German Jews incarcerated in England/Scotland during WW2 #holocaust #germany

Jake Jacobs

Looking for information about German-born Jews who were locked up in some kind of interrment camps in Great Britain early in WW2.  I've found cursory information online from Bnei Brith and wikipedia, but would like to know more. Would appreciate any information. Thank you!

Diane Jacobs
Austin, Texas

Jan Meisels Allen

Diane Jacobs said she was looking for information about German-born Jews who were locked up in some kind of internment camps in Great Britain early in WW2.   I would look at this site:  The Isle of Mann Museum.  In the inquiry box I put in World War ll and came up with  21925 results for World War ll

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

rv Kaplan

The Scottish Holocaust-era Study Centre at the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre also has information
about many Jewish refugees who came to Scotland at that time and about experiences of
internment in the Isle of Man and elsewhere.
Harvey Kaplan
Scottish Jewish Archives Centre

Lewis, Megan

Hi Jake,

A good place to start is Rachel Pistol's book Internment during the Second World War : a comparative study of Great Britain and the USA (2017.)  

The Association of Jewish Refugees' oral history project 'Refugee Voices' has an entire section of refugees who were interned:

You can search the USHMM Collections Search catalog,, for more materials about internment in the UK.

Megan Lewis, reference librarian
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Jill Whitehead

My Brown (Brin) family of Edinburgh looked after the Hirsch children from Dessau (Gerhard and Madeline) who escaped on the Kindertransport from Berlin in 1939, where they had been at boarding school.

Many German Kindertransport children went to live at a farm school near Edinburgh called Whittinghame,  as outlined in "The Forgotten Kindertransportees, the Scottish Experience" by Frances Williams published in 2014 by Bloomsbury Books (I understand this was her Phd thesis). 

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK


The story in my family was that my uncle (Erich Fritz Hein) was interned in the UK at first, but was then sent to Canada (specifically Prince Edward Island) for the duration.  I've never been able to confirm that there was actually a camp for German internees in PEI, although I know there were camps in Ontario and Quebec.  And I have lived my entire life in Canada.

My father (Georg Franz Hein), on the other hand, at the outbreak of hostilities (Sept 3/39) committed identity theft, taking the name of a dead London classmate (Peter Stevens), and enlisted in the Royal Air Force.  He would become the only German-Jewish bomber pilot in the RAF, flying 22 combat missions in 1941 before his plane was hit by flak over Berlin and he force-landed (out of fuel) in a farmer's field near Amsterdam.  So began 3 years and 8 months of captivity in his own country, without any protection whatsoever under the Geneva Convention.  Had the Nazis ever discovered his true identity, the consequences would have been unpleasantly fatal.  Dad went on to make 9 escape attempts as a POW, became Head of Contacts (i.e. scrounging) for the "X" Escape Organization in Stalag Luft 3 East Compound, and was one of only 69 members of the RAF to be awarded Britain's Military Cross for gallantry in the face of the enemy on the ground.  Mentioned in over 20 books, including the biography I wrote.

Marc Stevens

Irv Salit

Many of the Jews who made it to the UK in WW2 were treated as enemy aliens. They often were incarcerated with Nazis. They were abused and refused citizenship even if they fought in the British forces. Some were sent to Australia under horrible circumstances. They suffered horribly and some were murdered. Read "X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II.".These were great heroes but were also mistreated.

Irv Salit

Ilan Ganot

Hello Diane, 
My uncle, Dr. Hermann Seltzer, his wife and their two small kids, were arrested and forced to stay in British internment camps in India along WW2.
Dr. Seltzer wrote some essays about it, available for online review at the Leo Baeck archives website.
Ilan Ganot 


Anita Desai's novel Baumgartner's Bombay concerns a situation like that of Dr. Seltzer and his family, a story that she learned from her German mother.
Carol Sicherman

Bernard Flam

Hi from Paris,
May I add that same situation occurred in France.
As soon as UK & France declared state of war on September 3rd, German and Austrian citizens were considered as citizens of a foe.
They had to registered and were interned in various camps across country.
Phony war lasted till May 1940 with start of Blitzkrieg and France's invasion.
So from September 1939 to May 1940, these camps were ruled by French Republic and were only administrative detention camps with light discipline (direct testimonies of my family's men).
Jews had quickly opportunity to enroll French Foreign Legion or groups of foreign workers (if too old).
As they were German or Austrian (as my Galizianer GF & GU), most of them were sent to Algeria (a French department at the time) in order not to be in situation to fight against German Wehrmacht. 
And most of them were discharged from service without any fight during summer 1940 in non occupied southern part of France.
Last but not the least : among non Jewish German and Austrian internees, a lot were Nazi's opponents who were in France since 1933 or 1938.
Republic government denied to free them in June 1940 just before defeat.
After armistice, Petain agreed to let nazi teams visit camps, in occupied (northern) and in non occupied (southern) zones : these teams sorted opponents and abducted them to Germany. You can imagine their fate.
Bernard Flam
Archives & history of Medem Center - Arbeter Ring of France (Bund, Skif, Worker's Circle)

