German Student receives award 70 years late

The Edinburgh College of Art last week presented a German born architect with the City of Edinburgh Medal for Civic Design, 70 years after it was first awarded to him.

94 year old Antony Wolffe was first denied his prize in 1944, as it was deemed “politically insensitive” to award him the prize at the time.

Recipient of an MBE in 1994, Wolffe was forced out of Germany in 1937 following Nazi party oppression. He was then offered a scholarship at the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in 1938.

The ECA, in tandem with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), presented Wolffe with the prize at the opening of an exhibition celebrating his work.

Three trainee Curatorial Officers from the RCAHMS gathered works by Mr Wolffe into an exhibition.

Philip Brooks, one of the trainees involved, told The Student how the medal was discovered.

He said: “We got an email from the ECA saying they had found his medal.

“I think it’s very important that Antony was able to receive his medal even if it was long overdue”.

Brooks put together the exhibition, entitled ‘Antony C Wolffe: Student Drawings 1938-44’ with the help of fellow officers Tom Gibbons and Gilly Conabeer.

He explained their reasoning for focusing the exhibition on Mr Wolffe on the ECA website: “We chose to focus on Antony’s [drawings] because of their vibrancy and the range of different styles on show”.

John Brennan, head of the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the ECA, told The Student that it was important that they could “honour an exceptional student who became an exceptional practitioner”.

He continued to say how the ECA discovered the medal: “Antony Wolffe’s son got in touch with us.

“He told us the story of the award and how the medal wasn’t awarded because of wartime sensitivities”.

Brennan complimented the “excellent detective work” done by his colleagues, which allowed them to locate and recast a new medal.

Following the presentation of his medal last week, Wolffe told The Scotsman that he “thought it would never happen” and that it was “wonderful and extraordinary” to receive his award.

His time in Britain during the Second World War was overshadowed by internment on the Isle of Man and in Canada.

The British government set up internment camps for Austrians and Germans living in the UK during the Second World War.

The majority of those interned were sent to the Isle of Man.

The selection of Wolffe’s drawings was exhibited at Minto House in Edinburgh.

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