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Brand: Clare Ungerson

Four Thousand Lives

by Clare Ungerson

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Four Thousand Lives : The Rescue of German Jewish Men to Britain 1939

In November 1938 about 30,000 German Jewish men were taken to concentration camps where they were subjected to torture, starvation and arbitrary death. In Four Thousand Lives, Clare Ungerson tells the remarkable story of how the grandees of Anglo-Jewry persuaded the British Government to allow them to establish a transit camp in Sandwich, East Kent, to which up to 4,000 men could be brought while they waited for permanent settlement overseas. The whole rescue was funded by the British Jewish community, with help from American Jewry.

Most of the men had to leave their families behind. Would they get them out in time? And how would the people of Sandwich - a town the same size as the camp - react to so many German speaking Jewish foreigners? There was a well-organised branch of the British Union of Fascists in Sandwich. Lady Pearson, the BUF candidate for Canterbury, was President of the Sandwich Chamber of Commerce and Captain Gordon Canning, a prominent Fascist and close friend of Oswald Mosley, lived there and he and his grand friends used to meet there to play golf.

This background adds to the drama of the race against time to save lives. Four Thousand Lives is not just a story of salvation, but also a revealing account of how a small English community reacted to the arrival of so many German Jews in their midst.

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