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Berlin to London: An Emotional History of two Refugees

February 14 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm


In this talk, Esther Saraga explores her complex and ambivalent relationships as daughter and academic to a vast collection of family papers concerned with my parents’ forced migration from Nazi Germany.  She recognised that the letters do not ‘speak for themselves’, but tell several different possible stories.   I have used the papers to explore ‘how it felt’ to live through these historic events. The experiences of these two refugees, set in their historical context, shed light on life in Nazi Germany, the difficulties of getting out and into the UK, and on British attitudes and policies towards refugees. Their contradictory experiences challenge simple views of Britain’s liberal tradition of welcoming refugees. She draws parallels between her parents’ experiences in the 1930s and people today – both refugees and the children of the Windrush generation – in relation to issues such as the ‘tyranny of documentation’, statelessness and problems with the Home Office.

Esther Saraga is the daughter of German Jewish refugees. She has forty years’ experience teaching and researching in higher education, moving from a first degree in mathematics in Cambridge to a PhD in Psychology in London, feeling finally at home as a feminist critical social scientist at the Open University.  She retired in 2009 to concentrate on this project. Berlin to London. An Emotional History of Two Refugees was published by Vallentine Mitchell in 2019.


February 14
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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Redland Quaker Meeting House
126 Hampton Road
Bristol, BS6 6EJ United Kingdom
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