Manchester Refugee Project

With the publication of Bill Williams' book, this project is now completed.  

A study of the Jewish refugee experience in Manchester. Between 1933 and 1940 Manchester received between seven and eight thousand refugees from Fascist Europe. In this book Bill Williams brings to fruition his long-running research project (sponsored by the AJR) which sought to assess the responses to this crisis in the 'liberal city' of Manchester. Using documentary and oral sources he explores the work of those sectors of local society which took part in the work of rescue. Further information


A three-year research programme (2002-05), sponsored by the Association for Jewish Refugees, centres on the experiences and impact of refugees from Hitler's Europe who chose to settle in Manchester between 1932 and 1940. It will embrace:

• The European backgrounds of the refugees;
• The circumstances of their departure and arrival in Manchester;
• Their personal experiences before, during and after the Second World War;
• The agencies available for their support;
• Their short and long term influence on both the Jewish community and the city of Manchester;
• The patterns of their settlement, cultural activity and religious affiliation and personal identity in contemporary Manchester

Bill WilliamsThe principal researcher is Bill Williams (email:, who will compile a book based upon the research in the year following it completion. The aim would be a book which would be both scholarly and accessible.

Bill Williams is assisted by three research assistants dedicated to particular, closely defined tasks: Rosalyn Livshin (email: ), is a highly experienced interviewer and an historian who has already worked with Jewish refugees. Lynne Jesky ( and Yaakov Wise ( are Ph.D. students at the University of Manchester whose work relates in part to the experiences and impact of Jewish refugees in Manchester.

Information relating to refugees in Manchester will be gratefully received.

The creation of the CJS-AJR project is largely the result of the efforts of Mr Werner Lachs, chairman of the Manchester branch of the AJR and himself a former refugee from Cologne who arrived in Britain in June 1939, to facilitate an examination of the religious, social, cultural and economic impact of the arrival in Manchester of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany in the 1930s onwards. The research will focus upon the experiences of the first and second generation of refugees, together with the responses from both the Jewish and non-Jewish host population.

Mr Ronald Channing, AJR Head of Media and Communal Relations in London (email:, commented that the AJR was delighted "that the history of the German-speaking refugee community in Manchester and its environs will be thoroughly researched and recorded for all time by a highly qualified and motivated scholar from the prestigious Manchester University."

Professor Bernard Jackson, Co-Director of the Centre for Jewish Studies (email:, welcomed the award as "a major and significant addition to the Centre's work in modern Jewish history, reflecting our close relationship with and interest in the local community".