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Four Thousand Lives: The Rescue of German Jewish Men to Britain in 1939 [Kindle Edition]

Clare Ungerson
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In November 1938 about 30,000 German Jewish men had been taken to concentration camps where they were subject to torture, starvation and arbitrary death. This book 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, in East Kent, to which up to 4,000 men could be brought while they waited for permanent settlement overseas - known as the Kitchener camp. The whole rescue was funded by the British Jewish community with help from American Jewry. Most of the men left their families behind. Would they get their families 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 in their midst? There was a well organised branch of the British Union of Fascists in Sandwich. Captain Canning, a virulent anti-Semite, lived there. He and his grand friends (including the Prince of Wales) used to meet there to play golf. This background adds to the drama of the race against time to save lives.

Product Description

About the Author

Clare Ungerson worked in academic research institutes for many years, and was an Emeritus Professor at the University of Southampton in 2004. She is the author of many books on social policy.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1639 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (15 Mar. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #301,576 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by J Powell 26 Mar. 2014
There is no question that this book deserves a 5-star rating. Not only is it a new, unique and thorough piece of research but, far from being an academic reference book, it spins out an amazing story from a real human viewpoint. From the first sentence I felt compelled to read on in order to find out what happened to Fritz, but instead found myself taken on a fascinating journey which turned out to be the story not just of this Fritz but of all the 'Fritz's' who ended up in Sandwich. We are shown every aspect of life on both sides of the camp fence from the surviving documents and from first-hand accounts from different individuals, families, communities and organisations in Sandwich, Kent, London, Great Britain and Europe. 'Four Thousand Lives' reaches out to everyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book 5 Jun. 2014
This fascinating and inspiring story has a cast of thousands, from Stanley Baldwin and the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Jewish refugees themselves, the population of Sandwich, the British Union of Fascists, and even Adolf Eichmann. From it you really feel what Britain was like just before the Second World War, and especially what the moral standards of its politics were. It was an excellent idea of Clare Ungerson's to begin with actual refugees' accounts of Kristallnacht and internment afterwards in German camps like Dachau, because this sets the right chillingly realistic focus and it was these events that actually woke up British political figures to what was happening in Germany. Even so it comes as a shock to discover that the British Government never contributed a penny to the establishment and running of the Kitchener Camp (it only produced the visas), all the funds were raised by Jewish organisations, and no-one thought there was anything unusual about that. Moreover, it is terrible to read that the government never took the initiative to enable the wives and children of the refugees to join them before the Holocaust engulfed them. Almost every page of this book raises ethical issues or describes impossible decisions that had to be taken immediately, and you just want to turn the page to discover what happened next. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a marvellous book, full of interesting and informative detail about an almost unknown subject. The story of the Kitchener camp with its German and Austrian Jewish refugees makes for fascinating and moving reading. Clare Ungerson has written in a really accessible and "chatty" style, telling the story of the men themselves as well as the setting up and running of the camp. Who would have thought that this camp existed right on the doorstep of a small English town. I was riveted and really touched by the stories and the little details that are contained in this piece of research. It's my book "find" of the year so far and I recommend it to anyone interested in local history and especially a local history of Jewish survival in a time of unimaginable horror.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear account of wartime hardship and kindness 18 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As the child of a parent who spent time in Kitchener Camp, I was impressed with the depth and incisive account of the creation, running and eventual closure of the camp. Clare's observations really enhance the bare facts and she is to be applauded for the way she weaves the research into a human story of survival. Anyone doing family history research on German/Jewish refugees who came to England in 1939 will find it illuminating. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know why asylum is such an important human gift.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing book 3 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book enormously. The author has managed to tell the detailed story of the rescue of these German Jewish men in a lively and entertaining way, yet without losing any of the well researched in-depth historical detail. The people involved in the rescue and those rescued leap out the pages. I found it fascinating, and very moving. It was a joy to read - I became totally immersed and read most of it in one sitting as I couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting read 20 May 2014
By Paul Breakell VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this book as I only live down the road from where the events in this book took place, so has local historical interest for me, it's a bit ploddy at times, but a real piece of history, the subject matter may not appeal to everyone
So I can only give it four stars for the content
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5.0 out of 5 stars New perspectives on a familiar story 17 April 2014
This is an outstanding study of a fascinating episode, which brings new evidence to bear on the otherwise familiar story of emigration to Britain from Nazi Germany in the 1930. The story that Clare Ungerson tells is of a specific group of refugees and their experiences in a camp near Richborough, in Kent - Kitchener Camp. She draws on previously unpublished material, including the diary of the camp manager and the papers of Norman Bentwich, the driving force behind the scheme, to piece together a story which provides new insights on the role of Anglo-Jewry during this period. She also brings to life the experiences of the refugees themselves, both in the camp and subsequently. Beautifully written and organised, it should become a standard source for any future discussion of the "Hitler exiles" to Britain in the 1930s..
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An interesting book
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars could be good
Bought it for my dad so have no idea
Published 2 months ago by Mr. Thomas E. Richardson
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly but readable, always flowing, never going down ...
Scholarly but readable, always flowing , never going down blind alleys, entertaining, sobering and dwelling to just the right amount on the humanity and the anguish and suffering... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dr Peter Le Feuvre
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very interesting read, especially as my father was one of the 4000
Published 3 months ago by M. R. Setti
5.0 out of 5 stars Tells a moving story but remains scholarly
Well done, Clare. What was fascinating was the strange contradiction between compassion for the refugees and bizarrely inhuman - to modern readers - and authoritarian behaviour by... Read more
Published 5 months ago by FRA
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Some inaccuracy, but well told story
Published 5 months ago by SR Franks
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating poignant story, beautifully written .
I'm not too fond of history books. This one is different. This is a story of human interest which captures the reader's imagination and holds it. Read more
Published 8 months ago by leila ware
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating well researched and very readable
This is a fascinating book, carefully researched and written in a very readable engaging style. I would highly recommend it, especially to anyone with an interest in the second... Read more
Published 9 months ago by wriggle
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling read
This is very far from a dry historical account of the events surrounding the Kitchener Camp. The writer manages to get inside the skin of the (mainly) men in the story and bring... Read more
Published 9 months ago by skate
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