Politics and Economics in 1930s Britain

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Politics and Economics in 1930s Britain
This sheet gives you some background information about Britain during the 1930s. Imagine what it would be like to be a refugee like Martin Bloch arriving in this country. What kind of country would they see and what kind of welcome do you think they had when they arrived here?

For many people in Britain the 1930s was a period of great hardship. The Wall Street Crash in 1929 started a worldwide economic depression that lasted for much of the decade. Old industries such as steel, ship-building and coal mining suffered the most. For the people of Britain the spectre of unemployment was always present.

Für viele Menschen in Großbritannien in den 1930er Jahren war eine Zeit von großer Härte. The Wall Börsencrash im Jahr 1929 begann eine weltweite wirtschaftliche Depression, die für dauerte viel des Jahrzehnts. Alte Industrien wie Stahl, Schiffbau und Kohle Bergbau am meisten gelitten. Für die Menschen in Großbritannien das Gespenst Arbeitslosigkeit war immer präsent.

Unemployment Figures in Britain
January 1929 1,434,000
January 1930 1,534,000
January 1931 2,671,000
January 1932 2,794,000
January 1933 2,979,000
January 1934 2,457,000
January 1935 2,397,000
January 1936 2,229,000
January 1937 1,766,000
January 1938 1,927,000
January 1939 2,133,000

Politics in 1930s Britain
The general election of 1929 saw the Labour Party become, for the first time in their history, the largest party in Parliament. They then formed the government under Ramsey MacDonald. On 23rd August 1931 the Cabinet voted to cut unemployment benefit by 10%. Several ministers resigned. MacDonald then formed a new ‘National’ government with many Labour MPs, Conservative MPs and some Liberal MPs. MacDonald was expelled from the Labour Party but the Labour Party did not recover its strength until 1945. The 1930s also saw the rise of minor parties that offered radical solutions to Britain’s economic problems. Both the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and the British Communist Party gained in popularity. The BUF looked to Nazi Germany and fascist Italy for inspiration whilst the Communists were inspired by Soviet Union under Josef Stalin. The BUF never gained any seats in Parliament while the Communists managed to win just one seat in 1935.

Die allgemeinen Wahlen von 1929 sahen die Labour-Partei geworden, zum ersten Mal in ihrer Geschichte, die größte Partei im Parlament. Dann bildeten die Regierung unter Ramsey MacDonald. Am 23. August 1931 das Kabinett gestimmt auf Arbeitslosengeld um 10% gesenkt. Mehrere Minister zurückgetreten. MacDonald bildete dann eine neue "nationale" Regierung mit vielen Labour-Abgeordneten, Abgeordnete der Konservativen und einige liberale Abgeordnete. MacDonald wurde von den vertriebenen Labour Party aber die Labour Party nicht wieder seine Stärke bis 1945. Die 1930er Jahre sah auch den Aufstieg der kleineren Parteien, radikale Lösungen angeboten Großbritanniens wirtschaftliche Probleme. Sowohl die britische Union der Faschisten (BUF) und die Britischen Kommunistischen Partei an Popularität gewonnen. Die BUF sah Nazi Deutschland und das faschistische Italien nach Inspiration, während die Kommunisten wurden inspiriert von Sowjetunion unter Josef Stalin. Die BUF nie gewonnen keine Sitze in Parlament, während die Kommunisten gelang es nur einem Sitz im Jahr 1935 zu gewinnen.

Jewish immigration to Britain in the 1930s
Along with artists such as Martin Bloch there were other Germans who wanted to come to Britain in the 1930s. Some of them, like trade unionists and socialists, were escaping political persecution. The largest group of Germans to arrive in Britain in the 1930s were Jewish.

In the years after the Nazis came to power in 1933 life for German Jews became more and more difficult. In 1935 a law was passed that excluded Jews from many jobs and forbade them from marrying non-Jewish Germans. Many Jews wanted to leave Germany but many European countries were reluctant to...
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