Anger as Cosmo plaque marking Swiss Cottage ‘sanctuary’ for Holocaust survivors is torn down
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
An association providing help to Jews who fled to Britain to escape Nazi persecution has expressed its sadness after a plaque marking a cafe that became a sanctuary for Holocaust survivors was torn down.
The Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR) said it was “dismayed” to learn one of its blue commemorative plaques mysteriously went missing from the wall outside the former home of the Cosmo in Finchley Road.
The eatery, also known as “Sigmund Freud’s favourite caff”, was legendary among north London’s Jewish community and found itself becoming a home away from home for those forced to flee violence spreading through central and eastern Europe.
Originally opening as a coffee bar in 1937, its servings of goulash, Wiener schnitzel and apple strudel provided refugees – many of whom came from Vienna and Berlin – with familiar tastes and smells.
The cafe was also a favourite haunt of Sigmund Freud, who lived a stone throw’s away in Maresfield Gardens.
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In November of last year, survivors, refugees and family members of the now-closed cafe’s owners joined the AJR in unveiling the plaque at a special ceremony.
But the efforts ensure the heritage of the building was preserved were undone in the last two weeks when the blue plate was ripped down.
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The incident comes not long after ownership of the building changed hands in July from charity Benesco to Corren Properties – an offshore property company.
Soon after, the Indian restaurant occupying the site, India Per Se, was served notice by bailiff enforcement officers and forced to vacate the premises.
Both the management company responsible for the property, Metrus, and Corren Properties denied instructing the plaque to be removed but promised to jointly fund a replacement.
Sat Lally, owner of India Per Se, also denied removing the plaque, saying: “We agreed to having the plaque outside our restaurant because were proud to have a restaurant in a building associated with the Cosmo.”
Michael Newman, chief executive of the AJR, said: “We were dismayed to hear that the plaque honouring the Cosmo had been
removed but are greatly relieved that it will be reinstated and
hope this will be achieved as
speedily as possible.”