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Book Club: Four Thousand Lives: The Rescue of Jewish Men to Britain, 1939

With Clare Ungerson

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

About the Book

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-organized 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. (Description: Amazon).

About the Author and Guest

Professor Emerita Clare Ungerson was born in London to a German Jewish mother (originally from Stuttgart) and a Jewish father who had been born in London to parents who had come from near Lublin (then in Russia, now in Poland). Her maternal grandparents also managed to get out of Germany just in time at the end of June 1939. She was brought up in a completely secular household. Clare read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford and did a Masters in Social Policy at the London School of Economics. She then became an academic in the field of Social Policy, ending up as Professor of Social Policy at the University of Southampton. On retirement she moved to Sandwich in East Kent. Her book, 'Four Thousand Lives', was a retirement project for which she fortunately found a commercial publisher. The research for the book was mainly conducted in London and Jerusalem. She will be celebrating her 80th birthday in early February.

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