The project seeks to highlight the history of refugees in Wales, specifically those from Central Europe who fled from National Socialism in the interwar and Second World War period. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of refugees found themselves in Wales from 1933 to 1945. Some were accepted as industrialists in the hope that new industries might combat severe unemployment; others as domestic servants to address a perceived shortage in the industry. Most, but not all, were from Jewish backgrounds who escaped the genocidal policies of the Nazis just in time to save themselves. Too frequently, their friends and families could not join them, and were murdered in the Holocaust. 

Those who made it to Wales experienced a variety of responses to their arrival; some positive, some negative. All of them were profoundly affected by their flight and subsequent attempts to rebuild their lives in Britain. In the following pages, you can explore the experiences of these refugees and how they were treated. Some came as children, others as adults; some stayed for a short period, while others spent their whole lives in Wales. They stayed in all parts of the country, from Anglesey and Llandudno in the North and Aberystwyth and Aberdyfi in Mid Wales, to Cardiff and Swansea in the South and Builth Wells in the East. Hopefully, their stories can inform modern-day attitudes towards those forced to flee their homes from persecution. 

Evelyn and Marion Porak, two refugee girls, on Aberystwyth Promenade, 1939 (© Brian Pinsent)