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What is restored to the picture by delving into the Tavistock archive?

What is restored to the picture by delving into the Tavistock archive?

Lunchtime Talk: Alice White, 13 April.

Thousands of people, many of whom had been living in camps for years, were attempting to settle back in to peaceful, productive, democratic society. What was the best way to facilitate this?
This situation might refer to the refugee crisis we are confronted with today, but it also describes the situation faced by Britain in 1944, as POWs began to be repatriated. The Tavistock group had raised concerns about returning POWs at the beginning of the war years before, but it was only by November 1944 that a pilot unit was created to officially investigate the potential problems of resettlement. After this slow start, work progressed at a rapid pace: by the end of March 1947, more than 19,000 European POWs and around 4,500 Far-East POWs had attended the Civil Resettlement Units (CRUs) that the Tavistock group and the British Army created to aid with repatriation and get men ‘back to Civvy Street.’ Despite the huge scale of this work, it is little-known today and many notable works on Second World War British POWs completely omit any mention of psychological involvement in resettlement.
This seminar’s focus is on what the Tavistock archive restores to our picture of resettlement by providing insight into the people, processes, challenges and opportunities behind the CRUs.
Alice White is an AHRC funded PhD student at the Centre for the History of the Sciences at the University of Kent. She studies the history of management science human relations during the Second World War and in post-war Britain, with an aim to understand how social and cultural factors influenced the creation of a ‘science of management.

Tavistock Institute

June 27, 2016

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  1. What is restored to the picture by delving into the

    Tavistock archive? Alice White University of Kent [email protected] @HistorianAlice
  2. Civil Resettlement Units (CRUs) • What was the context? •

    What happened? How were the CRUs created? • What difference does access to the Tavistock archive make?
  3. Context: Back to Civvy Street The Tavistock staff were interested

    in POWs from 1940: • They repeatedly drew attention to the situation which would arise with the return of over 100,000 men from Germany… and urged that this question be given careful and sympathetic consideration by the appropriate authorities. Ahrenfeldt, p.226
  4. The Creation of the CRUs In March 1945, the War

    Office agreed to proceed with the creation of 20 CRUs. Wellcome Trust, RAMC/801/22/42/46
  5. What does the Tavi archive reveal? • Surprisingly basic information

    not easily found in other places • How much work went into creating the CRUs (and how much of this was flying-by-seat-of-pants planning!) • The involvement of many invisible actors • Links to WOSBs & Northfield (learning from mistakes…) • The crucial role of communication & the exchange of ideas.
  6. The Big Battle: Bion vs. Wilson Bion, No. 21 WOSB,

    Selsdon Court, Surrey Wilson, No. 1 RAMC Barracks, Crookham Wilson, No. 10 Special Reception & Training Unit, Derby, November 1944
  7. Communication & the CRUs Box 37765502, Papers, Talks, Contributions on

    PsOW, Displacement, etc., 1945 & 1946 Yorkshire & Leeds Mercury, 1945