How welcoming Great Britain was to refugees in the 1930s and 1940s depended on
many factors, including the age, gender, class and profession of an individual. Members
of some of the British professions did all they could to rescue their persecuted brethren
from the continent, while others did all they could to bar those who might potentially
cause competition in the job market. This article considers how welcoming the professions
and general public were to the internees in the years preceding the Second World
War, how popular opinion changed after the fall of France and the Low Countries, and
how Eleanor Rathbone and some of her peers campaigned to debunk the popular myths
surrounding the refugees. Much of the rhetoric from this time period will seem familiar
to those reading the newspapers and listening to news reports nowadays, showing how
much still needs to be learned from this turbulent time in history.
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