WWII Internment camps in Britain

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“Collar the lot,” is what Churchill said about the citizens of enemy nations living in the UK, it didn’t matter if they were friend or foe,.

During the Second World War (1939 – 1945) a number of internment camps for civilians from enemy countries were established on the Isle of Man. These were based at Peveril Camp, Peel (on the west coast of the island) and Mooragh Camp, Ramsey (on the NE coast of the island). Some civilians lived in the pre-war guest houses at Douglas and other Manx towns. Prisoner of War camps were established at Base Camp, Douglas and one nearby at Onchan.

During the war, thousands of people were held in internment camps on the Isle of Man.

Some were political detainees or suspected spies, but many were innocent refugees who had nowhere else to go.

Throughout the UK citizens from Germany,Italy and Austria,including Jews who had escaped these countries from Nazi perscuion, were rounded up and transferred to the Isle of Man.

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At the outbreak of World War Two there were around 80,000 people in Britain who were considered potential “enemy aliens”.

It was feared there might be people acting as spies, or people willing to assist Britain’s enemies in the event of an invasion.The UK government asked the Isle of Man to accommodate people at camps in Douglas, Ramsey and Peel.

Political prisoners were detained in high security camps, but most internees – including many Jewish refugees – were free to go shopping, swim in the sea and attend classes.

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One of the internees was Rabbi Werner van der ZylRabbi_Werner_van_der_Zyl. a rabbi in Berlin and in London.He was a founder and President of Leo Baeck College, London; President of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain (now known as the Movement for Reform Judaism); and Life Vice President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.Van der Zyl came to Britain in 1939. During World War II the British Government interned him at Kitchener Camp in Sandwich, Kent and then at Mooragh Internment Camp  on the Isle of Manas an “enemy alien”. He was released from internment in 1943.

Fred Uhlman was born in Stuttgart, Germany, into a prosperous middle-class Jewish family. He studied at the Universities of Freiburg, Munich and Tübingen from where, in 1923, he graduated with a degree in Law followed by a Doctorate in Canon and Civil Law.uhlman

On 4 November 1936, he married Diana Croft, daughter of Henry Page Croft (later Lord Croft), against her parents’ strongest wishes, and they remained close and happy for nearly fifty years.

They set up home on Downshire Hill, in London’s Hampstead and it became a favourite cultural and artistic meeting place for the large group of refugees and exiles who, like Uhlman, had been forced to flee their homeland. He founded the Free German League of Culture, whose members included Oskar Kokoschka and Stefan Zweig, though he parted company with it when he felt it coming under communist domination.

Nine months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Uhlman, with thousands of other enemy aliens, was, in June 1940, interned by the British Government, in Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man.  He was released six months later and reunited with his wife and with his daughter, born while he was interned.

Photograph of internees in a yard at Hutchinson Internment Camp [c.1940-1] by Major H. O. Daniels

 

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Sources

BBC

The Telegraph

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Forgotten History-Japanese Canadian internment.

Like their southern neighbors, the USA, the Canadians also put their fellow japannotCanadians,albeit from Japanese descend, in intern camps. However it appears that history has forgotten this chapter. Unlike their Southern neighbors the Canadians kept restrictions  for their Japanese-Canadian citizens in place  for several years after the war.

I am not saying that I don’t understand the reasons why this was done, because I do. But that doesn’t mean that I condone it especially many of the Japanese were born in Canada and  some of the interned Japanese Canadians were combat veterans of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, including several men who had been decorated for bravery on the Western Front. Despite the first iterations of veterans affairs associations established during World War II, fear and racism drove policy and trumped veterans’ rights, meaning that virtually no Japanese-Canadian veterans were exempt from being removed from the BC coast

Not until 1949, four years after Japan had surrendered, were the majority of Nikkei allowed to return to British Columbia. By then most had chosen to begin life anew elsewhere in Canada. Their property had long before been confiscated and sold at a fraction of its worth.

When the Pacific War began, discrimination against Japanese Canadians increased. Following the  Japanese invasion of Hong Kong and Malaya and the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Japanese Canadians were categorized as enemy aliens under the War Measures Act, which began to remove their personal rights. Starting on December 8, 1941, 1,200 Japanese-Canadian-owned fishing vessels were impounded as a “defence” measure.

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Beginning in early 1942, the Canadian government detained and dispossessed the vast majority of people of Japanese descent living in British Columbia. They were interned for the rest of the Second World War, during which time their homes and businesses were sold by the government in order to pay for their detention.

