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Title: The vagaries of British compassion : a contextualized analysis of British reactions to the persecution of Jews under Nazi rule
Author: Wallis, Russell Mark
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis explores British reactions to the persecution and mass murder of the Jews under Nazi rule. It uniquely provides a deep context by examining British responses to a number of man-made humanitarian disasters between 1914 and 1943. In doing so it takes into account changing context, the memory of previous atrocities and the making and re-making of British national identity. It shows that although each reaction was distinctive, common strands bound British confrontation with foreign atrocity. Mostly, the British consciously reacted in accordance with a long ‘tradition’ of altruism for the oppressed. This tradition had become a part and parcel of how the British saw themselves. The memory of past atrocity provided the framework for subsequent engagement with an increasingly dangerous and unpredictable world. By tracking the discursive pattern of the atrocity discourse, the evidence reveals that a variety of so-called ‘others’ were cast and recast in the British imagination. Therefore, a disparate group of ‘foreign’ victims were the beneficiaries of nationwide indignation almost regardless of the way the government eventually was able to contain or accommodate public protest. When Jews were victims there was a break with this tradition. The thesis shows that atrocity was fully comprehended by Britons but that Jews did not evoke the intensity or longevity of compassion meted out to others. In other words it shows that the reaction to Jewish suffering was particular. They were subject to a hierarchy of compassion.
Supervisor: Cesarani, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available