Whitehall and the Jews, 1933-1948: British Immigration Policy, Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust

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Whitehall and the Jews is the fullest study yet of the British response to European Jewry under the Nazis, and the first detailed account of British immigration policy toward refugee Jews. The British government always put self-interest first and sought to avoid long-term responsibility for large numbers of homeless Jews. Nonetheless, aided by the sympathy of certain officials and ministers, many Jews obtained refuge, albeit subject to severe restrictions. Louise London offers a compassionate and authoritative treatment of a subject central to the understanding of the Holocaust and Britain.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"... a comprehensive account of the British response to the plight of Europe's victims of Nazism..." Physics Today

"With encyclopedic knowledge and utter precision Louise London has given us the most detailed account of British policy toward Jewish refugees and escapees from Nazi domination." Raul Hillberg, Emeritus, University of Vermont

"How did Britain respond to the desperate plight of Jews persecuted by the Nazis before, during and after the Second World War? The most thorough and detailed study of this question to date, Louise London's Whitehall and the Jews is remarkably balanced and authoritative. True, the British response was highly inadequate—particularly when examined in light of the Nazi's ferocity and our own standards of humanitarianism. But the author of this remarkable book strives to explain, rather than denounce: she shows officialdom's diversity of response; she uncovers significant generosity; and she explains why, for governments at the time, Jewish suffering was not assigned a higher priority. The great contribution of this work is to present the Jewish issue in its rich historical context—a goal of every historian, but one that is seldom realized with the skill, insight and sensitivity displayed here." Michael R. Marrus, University of Toronto

"Whitehall and the Jews is an impressive piece of work of great scholarly value....Its conclusions are carefully drawn and compelling." Professor Vernon Bogdanor, Brasenose College, Oxford

"Intended as a comprehensive study of the British response to the plight of European Jewry under Nazism, in particular the immigration controls on admission of Jews to the United Kingdom and the doubts and dissent behind British policy." Reference & Research Book News

"...students of refugee and immigration policy will be indebted to London for producing perhaps the most comprehensive book on British refugee policy during the Holocaust to date." International Migration Review

"Louise London's book should be compulsory reading in Whitehall today." David Cesarani, Times Literary Supplement

This is the most complete, to date, study of the British response to European Jewry under the Nazis, and the first detailed account of British immigration policy toward refugee Jews." Jack Fischel, Indiana Jewish Post & Opinion

"This does not make for dull reading. It is at its most interesting when examining the identity and the intellectual, political, and emotional arguments of the small group of officials." The International History Review Dec 2001

"...authoritative...she has tackled a sensitive and unpopular subject with objectivity and skill, making this a work of seminal significance...London must be congratulated for her exemplary use of unpublished material, especially of official documents. Her persistent research into public archives has resulted in a penetrating and unrivalled insight into the workings of the British government." The Jewish Quarterly Review

David Cesarani
London challenges the "selective memories and complacency over Britain's wartime role. The myth...that Britain did all it could for the Jews between 1933 and 1945."
The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521631877
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2008
  • Pages: 332
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction; 2. Immigration control; 3. Control without visas; 4. New restrictions after the Anschluss, March to October 1938; 5. From Kristallnacht to the outbreak of war, November 1938 to September 1939; 6. Refugees from Czechoslovakia; 7. War-time policy; 8. The response to the Holocaust; 9. Post-war decisions; 10. Conclusion.

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