Is he or isn't he?

By East End Walks
February 16, 2009

It's one of those conversations that invariably goes on in front of the television.
"He is isn't he?"
"I don't know."
"I've always thought he was."
"He doesn't look it."
"Maybe he's German?"

...and maybe I was right. We were watching the first few minutes of Rick Stein on that excellent series "Who Do You Think You Are?"

Not only were his family German but they also suffered for the fact at the time of World War one. In various places including the East End there were anti-german riots and many people who had leaved peaceably in Britain for many years were bizarrely interned as "Enemy aliens".

At which point my mind drifted to Rudolf Rocker - the leader of the Jewish anarchists in the East End at the turn of the 20th century - thought Rocker himself was brought up in a Catholic orphanage in Germany. Exiled from Germany and later France,he found asylum in Britain, spent his days and nights learning Yiddish to organise among the Jewish immigrant workers, led strikes, spoke at meeting, wrote pamphlets...and found himself locked up as an enemy alien - deemed as representative of the country that had kicked him out. The other interesting thing about Rocker was...

(You'll have to come on one of my walks to find that out - should be one soon - check:


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