Refugees: Admission of Distressed Persons

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Refugees: Admission of Distressed Persons

On 6 November 1945 the Cabinet considered a scheme for the admission to the UK of a limited number of refugees from Nazi oppression, for example, survivors from German concentration camps, people who had been hiding from the Gestapo who had relatives in this country.  They discussed the problem of taking in those aged between 18 and 21 who would thereafter be a permanent addition and would be competing with British subjects in the job market and that of taking in elderly people who might be un-productive and become a burden.  Another problem was the anti-Semitic feeling aroused by admitting Jews: there had, for example, been a recent protest by rate-payers against a foreign colony in Hampstead.

The following extracts give a flavour of what was said in Cabinet:

P.M.  

Danger of getting too many aged by this means.

H.M.  

Dynamite – other re-actions.  Nervous of as high an age as 18/21. We
  took more than U.S. before: they never expanded their quota.  Danger
  of wave of anti-semite feeling.

E.Sh.  

How many likely to come under this?  Prob. v. small.
  Older people – no gt. objn because they will die off soon.  More objn to
  younger.
  But, anyway, has U.K. ever suffered fr. admisn of refuges? Usually
  gained.
  Not sure about H.M., & re-action.  Look at counter re-action in
  Hampstead.
  On man-power, possibility we may be short.

C.E.  

Diffy because of congregating in colonies eg. Hampstead.
  Maintenance: propose tht. relatives be asked to satisfy us on that in
  advance.
  = part answer on "old people" point.

E.B.  

Need to spread these people.  They are good on the land.   Make it a
  condn tht. some of young ones go on to the land.  Let Dpts consider
  that.
 x/ Don´t let all Jews go into "trade". Replace man-power wh. agric. is
  losing.

A.B.  

Don´t be stampeded by D. Mail propaganda.  Fact is large nos. have
  enterd factories  etc., in Midlands & N. Wales.  No real analysis of
  what these refugees are doing.  Can´t allow continn of situation in wh.
  children in G. camps & parents here.
   Need for more labour here. Unwise to think in terms of unemployment.

Taken from C.M. 49(45) - Meeting held on 6 November 1945.