By Pamela Shatzkes
It is a penetrating and balanced research of the choices dealing with British Jews as they wrested with the issues of rescuing the sufferers of Nazi discrimination. Alive to political realities, and mercifully unpolemical, Shatzkes exposes the harsh dilemmas that made rescue more and more tricky. the result's a powerful transforming of a contentious tale, informed right here with compassion and knowing. RICHARD OVERY, Professor of heritage, King's university London
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Extra resources for Holocaust and Rescue: Impotent or Indifferent? Anglo-Jewry 1938–1945
Laski countered the argument that refugees were adding to the 34 Holocaust and Rescue unemployment problem and dismissed the criticism that they were, like the earlier Russian immigrants, 'ignorant and uncultured, many without a trade and speaking no language save Yiddish. The vast number would be an asset to any country into which they are admitted. '23 The Board issued a booklet defending and praising them. They were making a substantial contribution to the British economy and, far from taking jobs from the British, they were creating employment.
14 Such open discrimination represented a signifcant shift from the informal or covert biases against Jews which proliferated on a minor scale in numerous social milieux. This social discrimination was freely admitted and justifed. The fashionable and literary classes routinely expressed openly derogatory remarks about Jews. Harold Nicolson confessed, 'The Jewish capacity for destruction is really illimitable. '15 On the other hand, and paradoxically, as anti-Semitic sentiment and discrimination grew during the 1930s and the war years, it also became less 'politically correct', doubtless because the expression of anti-Semitic feeling would imply an afnity with the core ideology of the Nazi regime.
25 Nevertheless, this did not place the Jewish community in any more vulnerable position than any other social or religious sect and it is hard to see how its concern not to abuse its privileges can be read as a symptom of timidity and insecurity. The last serious Englishmen of the Jewish Persuasion 17 violence against a religious minority in Britain had been the anti Catholic Gordon Riots of 17s0 - and that rising had been swiftly suppressed. No ulterior motive need be ascribed to the Board's pride in the good name of the community as a whole, or its endeavour to encourage a high standard of behaviour in public life.