We mourn the loss of Hella Pick

5 April 2024. We mourn the loss of Hella Pick, who died yesterday, Thursday, in London, three weeks before her 97th birthday. Hella Pick was an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life.
Hella was with the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium from the beginning as a loyal companion and important source of inspiration. At the time, she was a very close associate and confidante of M100 co-founder Lord Weidenfeld, and was responsible for his “Club of Three” debate format, among other things. She had previously spent 30 years as a foreign affairs journalist for the Guardian and was regarded as THE grand dame of political journalism. She was a pioneer who entered the male-dominated world of foreign affairs journalism in the 1950s. She travelled the world, met presidents such as John F Kennedy, interviewed ministers and kings and was a regular guest at Werner Höfer’s Press Club for many years, the only woman, of course.
Hella Pick was born into a Jewish family in Vienna on 24 April 1927. In March 1939, her mother put the eleven-year-old child on one of the last Kindertransporte (children’s transports) to London. She spoke about this time on 30 January at the opening of the exhibition “I said ‘Auf Wiedersehen'” of the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung GmbH in cooperation with the Freundeskreis Yad Vashem e.V. in the German Bundestag.
She studied political science at the London School of Economics and had a career as a foreign policy journalist. “Women in foreign affairs were seen as exotic and almost always perceived as unwanted intruders into a closed, exclusively male world with its tried and tested mix of camaraderie and fierce competition,” she writes in her autobiography, “Invisible Walls“, published in 2021 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. It describes “the adventurous journey of one of the greatest journalists to the heights and depths of contemporary history” and is a wonderful, revealing and exciting read, not just for journalists.
After working for magazine “West Africa” for several years, Hella joined the “Guardian”, where she spent many years as a United Nations correspondent and later as an international correspondent. Hella worked until the end. She was still organising conferences around the world when she was in her 90s. She was at M100 almost every year, only last year she didn’t make it because she was in Vienna launching the German edition of her memoirs. Hella was a great, unique, impressive and inspiring woman who will be greatly missed by all of us.