The Scots (like the Irish) have a reputation for leaving their country to seek fame and fortune in far parts of the globe and have done fairly well out of it – although some of the early migrants were driven from their homes by rapacious landlords (The Highland Clearances) and famine.
Armenians were brutally evicted from their lands by the Turks after accusations that they had been helping the (Russian) enemy – the famous travel writer, Leigh Fermour, paints a vivid picture in his final book of meeting up with some of their descendants in the early 1930s in Plovdiv in central Bulgaria (as I did 75 years later).
Greek aggression led in the early 1920s to savage ethnic cleansing and population exchange between Turkey and Greece; Italians bled from the country in the early part of the 20th century; Hitler’s persecution of Jews in the 1930s led to a massive exodus from which America and Britain were the beneficiaries; no quarter was given during the murderous Spanish civil war and led to a huge refugee flow across mountains to southern France.
The end of the war – and the radical redrawing of European boundaries by the victorious forces – saw tens of millions of people forcibly removed from their homes and trekking in all directions. Keith Lowe’s 2012 Savage Continent; Europe in the aftermath of World War II rightly talks of it being “an until now unacknowledged time of lawlessness and terror” to whose portrayal the final section of Stephen A’Barrow’s recent Death of a Nation added a powerful voice.
Post war saw the first ships arrive in Britain with West Indians seeking a better life – joining Indian and Pakistan middle class people whose restaurants woke the country up from a gastronomic torpor… and Germany was, of course, the recipient of many Turks in the 1970s also seeking a better life there….
John Berger’s 1975 book The Seventh Man was so called because he reckoned that fully one in seven of the working force in Britain and Europe was then an immigrant.
And indeed – full disclosure - so am I! My blog masthead states, rather cheekily, that I am “a political refugee from Thatcher’s Britain” but, truth be told, I am actually an economic refugee. It’s the fees I earned from my work with (mainly) Danish, Dutch and German companies that keeps me in my current life- style in Bulgaria and Romania. No need to make ironic comments – call it “reverse flow”……
The shocking scenes which hit us earlier in the year from the Mediterranean and now from the Balkans show a crisis, we are told, as great as the post-war period. Figures become meaningless after a time – so what are we to make of the figure of 50 million – quickly taken up to 60 and then 70 million?? This report gives us the detail
But materialism and fear (the later instilled by the prejudice whipped up by the media) have hardened our hearts. It appears that the old spirit is still alive only in Germany….
update; a few minutes after posting this, I came across this short but masterly podcast about the situation - putting to shame the outpourings of the corporate media which spew their poison at us every minute of the day. A real example of what a lone voice can achieve!!!!