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Political activity was an outlet for tension in the internment camps, when it did not create it. There was a united struggle by internees to secure decent living conditions and release. In the eyes of internees like Edgar Strauss, internment was an “enormous waste of good will and…manpower and a waste of everything.”

Through democratically elected spokesmen, the refugees presented memoranda, petitions and appeals to the administration and outside organizations. When camp conditions became intolerable, they resorted to strikes, disobedience and general insubordination. Internal disputes were resolved through their own tribunals. Those involved in petty squabbling, arguments and fistfights wound up in front of the elected officers.

Communists, including Spanish Civil War veterans and International Seamen, politicized among youngsters who exhibited an interest. There was some amusement among the communists when about fifteen of them emerged from a meeting with their camp commandant, informed that they were to be released in Canada – as yeshiva students.

Among the true yeshiva students, and among the Jews in general, an ideological split occurred between Zionists and non-Zionists. They monitored the situation in Palestine and argued the merits of creating a Jewish state. In Camp N, refugees mounted a large campaign for the Canadian Zionist Organization, using the slogan “One day’s pay for Palestine.”

A dossier of images about politics. Dossier

A collection of images relating to politics.

Camp Boys
in the classroom


Camp Boys
Through internee testimony, students learn about the conditions of internment in Canada, and explore a variety of primary sources relating to the responses of the “camp boys” to internment.


Internment in Canada


Map: Canadian Internment Camps (77Kb PDF)


Internment in Canada

Complete Teachers’ Guide to Enemy Aliens
PDF 7.8 MB

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