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A German-Jewish Athlete during the Age of Extremes: Alex Natan (1906–71)

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Prof. Kay Schiller
Room G3, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

As a gay high-performance runner, antifascist intellectual and sportswriter, Alex Natan was a quintessential outsider in Weimar Berlin. His marginal status also remained a constant during his forced emigration to Britain, as a precarious refugee in pre-war London, as a long-time internee during World War II, as well as a schoolteacher in the Midlands and author and journalist in post-war Britain and West Germany. This lecture will demonstrate how an unusual German Jew was affected by the ‘age of extremes’, making his life story quite typical of the predicaments of the 20th century.

Kay Schiller is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Durham. He has published articles and books on German cultural and sports history, including on the history of the Olympics, on football history, on modern German-Jewish history and on the history of the Federal Republic and the GDR. He is currently researching (with Udi Carmi) the influence of German sports models on sports in Palestine and Israel, with a special focus on the activities of the Zionist functionary Emmanuel Ernst Simon (1898–1988).


This season’s lecture series Outsiders in German-Jewish History seeks to uncover the shared experiences of individuals and communities who found themselves on the margins of society. Transcending both time and geography, talks will offer different perspectives on the resilience and tenacity of those who have grappled with the challenges of being outsiders. How have they found identity and a sense of belonging in societies that have not understood or even accepted them?

Organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London.

Admission is free. Lectures will begin promptly at 6.00pm. Latecomers may not be admitted.

Lectures will be held in Bloomsbury, London W1. Places are strictly limited and must be reserved by contacting the Leo Baeck Institute London at

Lectures also be streamed live on Zoom. Links will be advertised closer to the dates of individual events in our lecture announcements via email, social media and on our website. To participate online and to register your booking please follow the instructions provided in those communications.


Overview of the 2024 Lecture Series