Simon Schama – The Fate of the Idea of Toleration

Event date:  25 January 2011

Kennedy Lecture Theatre

UCL Institute of Child Health

30 Guilford Street, London





Birkbeck, University of Londonin association with the Anne Frank Trust


Public Lecture


Professor Simon Schama (University Professor of Art History and History, Columbia University)-The Fate of the Idea of Toleration

In this panoramic lecture, Simon Schama begins by considering the appeal and significance of Anne Frank and her diary for successive generations. He relates Anne’s experiences in hiding, as well as the choices and dilemmas facing the Dutch population in the face of Nazi occupation and murderous antisemitism, to the long and chequered history of toleration in Europe. In particular, he traces the idea and practice of toleration to the writings of figures such as Milton, Locke and Voltaire as well as to the politics of the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century. Schama goes on to consider the challenges to toleration both in modern European history and in the present. He  asks what the limits to toleration are and whether we are required to show forbearance towards those who are themselves intolerant.

The Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism

“The relationship between antisemitism and other forms of racism and exclusion is not only a historical question. It is an urgent issue for today.”

Professor David Feldman, Director

The Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism is funded by the Pears Foundation and based at Birkbeck, University of London. It is a centre of innovative research and teaching, contributing to discussion and policy formation on antisemitism as well as other forms of racial prejudice and intolerance. It is both independent and inclusive.


Welcome and Introduction by Gillian Walnes MBE

Director of the Anne Frank Trust



Professor Simon Schama CBE



Vote of Thanks by Professor Lord Bhiku Parekh



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