At a time when violence and upheaval in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere have created an upsurge in the number of refugees, many look to historical examples for potential continuities and solutions.
Conflict and war, political, religious and ethnic persecution have always caused the displacement of populations. Civilians are forced from their homes, fearing for their safety and future. This exhibition examines responses to Jewish and other refugees in Britain during the 1930s and 1940s. Built on the rich collection of refugee sources held by the Wiener Library, the exhibition explores a number of themes, including governmental policy on asylum and the kinds of assistance offered by humanitarian aid organisations at the international, national and local level.
A Bitter Road also looks closely at the myriad experiences of Jewish refugees in Britain, including of surveillance and detention, poverty, separation and isolation. It highlights their resilience and means for coping with the hardships of integrating into a new society. Through the voices of refugees, A Bitter Road explores how refugees negotiated the road to safety and attempted to rebuild their lives. This timely exhibition raises important questions about historical examples of forced migration and Britain’s response in the past – and how the past can inform our responses to refugees today.