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 right-wing 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.
Diana Packer is completing a PhD at Northumbria focusing on the longterm influence of the Russian Jews’ arrival in Britain on subsequent government policy towards Jewish refugees.