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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > February 2017 > The refugee crisis solved in 24 pages

The refugee crisis solved in 24 pages

A 1939 leaflet gave displaced Jews unflinching advice. It contained lessons for today

The smallest thing is often more instructive than the grandest gesture. The United Nations held a summit on refugees this autumn, but it left the world’s 65m-plus displaced people with little prospect of swifter resettlement. In contrast, a little booklet, now more than 70 years old, could offer-— if not an actual blueprint—some serious pointers, for smoothing the reception of today’s refugees.

Published in 1939 and entitled While you are in England (pictured right), it was put out by the philanthropic German-Jewish Aid Committee in conjunction with the Jewish Board of Deputies and addressed to the thousands of German Jews then fleeing to Britain. Its modest promise was “helpful information and guidance for every refugee” and it provided exactly that. The booklet came to my notice as a facsimile, having been reproduced by London’s estimable Wiener Library as it publicised its National Holocaust Archive. Shame to say, it languished on my desk for weeks before something made me pick it up and read all of its 24 briskly instructive pages.

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In Prospect’s February issue: Tom Clark and Luke Harding examine the attacks facing democracy. Clark reviews two books on democracy and suggests a new intellectual assault may be on the horizon. Harding looks at Russia’s attempts to derail the democratic process by focussing on its technical frailty. Melissa Deckman asks why women voted for Trump, while Duncan Bell charts the story of the Anglosphere and suggests Brexiteers are indulging in an old fantasy. Also in this issue: Matthew Harries asks if it’s time to ban the nuclear bomb, Adam Mars-Jones looks at the way we perceive aliens in films and Elizabeth Pisani explores the role of activists in changing the perception of Aids and its pushing for treatment.