Image: a photograph of Jewish Refugees in Birmingham. (Harry Levine, Press Cuttings, 1941 part 1).
Behind pictures such as these lies a complicated story. At least 6 million Jews were murdered under Hitlerís dictatorship; yet only around 10,000 Jews were able to find homes as refugees between in Britain between 1939 and 1945. On one hand, Britain feared Hitlerís aggressive takeover of power. At the same, the national anxieties on being confronted with an influx of Ďaliení Jewish refugees meant that finding refuge here was made difficult. For those men women and children who did manage to escape to Britain, a further level of ordeal was to await them- internment as 'aliens'. Historian James Walvin gives an overview to what happened to Jewish refugees when WWII began:
"Those lucky enough to have escaped to Britain before 1939 suddenly found their position transformed by the declaration of war in September. Now they were enemy aliens. The Foreign Office worried that there might be a difficulty Ďin distinguishing the sheep from the goatsí. Tribunals established to vet all such aliens had interned 528 and placed restrictions on 8,356 by January 1940. The process was too lax, too sympathetic for the liking of growing number of critics, especially those newspapers who had made their positions so clear in the anti-Jewish campaigns forty years earlier. [Ö] The crisis of 1940, the formation of Churchillís government and the gathering mood of defiant desperation led to a rapid change in policy towards aliens. Within weeks, 30,000 people had been interned, many of them in the Isle of Man."
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