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S. Yarrow, ‘The impact of hostility on Germans in Britain’ 1914-1918

‘The impact of hostility on Germans in Britain 1914-18’ by S. Yarrow seeks to evaluate the effect of hostility on the German migrants in Britain in the war years of 1914 to 1918. Yarrow creates an unbiased and intriguing argument that centres on the idea of the German community not being homogenous and that this lack of cohesion meant the anti-German hostility impacted individuals in a complex way.

Firstly, arrow notes provides context by referring to hostility faced by migrants and the suffering this caused, especially for  wives of German migrants. The  lack of  husbands, due to internment, meant that wives were left vulnerable to destitution. In turn the British and German government had to take action. The Destitute Aliens Committee was therefore set up in November 1915 to provide funds to the wives of interned soldiers. Along with other associations  such as the CCUAR (Central council of United Aliens Relief), which sought to change the perception of German migrants as the enemy, Yarrow emphasises  the way in which the German community came together to support the most vulnerable during a time of need.

Yarrow goes on to show the actions of naturalised Germans, much of whom were benefactors of prominent German organisations, to articulate the point of complex reactions. Richer naturalised Germans felt it their responsibility to show the common interest of those Germans who were restricted by government initiatives but as well they still had to be loyal to Britain. These individuals, therefore, gave back to the German community as well as Britain. Baron Von Schrooler for example gave a home for the children of enemy aliens, while also giving money to war charities. The loyalty letters, as Yarrow shows, were a way that naturalised Germans showed their loyalty to Britain, as a result of the recent Lusitania attacks. It is suggested that many felt it was their duty to write the letters but it was still a risky move in showing a relationship with enemy aliens. The point Yarrow argues is that the loyalty letters and the actions of naturalised Germans are evidence that the naturalised were trying to preserve the links between themselves and the enemy aliens during hostility.

It was not only the naturalised Germans who organised themselves during hostility. Rudolf Rocket, a German writer and activist, set up a kitchen for German migrants who had lost their jobs. The CCUARS for example branched out into constituent societies. The charity work of the CCUARS in conjunction with the Home Office and police, was as according to Yarrow  coming together to provide a safety net for Germans in a time of need.

Yarrow lastly points to internment camps to finalise this complex reaction. Through the use of contemporary and modern interpretations, such as Sylvia Pankhurst, Yarrow shows that internees suffered great physical and mental side effects in the camps. Yet some suffered in better conditions. The camp divisions which formed along class, religion and professional lines emphasised the differing reactions to hostility, to segregate into communities. Although in all of these sections there was a growing sense of German nationalism. It is rather interesting how even in time of hostility many Germans showed their roots with pride, in a sense it was almost a way of proving them before they were fully destroyed. It can be argued that these camps were a representation of the German community in hostile times, the separation within mimicked that on the outside but yet there was still some sense of community left as everyone would band together to honour their German heritage.

One thought on “S. Yarrow, ‘The impact of hostility on Germans in Britain’ 1914-1918

  1. This blog post provides an interesting summary of the work of S. Yarrow and does well, to emphasise the hostility that the German migrants were faced with. This blog is well structured and provides clear in-depth knowledge to the reader. It does well to summarise the key points made by S. Yarrow by referring to the hostility the German wives are faced with, as well as explaining the Destitute Aliens Committee and the CCUAR. This blog also does well to explain what the Author argued about the loyalty letters by stating that this was a way that Germans showed their loyalty to Britain. Overall this blog post clearly emphasises the hostility upon the German migrants in Britain 1914-1918 and provides the reader with the interesting context of the Germans throughout Britain within this period.

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