were on the Kindertransports. It was Quakers and other Christian denominations who brought those children to England. It was a very high-minded operation and we Jews should also be thankful and do something for the endangered Christians.”

Lord Weidenfeld is survived by his wife Annabelle Whitestone, who he married in 1992.