How far was Britain a multicultural society in 1939?
The main immigrant group in Britain in 1939 was Jews, who lived predominantly in London and other big cities, such as Leeds.
Some immigrant Jews had been living in Britain for many years; during the second half of the nineteenth century there had been attacks on Jews in Russia (pogroms) and many had fled to Britain.
Others had arrived in the 1930s from Nazi Germany. Jews lived in established communities but tended to be well integrated.
Other nationalities which had emigrated to Britain included Greeks and Italians, who mostly came looking for work.
During the Second World War, many Italian and German prisoners of war were brought to Britain. Most of the camps that were set up to hold them were in Wales and Scotland and were away from big cities.
At the end of the War, many PoWs (prisoner of war) did not return home, especially Italians, because there was already a large Italian community in Britain.
The most important group that arrived in Britain during the Second World War was the Americans, who arrived in large numbers from 1942 onwards.
The Americans often received a mixed welcome. On the one hand, they were valuable allies who could help and support the British armed forces in their struggle against Hitler; but they were often seen as brash because they had more money and luxuries than Britain.
What immigrants were living in Britain in 1945?
By 1945, the picture was much as it had been in 1939. Gradually all of the PoWs returned home or were assimilated into British society.
Why have immigrants come to Britain in the past?
Britain is a democracy. Many political refugees have come to Britain to escape persecution by dictators.
In the 1930s people came from Germany and other European countries to escape the Nazis.
In the 1960s and 1970s Asians fled from Kenya and Uganda.
In Britain there has been less persecution of ethnic minorities than in other countries. This means that Britain is seen as safe place to settle.
Immigrants are free to practise their religion without prejudice.
Britain has also attracted what are now called economic immigrants.
People from the Commonwealth have come to Britain because of trade links, or because they see it as the mother country.
Why did large numbers of immigrants begin to arrive in Britain from the Commonwealth 1948 onwards?
During the Second World War many Commonwealth citizens fought and died for Britain.
After the war the Labour government passed the British Nationality Act in 1948.
This said that all citizens of the Commonwealth were British citizens.
The Act meant that Commonwealth citizens had the right to come and settle in Britain.
The earliest immigrants came from India, where, after independence and partition in 1947, some Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs found themselves isolated.
In the early 1950s many immigrants began to arrive from the West Indies.
Emigration to the USA was cut from 65,000 a year to just 800.
India, Pakistan and the West Indies came to be known as the New Commonwealth.
The National Health Service had been set up in 1948 and railway and bus transport had been nationalised. Large numbers of extra workers were needed.
Advertising campaigns were started in the West Indies and India and Pakistan to try to attract workers. In 1954, 9,000 West Indians came to Britain, rising to 26,000 in 1956 and 66,000 in 1961.
Wages in Britain were much higher than in other parts of the Commonwealth and the standard of living was rising very quickly.
What problems did immigrants face when they arrived in Britain?
Immigrants often found themselves living in...