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Taking Sides: Bobby Carter, Godfrey Samuel and the Refugee Architects
15 November 6:00 pm
Valeria Carullo, Curator, The Robert Elwall Photographs Collection at RIBA British Architectural Library, will talk about her ongoing researches into the important role played by Bobby Carter and Godfrey Samuel of the RIBA Refugee Committee in rescuing their fellow architects from the clutches of the Nazi regime during the late 1930s.
Following the rise of Nazi Germany and the related tumultuous political events of the 1930s, the number of requests for admission to Britain from architects based in Central Europe rose sharply at the end of the decade. The conditions required to be considered for residence and job permits did not make their task easy: the country’s immigration laws at the time did not make any distinction based on the circumstances of emigration. Additionally, would-be émigrés needed either a Guarantor or proof to be self-supporting. The general feeling towards refugees was also influenced by a certain degree of antisemitism, and the fear that foreigners would compete for the same jobs in a period of economic depression.
In this difficult climate a number of figures in the British architectural establishment became points of reference for architects who were trying to leave their countries of origin: arguably more than anyone else, Edward ‘Bobby’ Carter, RIBA Librarian, and architect Godfrey Samuel tirelessly devoted time and effort to assist their Central European colleagues and help them find a future devoid of oppression and discrimination.
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Image: Left to right: Serge Chermayeff, Godfrey Samuel and Bobby Carter © RIBA Collections
Insiders/Outsiders was a year-long nationwide arts festival celebrating the indelible contribution of refugees from Nazi-dominated Europe to British culture. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two, the festival included exhibitions, concerts, dance and theatre performances, film screenings, walks, lectures and literary events.
A substantial companion volume to the festival is published by Lund Humphries.