Great Britain

In co-operation with the University of Cambridge, the Global Archives Initiative has examined the idea of Great Britain as an exile country since 2016. While few people found refuge in Great Britain during the first years of the National Socialist rule, tens of thousands, including numerous writers, artists, and scientists from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, found safety there after 1938.

Some of the most prominent writers who sought refuge either temporarily or for an extended period in Great Britain include Stefan Zweig, Elias Canetti, Felix Braun, Wolfgang Hildesheimer, Alfred Kerr, and Oskar Kokoschka. Philosophers and social scientists like Karl Mannheim, Norbert Elias, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Ernst Gombrich also emigrated to Great Britain. Those in British exile developed an extremely active cultural sphere. Their literary and scientific works were accepted and published by exile organizations as well as by British newspapers and periodicals. Their support, in turn, contributed to the emigrants’ continued artistic and academic activity.

British institutes and organizations such as the Wiener Library, the Warburg Institute, the British Library, the Leo Baeck Institute in London, as well as many universities, hold numerous documents, collections, and unpublished works of exiled artists and scientists in their archives, thus protecting the traces and memories of their fate. Notable holdings include those regarding Victor Leopold Ehrenberg (University of London), Felix Langer (Wiener Library), Rudolf Olden (University College London), Kurt Schwitters (University of the Arts London), Walter Solmitz, Robert Eisler, Ernst Gombrich, Otto Kurz, Fritz Saxl and Gertrude Bing (Warburg Institute), Herbert Thoma (University of London), and Ernest André Gellner (British Library of Political and Economic Science). These unique documents help protect the memory of exiled scholars’ and artists’ life and work. They reveal important information regarding the conditions under which these people lived and worked and how these conditions affected their work.

A selected bibliography regarding emigration to Great Britain can be found here.