Refugee Internment

Isle of Man Camps:

Mainland British Camps:

Security concerns regarding suspected fascist spies or sympathisers, and distrust of political activists such as communist aliens in Britain before/during World War II, resulted in various government internment policies. Implementation began in October 1939, following a review of German and Austrian nationals, but was mainly carried out in spring/summer 1940. With public support, however, most internees were released between May–July 1941, except known Nazis. Many Italians were also interned when Italy sided with Germany 1940–1943).


Aliens were moved from coastal areas, and deemed either ‘enemy’ or ‘friendly’ aliens. The former primarily comprised Germans, Austrians and some Czechoslovaks. Tribunals classed over 70,000 aliens in 3 categories according to their perceived security risk: A. to be interned; B. not to be interned, but subject to restricted movement; C. No restrictions imposed.


The internment experiences recounted by interviewees differ widely, largely depending on the duration and location of their internment, and particularly whether in Britain or overseas.



Internment locations included racecourse stables, disused mills, holiday chalets and prisons. The Isle of Man, however, was the key location, holding thousands of internees, and was especially worrying for aliens registered as a ‘Refugee from Nazi oppression on racial grounds’, should Germany invade Britain.


@ AJR Refugee Voices 2020

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