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Writing was a major occupation in Camp. Refugees spent countless hours composing diaries, letters, petitions and appeals. The internees were desperate to contact their loved ones, many still left to an uncertain fate in Europe. They pleaded with government and wrote to anyone who might be able to secure their release.

Camp newspapers reflected the pathos and ironies of camp life. Internees published editorials, sports columns and music reviews in both English and German. Writers reported war news and circulated poetry, essays and short stories. Some wrote of the daily aggravations of camp life and the conflicts between camp personalities. Others recorded accounts of their escapes from Europe. Interspersed with serious essays about politics and the status of refugees were outbursts of humour, including a letter to movie star Ginger Rogers inviting her to visit her six hundred admirers in Camp N.

Henry Kreisel, a budding writer, kept a diary that reflected the frustrations of internment. In July 1941, when some of the refugees decided to return to freedom in Britain despite the danger of the Atlantic crossing, Kreisel wrote: “Everyone longs to be on this list, everybody is sick of internment. We want freedom, even if there are bombs in England and none here. Internment bears heavy on my nerves, the barbed wire seems almost choking me. Freedom, freedom.”

A dossier of images about writing. Dossier

A collection of images relating to writing.

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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