Refugee or Alien?

The Long-Term Influence of Eastern European Jewish Immigrants on the Reception of German Jews into Great Britain in the 1930s

in European Judaism
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Between 1880 and 1905, approximately 100,000 Jews, fleeing from Russia, entered Britain. The majority settled in the East End of London, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow. They were viewed as totally alien and a threat to society. It was claimed that they deprived the indigenous population of employment and housing. A group of rightwing Tories manipulated these allegations to instigate the 1905 Aliens Act, which laid the basis of immigration law in Britain. This article will consider how the long-term influence of the Russian Jews’ arrival impacted on the reception of the Jews fleeing from Hitler. While the government wished to maintain its façade of tolerance and the Jewish community wanted to offer traditional charity, the shadow of 1905 remained; entry into Britain was strictly controlled.