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The order in 1942, to leave the “restricted area” and move 100 miles (160km) inland from the west coast was made under the authority of the War Measures Act and affected over 21,000 Japanese Canadians. Most were first held in the livestock barns in Hastings Park (Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition grounds) and then moved to hastily built camps in the BC interior. At first, many men were separated from their families and sent to road camps in Ontario and on the BC/Alberta border. Small towns in the BC interior such as Greenwood, Sandon, New Denver and Slocan became internment quarters mainly for women, children and the aged. To stay together, some families agreed to work on sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba where there were labour shortages. Those who resisted and challenged the orders of the Canadian government were rounded up by the RCMP and incarcerated in a barbed-wire prisoner-of-war camp in Angler, Ontario.

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On 24 February 1942, the federal Cabinet of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King issued Order-in-Council P.C. 1486w200.10691 to remove and detain “any and all persons” from any “protective area” in the country. While those powers were broad enough to detain any person, they were specifically used to target Japanese Canadians along the West Coast. The following week, the British Columbia Security Commission, the organization that carried out Japanese internment, was established. On 16 March, the first Japanese Canadians were transported from areas 160 km inland from the Pacific coast — deemed a “protected area” — and brought to Hastings Park. More than 8,000 detainees moved through Hastings Parks, where women and children were housed in the Livestock Building. All property that could not be carried was taken into government custody.

Special trains then carried the Japanese detainees to Slocan, New Denver, Kaslo, Greenwood and Sandon — ghost towns in the BC interior. Others were offered the option of working on sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba ,where they would be able to keep their families intact. Though the camps were not surrounded with barbed wire fences, as they were in the United States, conditions were overcrowded and poor, with no electricity or running water.

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Those who resisted their internment were sent to prisoner of war camps in Petawawa, Ontario, or to Camp 101 on the northern shore of Lake Superior.

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In a further betrayal, an order-in-council signed 19 January 1943 liquidated all Japanese property that had been under the government’s “protective custody.” Homes, farms, businesses and personal property were sold, and the proceeds used to pay down the social assistance received by detained Japanese Canadians.

Anti-Japanese racism was not confined to British Columbia, but was spread across Canada. Though acutely in need of labour, Albertans did not want Japanese Canadians in their midst. Alberta sugar beet farmers crowded Japanese labourers into tiny shacks, un-insulated granaries and chicken coops, and paid them a pittance for their hard labour.

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Japanese-Canadian women and children faced a specific set of challenges that greatly affected their way of life and broke down the social and cultural norms that had developed. Whole families were taken from their homes and separated from each other. Husbands and wives were almost always separated when sent to camps and, less commonly, some mothers were separated from their children as well. Japanese-Canadian families typically had a patriarchal structure, meaning the husband was the centre of the family. Since husbands were often separated from their families, wives were left to reconfigure the structure of the family and the long established divisions of labour that were so common in the Japanese-Canadian household

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In 1946, nearly 4,000 former internees sailed to a bombed-out Japan. About 2,000 were aging first-generation immigrants — 1,300 were children under 16 years of age. The last controls on Japanese Canadians were not lifted until 1949, when they were granted the right to vote. Finally, Canadian society began to open to the Japanese.

On April 1, 1949, four years after the war was over, all the restrictions were lifted and Japanese Canadians were given full citizenship rights, including  the right to return to the west coast. But there was no home to return to. The Japanese Canadian community in British Columbia was virtually destroyed.

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Inside Manzanar concentration camp.

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The attack on Pearl Harbor fueled mass paranoia in the United States, paranoia that led to the development of domestic concentration camps not long before the U.S. would take part in liberating similar camps abroad.

Over the course of just a few years, the U.S. federal government forced 120,000 people of Japanese descent into these camps in an attempt to quarantine and surveil them — and it took decades before these victims saw any form of redress.

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In early 1942, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that legalized the creation and use of these camps.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/02/01/executive-order-9066/

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Evacuation orders were subsequently distributed to people along the West Coast, often giving Japanese-American families less than a week to gather their things, leave their homes, and be forcibly relocated. With no information on where they were going or how long they would be away, people were forced to sell or abandon their homes and businesses.

 

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Preschoolers  children on the way to their barrack homes from morning class.

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Barracks under construction at Poston. Barrack construction and materials were the same at all ten camps, including Manzanar. Poston, Arizona May 5, 1942

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Typical interior scene in a Manzanar barrack apartment. Note the cloth partition separating one apartment from another, lending a small amount of privacy. June 30, 1942

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Bunk space at Manzanar.

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A camp mess hall.

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Members of the Mochida family awaiting evacuation bus. Identification tags are used to aid in keeping the family unit intact during all phases of evacuation. Mochida operated a nursery and five greenhouses on a two-acre site in Eden Township. He raised snapdragons and sweet peas. They may have been deported to another camp, but what is striking her is that they were tagged.

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Replica of an historic watch tower at the Manzanar National Historic Site, built in 2005. Eight watchtowers, equipped with searchlights and machine guns pointed inward at the incarcerees, were positioned around the perimeter of the camp. April 27, 2007

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