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Escaping the Nazis for life as a maid

As the Nazis tightened their grip on power in the late 1930s, Jews in Germany and Austria began to fear for their safety.

Many fled abroad using well-documented methods such as the Kindertransport. But less well known is the story of thousands of Jewish women who fled to the UK by getting jobs as domestic servants.

The holder of a domestic service visa had a priceless ticket to get out of the clutches of the Nazis - even if it did mean that many middle class women, who may even have had servants in their own households, were cooking, cleaning, making beds and scrubbing floors for the first time in their lives.

Natalie Huss-Smickler and Edith Argy were among an estimated 20,000 people, mostly women, to take advantage of the domestic service visas being issued by the British government at that time.

  • 07 Mar 2012
  • From the section UK
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