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THOMAS MAUTNER - REFUGEE - PHILOSOPHER

OF BOOKS AND PEOPLEPosted by Tore Nordenstam Sunday, September 28 2008 15:56:58

I have known Thomas Mautner since we were ten years old. We first met in the Boy Scouts in Gothenburg, and then again when we both studied philosophy at the university there. Then we both left Sweden. I headed for Khartoum and after that Bergen, Norway, and Thomas settled down in Canberra where he got a post in philosophy in 1965. His publications include The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy (second edition, 2005) and works on the Swedish philosopher Axel Hägerström etc.

Yesterday, one of the Bergen newspapers had a long article on him (Bergens Tidende, 28 September, 2008), the last in a series about the fate of the small Jewish community in Bergen during World War II. Many of the Bergen Jews were deported and murdered by the Germans who occupied Norway from 1940 to 1945. Thomas and his sister Ilse had been sent to Bergen from their native city Prague in the autumn of 1939. He was four years old at that time. He never saw his parents again. His foster father was active in the Norwegian resistance movement, was arrested and sent to the Grini prison in Oslo. He died a few weeks before the capitulation.

In 1943, the Nansen rescue organization, which had arranged the transport from Prague to Bergen, helped Thomas and his sister and some twenty others to flee to Sweden. First to Oslo, then under a tarpaulin at the back of a lorry, then walking in the snow through the forest which separated the occupied country from its neighbour…

More on the history of the Jewish settlement in Bergen in a Norwegian book which has just been published: … ”vi blir neppe noensinne mange her”. Jøder i Bergen 1851-1945.

Links:

http://arts.anu.edu.au/philosophy/academic/people.htm

http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141018409,00.html

http://www.vigmostadbjorke.no/?isbn=978-82-419-0464-6

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