Between 1933 and 1940 Manchester received between seven and eight thousand refugees from Fascist Europe. They included Jewish academics expelled from universities in Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy. Around two hundred were children from the Basque country of Spain evacuated to Britain on a temporary basis in 1937 as the fighting of the Spanish Civil War neared their home towns. Most were refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. 95% of the refugees from Nazism were Jews threatened by the increasingly violent anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime. The rest were Communists, Social Democrats, Pacifists, Liberals, Confessional Christians and Sudeten Germans. There have been several valuable studies of the response of the British government to the refugee crisis. The present study seeks for the first time to assess the responses in one city - Manchester – which had long cultivated an image of itself as a ‘liberal city’. Using documentary and oral sources, including interviews with Manchester refugees, it explores the work of those sectors of local society which took part in the work of rescue - Jewish communal organisations, the Society of Friends, the Rotarians, the University of Manchester, secondary schools in and around Manchester, pacifist bodies, the Roman Catholic Church and industrialists from the Manchester region. It considers the reasons for their choices to help and assesses their degree of success and the forces which limited their effectiveness. The book has been written with the general reader in mind, but it will be of particular interest to those studying Britain’s attitudes to immigrants and refugees, the history of the British Jewish community, the role of Zionism during the Second World War, the role of philanthropy and the Christian churches in Manchester society and issues surrounding the settlement and acculturation of newcomers to British society.
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