Pictures of Windrush-era migrants who found sanctuary in Britain from 1938 to 1956

Their new horizon: From the Kindertransport Jews to Windrush-era migrants… the desperate and hopeful who found sanctuary in Britain from 1938 to 1956

  • Exhibition at Birkbeck Peltz Gallery showcases stories of refugees and immigrants to Britain from 1930s-50s 
  • Images of Kindertransport and Windrush migrations, and African-American women Red Cross volunteers
  • The photographs also reveal the post-war child Holocaust survivors who found refuge in the Lake District 

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Striking photographs telling the stories of refugees and immigrants who came to Britain after the First World War are set to be revealed for the first time. 

The images of Kindertransport and Windrush-era migrations, as well as wartime African-American women Red Cross volunteers, will be showcased in a new exhibition at Birkbeck’s Peltz Gallery.  

Brought together for the first time, the prints by renowned émigré photographers Gerti Deutsch and Kurt Hutton, together with Bert Hardy and Haywood Magee, originally appeared in Picture Postmagazine. 

With its ‘unashamedly anti-fascist editorial stance’, the magazine was founded in 1938 by Hungarian-Jewish refugee Stefan Lorant and once sold over a million copies weekly as it focused on issues of displacement, migration and ethnicity amid the changing face of wartime and post-war Britain. 

Photos show how refugees from the Nazis, and Afro-Caribbean immigrants made their home in Britain and helped to rebuild the country after the war. 

The exhibition also includes images of post-war child Holocaust survivors who found refuge in the Lake District.  

17th December 1938: Three of the several hundred Jewish German children who have arrived in Britain to escape persecution on arrival at Dovercourt Bay holiday camp near Harwich. Each is wearing a tag bearing his name

31st October 1942: The first five African-American servicewomen of the American Red Cross to arrive in Britain during World War II, Bristol, October 1942. They are in the UK to run the American Red Cross Club on Great George Street - a club for black servicemen only, and the first of its kind in Britain. Left to right: Mrs Sydney Taylor Brown, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Henrine Ward, of Chicago, Illinois, Carol Jarett, of Denver, Colorado, Magnolia Latimer, of Atlanta, Georgia, and Gladys Edward Martin, of Topeka, Kansas. Original Publication: Picture Post, edition 1277

31st October 1942: The first five African-American servicewomen of the American Red Cross to arrive in Britain during World War II, Bristol, October 1942. They are in the UK to run the American Red Cross Club on Great George Street – a club for black servicemen only, and the first of its kind in Britain. Left to right: Mrs Sydney Taylor Brown, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Henrine Ward, of Chicago, Illinois, Carol Jarett, of Denver, Colorado, Magnolia Latimer, of Atlanta, Georgia, and Gladys Edward Martin, of Topeka, Kansas. Original Publication: Picture Post, edition 1277

Young Jewish refugees at a camp near Windermere in Cumbria, 1946. The camp was known as the Calgarth Housing Estate and  run by the Central British Jewish Relief Fund for young people rescued from the Holocaust. Original Publication: Picture Post - 4003

Young Jewish refugees at a camp near Windermere in Cumbria, 1946. The camp was known as the Calgarth Housing Estate and  run by the Central British Jewish Relief Fund for young people rescued from the Holocaust. Original Publication: Picture Post – 4003

2nd July 1949: A couple walking down a London street. The photograph was published in the Picture Post - 4825 ,under the headline, 'Is There A British Colour Bar'. Striking image-led stories with titles such as “Their First Day in England” or “Is there a British Colour Bar?” showed Picture Post as distinctly attentive to the changing face of wartime and post-war Britain

2nd July 1949: A couple walking down a London street. The photograph was published in the Picture Post – 4825 ,under the headline, ‘Is There A British Colour Bar’. Striking image-led stories with titles such as ‘Their First Day in England’ or ‘Is there a British Colour Bar?’ showed Picture Post as distinctly attentive to the changing face of wartime and post-war Britain

31st October 1942: This picture was in the Picture Post, 1277 under the title, ‘The First Coloured Service Girls Get Down To Work In Britain’. Gladys Edward Martin, of Topeka, Kansas, one of the first five African-American servicewomen of the American Red Cross to arrive in Britain during World War II, Bristol, October 1942. Formerly director of social service at the Homer Phillips Hospital in St Louis, she was in the UK to help run the American Red Cross Club

Exhibition co-curator Amanda Hopkinson, daughter of photographer Gerti Deutsch and Picture Post editor Tom Hopkinson, and Honorary Research Professor, City University, said: ‘For a dozen years from 1938 onwards, Picture Post was the best-selling weekly magazine of the common people albeit produced by some very individual talents. 

