As the Nazi Party’s anti-Semitic agenda became clearer and more brutal, thousands of Jews fled Germany and its neighbouring countries. Following Kristallnacht in November 1938, the need to emigrate in order to avoid persecution became more urgent.
The 1940s Passenger Lists contain many Jewish individuals fleeing Europe for America and Australia. One example is a voyage made by the Brittanic on 3 May 1940 to New York. The ‘alien’ section of the Passenger List reveals a large number of Jewish passengers, many of them merchants. Most are from Germany and Austria.
Some of the passengers are described as having their last UK address as the Council for German Jewry’s Kitchener Camp, in Richborough, Kent:
The Kitchener Camp provided accommodation for almost 15,000 Jewish men, despite it having been designed to house only a fifth of that number. The camp was disbanded in June 1940 as, following the evacuation of Dunkirk, German and Austrian nationals were viewed as ‘enemy aliens’ and were subject to internment.
8,000 of the ‘enemy aliens’ were deported to Australia and Canada as the threat of German invasion increased, to ensure that they couldn’t pose any threat to national security.