From Scottsboro to Munich: Race and Political Culture in 1930s Britain

By Susan D. Pennybacker | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
DIASPORAS: REFUGEES AND EXILES

The air in London was suffocating.… Fritz Kortner and Johanna Hofer, Oscar
Homolka and many others were furiously learning English. However the Allies
had permitted the Germans to rebuild their fleet, Mosley and his followers pa-
raded in the streets and Berthold told me that watching such a demonstration
Fritz Kortner had exclaimed, “My next screen test will be in Chinese!” [Lon-
don] was filled with German refugees.… Everyone hoped to go to Hollywood or
New York, and was waiting for a visa to the USA.
Salka Viertel, Dorchester Hotel, 1932

I do not know what I was to be charged with. There are thousands of people in
concentration camps today who do not know what they are charged with."
Ernst Toller, Mock Reichstag Fire Trial, 1933

How he survived them they could never understand:
Had they not beggared him themselves to prove
They could not live without their dogmas or their land?
W. H. Auden, from Diaspora

ON JANUARY 24, 1933, in the first days following Hitler's assumption of power, a statement calling for assistance to German refugees appeared in London. Its signers included the French writer André Gide, the filmmaker Ivor Montagu, and the trade unionist and Labour MP John Jagger.1 A month later, the aid organization Workers International Relief, issued an appeal on behalf of its centers in Germany.

[Workers are being] fed and organized to continue the fight against fascism.… So-
cialist and Communist meetings and newspapers are suppressed, working-class or
ganizations proscribed, and raids and suppressions carried out against the more
open-minded sections and press of the German people. Against the Jews the methods
of the Tsar are being used.… Nor is the attack confined to political organizations.

The signatures of writer Louis Golding, Helen Crawfurd, sexologist Havelock Ellis, Henry Nevinson, Harry Pollitt, Sylvia Pankhurst, Carmel Haden Guest, physicist Hyman Levy, and Shapurgi Saklatvala all appeared on the statement— a largely but not exclusively communist group in outlook and commitment.

-200-

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