‘It brought to the UK a continental tradition of photo-journalism combined with a ‘strongly political and anti-fascist’ editorial position – and an eye for the unexpected and amusing. Its legacy continues to influence photojournalism to this day.’

Mike Berlin (Birkbeck) exhibition co-curator added: ‘As we approach the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, it is an appropriate moment to mark the extraordinary contribution made to British life by refugees from the Nazis, alongside the remarkable role played by Afro-Caribbean immigrants. Both groups made their home here and helped to rebuild post-war Britain.’

Refugees, Newcomers, Citizens: migration stories from Picture Post, 1938-1956, will run at the Peltz Gallery, located in the School of Arts at Birkbeck, from 3 June – 5 July. Book free tickets here  

Picture Post - 42: 'Their First Day In England', published 17th December 1938: A German Jewish boy, one of several hundred who have arrived in Britain as part of the 'Kindertransport', rings the dinner bell at Dovercourt Bay camp, near Harwich in Essex, 1938. Their names and addresses were kept secret to protect those they left behind

Picture Post – 42: ‘Their First Day In England’, published 17th December 1938: A German Jewish boy, one of several hundred who have arrived in Britain as part of the ‘Kindertransport’, rings the dinner bell at Dovercourt Bay camp, near Harwich in Essex, 1938. Their names and addresses were kept secret to protect those they left behind

31st October 1942: Mrs Sydney Taylor Brown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the first five African-American servicewomen of the American Red Cross to arrive in Britain during World War II, Bristol, October 1942. A graduate and social worker, she was in the UK to help run the American Red Cross Club on Great George Street - a club for black servicemen only, and the first of its kind in Britain

31st October 1942: Mrs Sydney Taylor Brown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the first five African-American servicewomen of the American Red Cross to arrive in Britain during World War II, Bristol, October 1942. A graduate and social worker, she was in the UK to help run the American Red Cross Club on Great George Street – a club for black servicemen only, and the first of its kind in Britain

1956: West Indian immigrants arrive at Victoria Station, London, after their journey from Southampton Docks. Original Publication: Picture Post, issue 8405

1956: West Indian immigrants arrive at Victoria Station, London, after their journey from Southampton Docks. Original Publication: Picture Post, issue 8405

2nd July 1949: A West Indian couple dancing in a bar in Britain. Founded in 1938 by Hungarian-Jewish refugee Stefan Lorant, Picture Postmagazine brought an innovative continental photojournalistic tradition to Britain, selling over a million copies weekly. From the start it had an unashamedly anti-fascist editorial stance, with a unique sensitivity to issues of displacement, migration and ethnicity - and included photos like this under the title, 'Is There A British Colour Bar?'

2nd July 1949: A West Indian couple dancing in a bar in Britain. Founded in 1938 by Hungarian-Jewish refugee Stefan Lorant, Picture Postmagazine brought an innovative continental photojournalistic tradition to Britain, selling over a million copies weekly. From the start it had an unashamedly anti-fascist editorial stance, with a unique sensitivity to issues of displacement, migration and ethnicity – and included photos like this under the title, ‘Is There A British Colour Bar?’

1956: Immigrants arriving at Victoria Station, London. Originally published in the Picture Post, 8405, under the title, 'Thirty Thousand Colour Problems'. The exhibition celebrates the contribution made to British life by very different groups of immigrants, while commemorating their specific experiences of loss, dispossession and uprooting

1956: Immigrants arriving at Victoria Station, London. Originally published in the Picture Post, 8405, under the title, ‘Thirty Thousand Colour Problems’. The exhibition celebrates the contribution made to British life by very different groups of immigrants, while commemorating their specific experiences of loss, dispossession and uprooting

A young Jewish refugee at a camp near Windermere in Cumbria, 1946. The exhibition juxtaposes different yet parallel stories of migration and settlement

A young Jewish refugee at a camp near Windermere in Cumbria, 1946. The exhibition juxtaposes different yet parallel stories of migration and settlement

31st October 1942: Henrine Ward of Chicago, Illinois. A former dean of a women's college and director of women's work in the Chicago Y.W.C.A, who also helped run the American Red Cross Club on Great George Street

31st October 1942: Henrine Ward of Chicago, Illinois. A former dean of a women’s college and director of women’s work in the Chicago Y.W.C.A, who also helped run the American Red Cross Club on Great George Street

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