Britain and rescue: Government policy and the Jewish refugees 1942-1943

Packer, Diana (2017) Britain and rescue: Government policy and the Jewish refugees 1942-1943. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis is an analysis of the initial responses of the British government to the Holocaust focusing on refugee policy. In particular, it seeks to re-examine the role of anti-Semitism as an influencing factor on government decision-making and argues that current historiography underplays that influence. It will argue that the government’s fear of anti-Semitism itself betrayed some anti-Jewish assumptions. These fears were used as a means to counter demands for rescue, as the government wanted to ensure that its immigration policies were unchanged and continued to be exclusionary. The thesis also examines how the leaders of the Anglo-Jewish community responded to, and engaged with, these policies..

This study is based on extensive archival research and makes a detailed analysis of both government and private papers including correspondence from Eleanor Rathbone, William Temple, The Board of Deputies of British Jews and Rabbi Schonfeld. Other resources have included newspapers – The Times, The Jewish Chronicle and the Guardian – contemporary accounts in books and magazines, parliamentary speeches as well as material fron the Parliamentary Committee on Refugees.

The thesis is arranged into a series of case studies that exemplify the complexity of responses to Nazi anti-Jewish policy but also draw attention to significant continuities in exclusionary thinking. The first chapter considers the Evian Conference and argues that the government only ever intended that the conference should end with no change to its immigration policies. Chapters Two and Three consider the government response to schemes for the rescue of children in France in 1942 and Bulgaria in 1943 and argue that such rescue schemes were little more than a charitable façade. The thesis ends by looking critically at the Bermuda Conference and its aftermath in 1943 and ultimately concludes that the government remit at Bermuda was similar to the Evian Conference: public expression of noble sentiments with no intention of easing the immigration laws or providing assistance to Jewish refugees trapped in Nazi Europe, the approach which defined British government attitudes throughout.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 15:32
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 22:48

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