This article provides an overview of Eleanor Rathbone’s commitment to the rescue and welfare of refugees, especially Jews, in and from Nazi-occupied Europe before and during the Second World War. The focus is on how she sought to champion their cause, while balancing her humanitarianism with the political imperatives of the day. Reference is made to her two groups, the Parliamentary Committee on Refugees and the National Committee for Rescue from Nazi Terror, both of which were used to bring pressure to bear on the government regarding their response to the refugees. Mention will also be made of some of her refugee publications, which variously proposed rescue schemes and sought to dispel the prevailing negative myths about Jews.
Susan Cohen was awarded her PhD in 2005 by the University of Southampton for her thesis on Eleanor Rathbone and her work for refugees. Her monograph, Rescue the Perishing: Eleanor Rathbone and the Refugees, was published by Vallentine Mitchell in 2010. She is co-founder of the Remembering Eleanor Rathbone Group.