The Ambiguities of Ethnic Identification
German-Jewish refugees have by now lived in Britain for well over a generation. For those who came at the beginning of the Nazi regime, it has in fact been nearly 50 years. This means that most of those who were born in Germany have spent a longer period of their life in this country than in their country of origin. This was often pointed out to me by respondents when I asked them whether they felt themselves to be fully-fledged British or English citizens. How could they not, after all those years, was a common reaction. My question was obviously considered absurd by quite a few of them. But further enquiry revealed that their feelings of identity were rather more complex and did not present a picture of simple progression from ‘Germanness’ to ‘Englishness’, with ‘Jewishness adjusted somehow along the way. Nor were attitudes towards Britain or Germany straightforward. On the contrary: ambiguous and contradictory feelings frequently predominated. This did not make it easy to unravel the various strands of a respondent’s attitudes. Nevertheless, an attempt will be made in this chapter to single out some crucial aspects. It is hoped, that, at the end, we will have a clearer idea what at present constitutes the identity of the British of German-Jewish extraction.
KeywordsJewish Community German Society Black Immigration Ethnic Identification English People
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- 20.Fred Uhlmann, The Making of an Englishman (London, 1960), p. 134.Google Scholar