Nearly the new world: refugees and the British west Indies, 1933-1945.
University of Southampton, History Department,
This thesis examines the role of the Caribbean as a place of refuge, internment and transit for Jewish refugees from Europe during the interwar and Second World War period. It approaches the subject from the different perspectives of the British Government, West Indian colonies, refugee organisations and refugees themselves. It is divided into three parts, the first examining local, national and international concerns of the British Government towards its colonies in the Caribbean. It explores how these concerns impacted on the development of immigration policy in the British West Indies, and how the Colonial Office managed to steer a course between protecting West Indian interests and following Government directives over its refugee policy.
The second section traces the vital role played by British, American and European Jewish refugee organisations. It explores their practical involvement in directing refugees to the West Indies, in negotiating entry for refugees with invalid travel documents, and in providing maintenance. It also explores how the West Indies took on greater significance for refugee bodies as the war progressed. Whilst concentrating on their involvement with the West Indies, this section analyses the achievements and limitations facing voluntary refugee bodies during this period.
The last section of this thesis considers the movement of refugees to the British West Indies, analysing how much choice was involved in their destination. Particular attention is paid to the experience of internment and attempts to establish Jewish communities. The reactions of British West Indians to the question of Jewish immigration, and to the presence of Jewish refugees is explored within the context of the social, political and economic situation of the British West Indies in the 1930s and 1940s.
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