Lucien Freud, a rather interesting artist, died yesterday, 21st July 2011. It made me think about the wealth and cultural legacy to the U.K. of the Jewish refugees who came to Britain, fleeing from Nazi Germany and Austria during the 1930’s. Lucien and his brother Clement Freud, both well known personalities on the national and international stage, were the grandsons of Sigmund Freud, who was one of the forerunners of the development of psychoanalytical thought. Sigmund was one of a fertile group of intellectuals forced to flee Vienna. His daughter, Anna Freud, continued her father’s work in Britain after he died.

More recently, Britain has greatly benefitted from the well educated and entrepreneurial adept Ugandan Asians who fled from the tyranny of Idi Amin.

The British do not realize what valuable assets we have gained in the process of immigration to these shores. It is not a popular thought for many, indeed I wonder if the majority of people even consider it, especially at times of financial constraint and impending austerity.



  1. Thank you Bushka. Putting ones head over the parapet on certain subjects does seem to invoke a massive silence, or very little contribution. There are times when other perspectives must be raised.

  2. I agree with your post we in England are so fortunate to have had so many talented people settle here apparently Lucien Freud was not only a great artist but also a very entertaining character as well as one artist model put it I remember his brother was quite a character too….

  3. We had a Ugandan Asian at school, often wonder how she got on. I remember they dropped her in our grade, the GCE stream but after one term she was relegated into the CSE stream.

  4. The point is not one to interest the media, conveniently. There is precious little discussion or mention of the net value, historically and currently, given by immigrants and refugees.

  5. Clement Freud had an incisive dry laconic wit. He was an M.P. and Rector of The University of Dundee (voted in twice) during the 1970’s and Rector of The University of St Andrews. He took up a campaign against the iniquitous student deposits swindle while ‘on duty’ at St A’s and helped some students with a tribunal, in which they succeeded with their claim.

    S-I-L worked with Sue Tilley, Lucien Freud’s muse for a long time and ‘the Benefits Supervisor Sleeping’ model. Sue Tilley was S-I-L’s Manager in the benefits office, obviously got promoted along the way. Lucien spent a lot of time closely observing whatever it was that was of interest to him at any given time.

    There are some present generation Freuds in dynamic positions. The Coren clan have continued apace as well. Alan Coren’s sister taught me for a short while in mainstream school in a manner which captivated me. I would not be at all surprised to hear some more Vas’ head along into something interesting.

  6. It’s a pity you’ll never know about her Mick. The children of refugee migrants, (others too) often take time to settle and to learn in new and different systems. She was at a disadvantage at that stage.

    I had a similar experience to yours with two girl cousins who fled with their families from Cairo with the uprising and when Nasser took power. The families had never lived in the UK though they held British passports. The kids had been to local schools, not international ones.

  7. I wonder whether some of this happens in this country, because of the very widespread assumption that ‘what is new, is best’. In other words, there’s no point in listening to boring old farts, because we, the younger generation, are much more savvy, much more up to date and much cooler, therefore better and the only ones worth listening to.

    This attitude means that there is a strong reaction against learning from the past, and applying those lessons to the present and the future.

    Just a thought, not a tried and tested opinion.

  8. I don’t think GillyK, your thoughts are unsung and unusual. I am sure I have heard similar, even in the media, a little bit shrouded but, nevertheless, there. More needs to be done to highlight what reaches out to young people today. Zephaniah might be a very good starting point.

    So much of our arts and political scene descends from immigrants, be they refugees or economic migrants. I was thinking the other day about Malorie Blackman’s book The Pig Heart Boy, Andrea Levy’s Book Small Island, (well worth reading), The Amadeus Quartet, (refugees) for a time enemy aliens and yesterday, I heard a piece on Horovitz who had the same experience. I had no idea he composed the music for the Rumpole series. I guess I could go on.

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