“Within Our Gates: A New Perspective on Germans in Glasgow During the First World War” by Ben Braber analyses the treatment of Glasgow’s German community during the period of anti-German violence that occurred throughout Britain.
Braber looks at why the anti-German riots of 1915 did not take place in Glasgow, arguing that we must analyse the events and circumstances locally, rather than make broad assumptions on Britain’s treatment of this issue. He states that the riots did not occur in Glasgow because the desire to “strike out against Germans” was focused on political action and public debate. He also considers that the anti-German issue was overshadowed by other concerns at this time, for instance, the rent strike. Braber believes that the German community that stayed in Glasgow was under immense pressure to denounce Germany and leave their organisations, which overall led to the demise of the German community in Glasgow. He uses attitudes towards Jewish population as a comparison to the British views on the German community during the war. Also throughout the article, he briefly looks at other immigration communities, such as Belgian and Russian immigrants. The author compares the treatment of these immigrant groups with the treatment of German immigrants. Belgian refugees, for example, received a warm welcome, and the “alleged German atrocities” towards Belgium were continuously used as justification for the extreme measures against Germans living in Britain.
The article begins with a discussion of the popular debate around the issue of the deterioration of the German immigrant community, reviewing the arguments of historians such as Saunders and Panayi. Following this, Braber looks at migration as a whole, showing that Germans contributed to British society, working as clerks and waiters, for example. Braber then compares this to Jewish immigrants, highlighting that they often, for instance, worked in retail. The author then goes on to look at the measures that were taken to deal with enemy aliens, such as the Aliens Restrictions Act of 1914, which allowed authorities to restrict their lives and confiscate property, for example. Furthermore, following the sinking of the Lusitania, disturbances took place throughout Britain, including in London and Manchester. Braber lastly looks at the wider context of how the violence against Germans reflected and influenced other responses to war and unrest, arguing that the Glasgow race riots of 1919, for example, resembled the anti-German violence earlier that decade.
Overall, Braber’s article is a useful analysis of Glasgow’s response to the anti-German attitudes that were occurring throughout Britain during the war. The author confidently inserts his own opinion within the context of historical debate, and uses secondary views to strengthen his points. Furthermore, the use of primary sources, such as the Glasgow Herald, aid Braber’s argument by giving first-hand evidence from the period he addresses. Overall, Braber presents a useful and insightful argument.