Enemies, allies and transnational histories: Germans, Irish, and Italians in second world war britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In mid-1940, Austrians, Germans, and Italians in Britain were labelled 'enemies' by the government and subject to mass internment. In an anti-alienist climate they were targets of particular popular hostility. Neutral Irish also attracted hostility and suspicion as Fifth Columnists and spies. But after mid-1940 the British government moved to an increasingly complex view of nationality with Churchill taking a close personal interest in the recruitment of enemy nationals and neutral Irish to the British forces. Those who served came to be regarded as loyal allies. They faced charges of treachery from their fellow-nationals, demonstrating the assumption-common to Britain as well as Germany, Ireland, and Italy-that patriotism should be singular and exclusive. There is some recent literature exploring mass internment and the histories of Germans, Irish, and Italians in Britain after 1940. The literature treats national groups separately, but offers an opportunity for comparative analysis. This article puts Germans, Irish, and Italians in the same frame, focusing on those who contributed to the British war effort as soldiers, war-workers, and propagandists and tracing common transnational themes in their histories. Transnational allegiances are neglected in literature on transnational history, but were common to many Germans, Irish, and Italians in wartime Britain. Falling outside national memories, their histories have been largely forgotten. Those who gave their lives are rarely commemorated.

LanguageEnglish
Pages63-86
Number of pages24
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Fingerprint

Transnational History
Enemy
Second World War
Allies
History
Hostility
Internment
Treachery
Columnist
Soldiers
Wartime
Climate
National Literature
Propagandist
Germany
British Government
Suspicion
Italy
Nationality
Comparative Analysis

Cite this

@article{00af6796a7574c40a144641a97a00100,
title = "Enemies, allies and transnational histories: Germans, Irish, and Italians in second world war britain",
abstract = "In mid-1940, Austrians, Germans, and Italians in Britain were labelled 'enemies' by the government and subject to mass internment. In an anti-alienist climate they were targets of particular popular hostility. Neutral Irish also attracted hostility and suspicion as Fifth Columnists and spies. But after mid-1940 the British government moved to an increasingly complex view of nationality with Churchill taking a close personal interest in the recruitment of enemy nationals and neutral Irish to the British forces. Those who served came to be regarded as loyal allies. They faced charges of treachery from their fellow-nationals, demonstrating the assumption-common to Britain as well as Germany, Ireland, and Italy-that patriotism should be singular and exclusive. There is some recent literature exploring mass internment and the histories of Germans, Irish, and Italians in Britain after 1940. The literature treats national groups separately, but offers an opportunity for comparative analysis. This article puts Germans, Irish, and Italians in the same frame, focusing on those who contributed to the British war effort as soldiers, war-workers, and propagandists and tracing common transnational themes in their histories. Transnational allegiances are neglected in literature on transnational history, but were common to many Germans, Irish, and Italians in wartime Britain. Falling outside national memories, their histories have been largely forgotten. Those who gave their lives are rarely commemorated.",
author = "Wendy Webster",
year = "2014",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1093/tcbh/hwt019",
language = "English",
volume = "25",
pages = "63--86",
journal = "Twentieth Century British History",
issn = "0955-2359",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Enemies, allies and transnational histories

T2 - Twentieth Century British History

AU - Webster, Wendy

PY - 2014/3

Y1 - 2014/3

N2 - In mid-1940, Austrians, Germans, and Italians in Britain were labelled 'enemies' by the government and subject to mass internment. In an anti-alienist climate they were targets of particular popular hostility. Neutral Irish also attracted hostility and suspicion as Fifth Columnists and spies. But after mid-1940 the British government moved to an increasingly complex view of nationality with Churchill taking a close personal interest in the recruitment of enemy nationals and neutral Irish to the British forces. Those who served came to be regarded as loyal allies. They faced charges of treachery from their fellow-nationals, demonstrating the assumption-common to Britain as well as Germany, Ireland, and Italy-that patriotism should be singular and exclusive. There is some recent literature exploring mass internment and the histories of Germans, Irish, and Italians in Britain after 1940. The literature treats national groups separately, but offers an opportunity for comparative analysis. This article puts Germans, Irish, and Italians in the same frame, focusing on those who contributed to the British war effort as soldiers, war-workers, and propagandists and tracing common transnational themes in their histories. Transnational allegiances are neglected in literature on transnational history, but were common to many Germans, Irish, and Italians in wartime Britain. Falling outside national memories, their histories have been largely forgotten. Those who gave their lives are rarely commemorated.

AB - In mid-1940, Austrians, Germans, and Italians in Britain were labelled 'enemies' by the government and subject to mass internment. In an anti-alienist climate they were targets of particular popular hostility. Neutral Irish also attracted hostility and suspicion as Fifth Columnists and spies. But after mid-1940 the British government moved to an increasingly complex view of nationality with Churchill taking a close personal interest in the recruitment of enemy nationals and neutral Irish to the British forces. Those who served came to be regarded as loyal allies. They faced charges of treachery from their fellow-nationals, demonstrating the assumption-common to Britain as well as Germany, Ireland, and Italy-that patriotism should be singular and exclusive. There is some recent literature exploring mass internment and the histories of Germans, Irish, and Italians in Britain after 1940. The literature treats national groups separately, but offers an opportunity for comparative analysis. This article puts Germans, Irish, and Italians in the same frame, focusing on those who contributed to the British war effort as soldiers, war-workers, and propagandists and tracing common transnational themes in their histories. Transnational allegiances are neglected in literature on transnational history, but were common to many Germans, Irish, and Italians in wartime Britain. Falling outside national memories, their histories have been largely forgotten. Those who gave their lives are rarely commemorated.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84894313271&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1093/tcbh/hwt019

DO - 10.1093/tcbh/hwt019

M3 - Article

VL - 25

SP - 63

EP - 86

JO - Twentieth Century British History

JF - Twentieth Century British History

SN - 0955-2359

IS - 1

ER -