Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria in the British Army, 1939-45
This thesis fills a significant gap in secondary literature on the role of Jewish refugee soldiers from Germany and Austria, who served in the British army during the Second World War, 1939-45. It goes further than any previous specialised works in this area by examining the social issues surrounding the refugee soldier's experiences in the army, such as their relationship with British soldiers and their personal attitudes towards the policies of the War Office. There are few surviving documentary sources specifically detailing the service of refugees. To compensate this there has been an emphasis on the gathering of oral testimonies. These interviews, conducted by the author, provided the opportunity to analyse crucial issues left unanswered within other documentary sources, principally the underlying theme of the refugees' religious and national identities. This study examines the development of the refugees' identities from their experiences under Nazi rule, to their service In the British army and eventual naturalisation as British citizens. The thesis is organized into eight chapters. Each analyses key moments and dilemmas experienced during the refugee servicemen's army service. This study demonstrates the dynamic interplay that existed between the refugees' own sense of self, and that which was held by the government in power. It also examines the perception of refugees held by British born soldiers and the general civilian population. These interactions were crucial in determining the lives of these men. The thesis concludes by illustrating that the refugees' Jewish and national identities altered considerably as a consequence of their wartime experiences, and that the British War Office largely remained needlessly suspicious of the refugee soldiers throughout much of the war.