British Jews were divided in their response to Nazism. Left wing Jewish activists in the East End of London led demonstrations and asked for a boycott of German goods. The Jewish leadership in Britain rejected this request for an official boycott, however, because they thought it would increase antisemitic attacks in Germany.
Up until 1941 Hitler was prepared to let Jews out of Germany. But the economic recession of the 1920s and 1930s had led to strict controls on numbers of refugees being allowed into Britain. Consequently, it was difficult for Jews escaping Nazi persecution to enter Great Britain. From 1933 to 1938 there were calls within parliament to ease the restrictions on the immigration of German Jewish refugees. These were ultimately rejected.
Nevertheless, many Britons, both Jewish and non-Jewish, wanted to help solve the plight of the German Jews. In March 1933 the German-Jewish Refugee Council (JRC) was established. The JRC, along with the Board of Deputies and Anglo-Jewish Association, lobbied the government to ease restrictions. They pledged that none of the refugees would be a financial burden on the state. Accommodation would either be paid for or provided.
Other refugee relief and aid committees were set up throughout Britain. This support enabled about 75,000 Jewish refugees to enter Britain between 1933 and 1939, over 10,000 of whom were children. Click on the on the left hand navigation buttons or the ‘See and hear our survival stories…..’ link in the top right hand corner to listen to some refugee experiences.