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Second World War Internment in the UK – September 1939 to July 1940

23 September 2021 6:00 pm

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Before war was formally declared, British intelligence was already gathering lists of potentially dangerous ‘enemy aliens’ who held German or Austrian citizenship. Small numbers of arrests were made in the days before Britain declared war against Germany, and these arrests continued as Germans and Austrians living in the UK went before tribunals, but only for those categorised as A (the other two categories being B – subject to restrictions but remaining at liberty and C – genuine refugees from Nazi oppression).

It was not until May 1940, when Britain was at very real risk of invasion, that internment policy drastically changed. The East and South Coasts were declared to be ‘protected areas’, and foreign nationals living in those areas arrested and interned. Soon afterwards, all Category Bs were rounded up, whether male or female, with some children included. In June and July, men who were Category C were also arrested.

This talk by historian Rachel Pistol, author of Internment During the Second World War: A Comparative Study of Great Britain and the USA (2017) and co-editor of British Internment and the Internment of Britons: Second World War Camps, History and Heritage (forthcoming, with Bloomsbury), will examine the first nine months of internment, from the earliest camps on the UK mainland to the establishment of semi-permanent camps on the Isle of Man, including the controversial transport abroad scheme that sent five ships to Canada and Australia, only four of which arrived at their planned destinations.

This event is held in partnership with Jewish Renaissance magazine.

To book, click here.

Image: Warth Mills, situated in the Redvales area of Bury on the River Irwell, pictured in the late 1800s. The Warth Mills Project


23 September 2021
6:00 pm
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