Alan Cohen

It was not all 'doom and gloom'. Read for a more enlightened account. 
The 'university' in Hutchinson camp enabled many people to learn a new profession.
Alan Cohen


Eva Lawrence

My father was interned in the Isle of Man in 1940, as were almost all German and Italian men of military age, after a German U-boat had sunk a British ship with an enormous loss of life, and public opinion hardened. He was only released after my mother had obtained a visa for emigration to a South American country.  We didn't take it up, and he found work instead, since conscription left vacancies which people like him could fill. . Many German refugees found such niches and made a success of their lives - see Dr Anna Nyburg's recent book 'The clothes on our backs' about refugees' innovations in the clothing industry

Eva Lawrence

St Albans,UK.


Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.

Evelyn and Christopher Wilcock

The UK Government kept a card index for Enemy Aliens in 1939-1940. You can search and read these cards free of charge on the computers at the National Archive in Kew but they are also available on line through the subscription service Find My Past.

You will need to subscribe to Find My Past to read some UK government records, just as one has to subscribe to to see many of the USA government records.

Many of the Enemy Alien cards  show the date of detention  and of eventual release or deportation.

Anyone resident in UK in September 1939 is likely also to be listed on the 1939 Register. Bear in mind when searching on line data bases that some German Jews might be listed on the Gwermany Nazi census of May 1939, and again on the UK September 1939 Register,  if, in the interim, they had  emigrated to UK.
Evelyn Wilcock

Michael Hoffman

A good place to look for WWII German Jewish Refugees is on the website of
the Kitchener Camp, Richborough Transit Camp, Sandwich, Kent at 
I used this website to find information for a friend who lives in Sydney, Australia.

Michael Hoffman


UK residents will no doubt be aware that public libraries [at least in England] will normally subscribe to Find My Past, so that if folk can find a free computer there, they should be able to log into that website/database, and, I think, should be able to forward downloaded stuff to their own email address. And if folk are anywhere  near the Public Records Office complex near Kew Gardens in West London, then access to Find My Past and a whole load of other data will be free.
Michael A Hutchinson
Gloucestershire, UK

Jill Whitehead

It is not only German Jews, but those who were born in the old Austro Hungarian Empire that became part of Nazi Germany, who escaped to UK and were treated as enemy aliens.  The Dukes family lived in my house for 46 years  and they escaped from Vienna in 1939, where they had lived since 1911. The parents came from respectively what is now Slovakia  (near Bratislava) and Hungary (near Budapest). Their daughter had been born in Vienna in 1912 (as had a son born in 1916 but who died in Crystallnacht), and she lived until 1983. The Dukes father was interned briefly for 6 months somewhere in the London area. 

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK

Robert Weinberg <weinberg@...>

Mr. Salit's note is hard to reconcile with my grandfather's experience as an internee on the Isle of Man. These were the best 6 months of his life, as he lived in a former resort hotel.  The notion that the Jews were murdered and mistreated by the Brits, as Mr. Salit writes, is simply untrue, as I know from the accounts of others, including cousins who enlisted in the British army.  Bob Weinberg, Brookline MA

ronald Wallace

Had it not been for the internment that took place I would not be here. My Father who had already started his own business in a government provided factory in the North East of England, was put into an internment camp while he awaited his naturalization papers. He was there only for a few months, but during that time he met a fellow internee who was a close friend of my Grandfather and who, after release from the camp, introduced my Father to my Mother and the rest is history.

Nothing I have heard about the camps was anything more than an inconvenience while the internees awaited their papers or other documents and they were well treated.


Ronald Wallace

Apollo Beach, FL


Eva Lawrence

I found the alien registration cards and the 1939 Register on, since at the time I didn't subscribe to FindMyPast.   Anyone with a world-wide subscription to Ancestry  or, of course the UK version, should look for the register in the card catalogue (which is about to disappear). However, one must realise that minors, who might still be alive, were supposed to be blacked out on the Register, so only guesswork based on the adults in their lives will locate them. 
-Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.