Immigration into Britain: The Germans

'I have been ostracised by my native country.... I am boycotted by my adopted country'. During the two world wars Germans in Britain found themselves to be enemy aliens, victims of suspicion and prejudice in a country which had been their refuge from a hostile homeland.

This century has been so darkened by the wars between Germany and Britain that it is easy to forget the long peace between them stretching back well beyond the House of Hanover. If there was any antagonism it was rather between Britain and France, perhaps because France was a sufficiently consolidated political power to be regarded as a threat which Germany was not. Germany was rather admired as a land of Kultur, of philosophy, literature, art, especially music. It was a characteristic gesture when Cecil Rhodes left his scholarships to Germans as well as Britons and Americans, in the bold hope that mutual understanding among the 'three strongest powers' would render future wars impossible, and in fact an Anglo-German alliance seemed a practical proposition only a few years before the entente with France and Russia.

There were tensions however. Prince Albert was not universally popular, and Bismarck, despite his protestations, was not really an Anglophile. But relations between the countries were such that not a few Germans sought their fortune in Britain: by 1914 their number was well over 50,000.

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