Sympathetic Bystanders: The Dissemination of the Holocaust and Reactions by Gentile Britons, 1939-1945

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University of Guelph

This thesis examines the depth to which the dissemination of the Holocaust in the British mainstream media resonated amongst the Gentile British population and how their reactions to European Jewry’s destruction influenced their government’s responses to it. The resonance of the Final Solution was inhibited by large segments of the Gentile British population displaying varying degrees of anti-Semitism, contending with tight censorship guidelines by the Ministry of Information towards Jewish “atrocity story” propaganda and the unbelievability of the news. However, British public opinion was found to be sympathetic toward the plight of continental European Jews, and their government's understanding of this forced it to proclaim the 17 December 1942 Declaration, publicly acknowledging the Holocaust, and led to the Bermuda Conference of April 1943 to explore options for rescuing Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe. Although these British-led initiatives did not produce results, both had been primarily influenced by British public opinion.

Holocaust, Jews, Gentiles, Britons, Mainstream Media, Public Opinion