In February 1945, Winston Churchill, speaking in the House of Commons to cordial cheers, expressed the earnest hope that Polish forces who had fought under the British flag might, if they desired, be offered citizenship of the British Empire. ‘We should think it an honour’ he stated ‘to have such … faithful and valiant warriors dwelling among us as if they were men of our own blood’.1 In a parliamentary debate in 1947, European Volunteer Workers (EVWs) were described as ‘ideal immigrants’, and as ‘first-class people, who if let into this country would be of great benefit to our stock’, whose love of freedom signalled ‘the spirit and stuff of which we can make Britons’ (quoted in Kay and Miles 1992, 54). Recruited to the British labour force from displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria under a government scheme in the late 1940s, the term ‘European Volunteer Worker’ merged into one category a group whose diversity was perhaps their most notable characteristic. Predominantly from Eastern Europe, EVWs included a range of nationalities — chiefly Polish, Ukrainian, Yugoslavian, Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian — in a scheme which was later extended to Sudeten Germans and Austrians. Although the majority were men recruited into mining, agriculture and textiles, 21,434 women came to Britain under this scheme — mainly to work in the textile industry in Lancashire and West Yorkshire.
|Title of host publication||Gendering Migration|
|Subtitle of host publication||Masculinity, Femininity and Ethnicity in Post-War Britain|
|Editors||Louise Ryan, Wendy Webster|
|Publisher||Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group|
|Number of pages||18|
|Publication status||Published - 18 Sep 2008|
|Name||Studies in Migration and Diaspora|