German Jewish Refugees as Enemy Aliens in the UK during World War II: Some Resources

A number of readers have asked questions about the internment of German Jews by England during World War II. It does seem so cruel to take people who had just escaped from Germany for being Jewish and imprison them for being German, but war does bring out the worst in human nature. In our own American history, there are many examples, including the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II for no reason other than their Japanese roots.

To answer some of the questions and to provide links to more information, I am providing a link back to a post I published almost four years ago when I first learned about the English internment of German Jews. I hope this post and the links it includes will answer some of those questions.  It only addresses the internment on the Isle of Man, only one of the many places where England sent “enemy aliens.”

In addition, for more information in general about the internment of enemy aliens, here are some other links:

Enemy Aliens scholarly article

This article was sent to me by another reader. It is a contemporary news report from The London Times of May 17, 1940.

There are many other articles and websites devoted to this topic, which is too large for me to do justice to on the blog. I hope this will help those who are interested find some of the answers to their questions.


Imprisoned on the Isle of Man

Some of my readers were disturbed, as was I, to learn that England imprisoned Jewish refugees in internment camps on the Isle of Man during World War II; one of those imprisoned was my cousin Ilse Gross, daughter of Karl Gross, as I wrote about here.

By one of those strange incidences of serendipity, someone on the JewishGen listserv and on one of my Facebook groups today posted a link to a recent story on the B’nai Brith International website about these camps.  It gives a much fuller picture of the history of the camps, what conditions were like, and why England did this.  It demonstrates how fear can lead us to do things that are fundamentally unfair and discriminatory, judging people by their race, religion, or national origin.

Here is one excerpt from the article.  You can find the rest here:

On May 27, 1940, Isle of Man residents gathered behind barricades at the docks, witnessing the arrival of the first 823 prisoners. Leaving the boat under armed guard, they included German Nazi sympathizers, mixed in with Jewish men in their 20s and 30s, as well as a few school boys, conspicuous in short pants. They would set the pattern for those coming in the next weeks and months, assigned to camps located in Ramsey, Douglas, Onchan and other seaside spots. Cleared of tourists, ordered to leave behind their sports equipment for the inmates, quaint Victorian rooming houses and private hotels were grouped together and ringed with barbed wire to form compounds. In some, Jews and Nazis shared the same spaces.

Additional information can be found at the following links: