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Caesar C. Aronsfeld, ‘Jewish Enemy Aliens in England During the First World War’

Aronsfeld writes about the treatment and experiences of Jewish people during the first world war. He details that German Jews living in England suffered during the war and were treated poorly. He notes that having a British citizenship did not protect those of alien birth.

The Times newspaper was also printing anti-Semitic propaganda and used the word “Jew” in a derogatory manner. As well as this, they used the words “German” and “Jew” as interchangeable terms. Antisemitic views were spreading through Britain fast.

Aronsfeld Further notes that Jewish M.Ps and people of power were discriminated against. For example, Mr Arthur Strauss, the conservative M.P for North Paddington was asked to resign because he was a native German. It did not matter that he was naturalized, only that he came from Germany. This Highlights that nobody was safe from anti-Semitic views and opinions during the war. if an individual was German or Jewish, they would be discriminated against. He also notes that Edgar Speyer was requested to resign from the chairmanship of the hospital that he worked at because of threats of large withdraws of subscribers if he remained on the board. His wife was also asked to remove their daughters from the school that they attended in London, in fear that English people would take their daughters away and enrol them in different schools.

Additionally, After the sinking of the Lusitania Sir Arthur Pinero, the playwright suggested that the Jewish community band together and express their detestation of Germanys welfare. However, the Jewish community did not think it was necessary to confirm their loyalty to Britain when they had lived there for so long, but a frenzy of public opinion forced them to do so. Aronsfeld highlights that there were consequences for the Jewish community if they did not affirm their loyalty to Britain. If they kept silent it may have led to suspicion of them “sitting on the gate”. Many members of the Jewish community felt humiliated that they were forced to show their loyalty to Britain through writing, as they had been showing their loyalty for many years through their deeds.

Aronsfeld concluded his chapter by noting that the Jewish community had been boycotted and abandoned from their adopted country. A country that they had proven their loyalty to many times had now shunned them because they were by law “aliens”.

2 thoughts on “Caesar C. Aronsfeld, ‘Jewish Enemy Aliens in England During the First World War’

  1. This blog post on C. C. Aronsfeld highlights the treatments, and experiences, that Jewish individuals were faced with during the first World war. The post is well structured, and makes clear to the reader what the main arguments are, and how the author came to form them. The post examines and gives examples of the uses of primary data within the article, such as the situation that Arthur Strauss, and Edgar Speyer faced, because they were jewish. This highlights the types of discriminative and anti-Semantic views which were being targeted at “aliens” during this period, allowing the reader to understand the types of experiences Jewish people had within England.

  2. This is a well written summary of the article and successfully highlights the treatment of Jewish people during the war with the fast spread of anti semitic views. By noting that there was no distinction between German individuals and those who were Jewish is a useful illustration that despite having differences, they were all categorised as the same group and enemy to the British. Further, by including the point that the Jewish community felt humiliated, this is a reminder that they were deeply disappointed with being asked at prove their loyalty and shows that they were a vulnerable group living in a country that they assumed would not regard them as the enemy.

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