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Roald Dahl museum apologizes for the children’s author’s antisemitism, racism

The statement comes more than 2 years after the author’s family issued an apology for his antisemitism

The official Roald Dahl museum has publicly acknowledged that the author of Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other classics of children’s literature had in his life engaged “undeniable racism” and antisemitism.

In a Wednesday statement, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, based in the British village where Dahl lived and wrote for 36 years, said it “fully supports” an apology Dahl’s family made for his bigoted views in 2020. That apology recognized “the lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s antisemitic statements.”

“Roald Dahl’s racism is undeniable and indelible,” the museum added, “but what we hope can also endure is the potential of Dahl’s creative legacy to do some good.” The museum, in Great Missenden, about an hour’s drive northwest of London, also intends to place a panel about Dahl’s bigotry in its entrance hall.

Dahl, who died in 1990, left a record of antisemitic comments.

“There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews,” Dahl said in a 1983 interview with the New Statesman. “I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere.”

“Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason,” he added.

The museum, a nonprofit institution with hands-on exhibits to engage children ages 5 to 12,  said that it had worked with Jewish organizations to confront Dahl’s antisemitism. While the museum does not publicly repeat Dahl’s antisemitism, it said it keeps a record of what he wrote “so it is not forgotten.”

The groups with which the museum had engaged to confront the author’s antisemitism include the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust, and the Antisemitism Policy Trust.

The statement also said the museum is training staff to make all visitors feel included.

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