British antisemitism in the Second World War
This thesis examines both antisemitism and Jewish- Gentile relations in Britain during the Second World War. It argues that although hostility to Jews has rarely become violent, antisemitism has still made a strong impact on Anglo-Jewry and the whole of British society. Firstly, the thesis outlines a tradition of organized antisemitism which managed to survive the war and also helped to increase 'Jew-consciousness' in Britain. Secondly, it shows how hostile stereotypes of Jews continued, despite the close contact of Jews and Gentiles in the conflict, and the sympathy created by the plight of European Jewry. Thirdly, it analyses tensions caused by shortages of goods as well as other domestic problems that arose during the war and which led to Jews becoming scapegoats. Finally, the thesis suggests that antisemitism has not been alien to the British experience, and can indeed become respectable in times of crisis, as was the case with the internment panic in the summer of 1940. The basic difference between British antisemitism in the war and that of Germany or France was the role of the state. The thesis illustrates how the British government, in principle, was opposed to antisemitism, but that this did not mean it was immune from hostility towards Jews. Indeed, its antipathy partially explains the feeble response to the crisis of European Jewry and the scale of alien internment. The continuation of British liberal democracy has put restraints on the success of' antisemitism without being able to destroy it. Antisemitism has thus survived in Britain, putting a dual and contradictory pressure on Anglo-Jewry both to assimilate and to keep apart from Gentile society. The net result has been to create an atmosphere unlikely to produce a healthy Anglo-Jewish identity.