http://web.archive.org/web/201909150318 ... gees-wwii/Untold Story of British WWII Concentration Camps for Jewish Refugees
The gruesome and shameful history of British concentration camps for Jewish refugees in Palestine during the Second World War still remains largely unspoken.
When one refers to the issue of Jewish concentration camps, the dark history of the Nazi Holocaust aimed against European Jews usually comes to mind; however, it was not only fascist regimes who detained Jews in the 1930s-1940s.
Remarkably, the story of British concentration camps for Jewish refugees still remains largely untold.
"Today, when Europe is shutting its borders in the face of the huge flow of Arab refugees from Syria and Iraq, it is worth mentioning that Britain, now lecturing others on moral values, in 1939-1948 captured and detained, in its own concentration camps, thousands of Jewish refugees who escaped doom in Nazi death camps," Russian-Israeli travel blogger Alexander Lapshin wrote on his Facebook page.
In the 1930s European Jews were not welcomed anymore in Nazi-controlled Germany. The Jewish community was stigmatized, and anti-Semitism was on the rise. In the face of increasing repression many Jews fled Germany. Needless to say, the nationwide Kristallnacht ("Night of Crystal") in Germany in November 1938 facilitated a sharp increase in Jewish emigration.
But where could they go? It was a time when Palestine was seen by many as the only light at the end of the tunnel.
However, in the 1930s Palestine, then Mandatory Palestine, was a geopolitical entity ruled by the British administration.
Incredible as it may seem today, London immediately restricted the number of Jews who could flee to the Palestinian Mandate to only 15,000 per year.
London was clearly not a Nazi sympathizer, but the truth of the matter was that the British government wanted to preserve the established balance of power in its mandated territory in the Middle East. In turn, London put its geopolitical interests above the interests of destitute European Jewish refugees.
From 1939 in response to the high influx of Jewish asylum seekers, the British government organized a network of detainee camps for Jews, labeled by the British administration in Palestine as "illegal immigrants."
In the beginning of the Second World War those who avoided detention in Nazi death camps — Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau — were arrested and thrown in quickly erected British concentration facilities in the Palestinian Mandate, Cyprus, and Mauritius.
The grim irony of the situation was that the British concentration camps looked strikingly similar to those established by Nazi Germany in Europe.
Tens of thousands of desperate Jewish asylum seekers were captured by the British on the shores of Palestine and placed into detainee camps.
One of them, the Atlit camp, located 12 miles south of Haifa, is still standing as a silent reminder of these shameful historical events. From 1939 to 1948 more than 70,000 Jews had gone through this camp, a terrible place surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers. Unfortunately, many died there due to the deplorable living conditions. Embarrassingly, there were many Holocaust survivors among those arrested by the British administration in Palestine.
When new inmates arrived at Atlit, they were stripped naked and sprayed with DDT. It was the same humiliating procedure many of them had already faced in Nazi camps and ghettoes.
What is even more shocking, the British concentration camps were still functioning when the Red Army liberated European Jews from the Nazis. Britain continued to capture Jewish "illegal immigrants" preventing them from entering the Palestinian Mandate until the late 1940s.
The Atlit camp was eventually closed after being attacked by Israeli guerrillas in 1945. Among them was young Yitzhak Rabin, future Israeli politician, statesman and general.
On May 14, 1948, head of the Jewish Agency David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel.
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An article from "The Jewish Chronicle" of 15 January 2016 states that directly after WWII there were Scottish concentration camps with "armed guards in watch-towers" that subjected their prisoners to "beatings, torture, starvation and even shootings." One Jewish concentration camp prisoner, Edward Jakubowsky, "was shot dead by a guard for insolence." But don't worry, it wasn't a "Holocaust" but rather "an unfortunate necessity in wartime."
Source: https://archive.fo/ibM2I | https://www.thejc.com/life-inside-the-c ... nd-1.57427Life inside the concentration camps of Scotland
How the papers broke the story of camp conditions
After the end of the Second World War, when the horrors of concentration camps such as Dachau and Belsen became known, it was commonly claimed of the German people that, "They must have known." How could concentration camps be operating on the edge of villages and towns without those living nearby being aware of what was happening in such places? The situation in Germany was mirrored precisely in another European country at that time.
Between 1940 and 1946, a number of concentration camps were set up on the edge of large towns; some only a few miles from major cities. Local farmers heard rumours about atrocities being committed in these places, but when they approached the barbed wire fences, they were warned off by armed guards in watch-towers. Stories circulated about beatings, torture, starvation and even shootings, but so secretive were those running the camps that no solid information ever leaked out. It was also suggested that these sinister locations were being used to hold communists, Jews and homosexuals; although this was never admitted by anybody in authority. All this was happening not in Germany or Poland at the height of the Holocaust, but in the south of Scotland.
In 1940 thousands of Polish soldiers came to Britain following the fall of France. They were led by the autocratic General Wladyslaw Sikorski. In exchange for defending the east coast of Scotland against German invasion, the Polish forces were granted the right to set up their own bases in Britain, which were to be regarded as Polish sovereign territory; immune from interference by the authorities of this country.
General Sikorski took the opportunity to establish a detention facility near Rothesay on the Isle of Bute for both his political opponents and anybody else he felt like imprisoning. To the members of the Polish Government in Exile, Sikorski made no secret of his intentions, announcing at a meeting of the Polish National Council in London on July 18 1940, "There is no Polish judiciary. Those who conspire will be sent to a concentration camp." Shortly afterwards, a secret order was issued to General Marian Kukiel; Commander of Camps and Polish Army Units in Scotland. This related to what was described as an "unallocated grouping of officers" who were to be held in a special camp.
On the Isle of Bute were both political prisoners and also what the Poles called "pathological cases". These were drunks, homosexuals and others of whom Sikorski and his associates disapproved. There were also a number of Jews. A second camp was established at the village of Tighnabruich on the Scottish mainland.
One of the things which soon became apparent was that Jews were particularly likely to fall foul of General Sikorski's Government in Exile and end up in the two camps in Scotland. One of the most famous prisoners on the Isle of Bute was the writer, journalist and biographer of Stalin; Isaac Deutscher. Although born in Poland, Deutscher, a Jew, had emigrated to Britain where he made a life for himself before the outbreak of war in 1939. In 1940, following Dunkirk and the Fall of France, he travelled to Scotland to volunteer for the Polish army which was now based there. No sooner had he joined up, than Deutscher found himself interned at the camp at Rothesay. Being both a Jew and also a communist, he was regarded as a dangerous subversive by senior figures in General Sikorski's administration.
Rumours began to circulate among MPs in London that something unsavoury was going on in Scotland. Names began to emerge of Polish citizens being held for no apparent reason in secret installations. In all cases, the men being detained seemed to be Jews. On February 19 1941, for example, Samuel Silverman, MP for Nelson and Colne, raised the question in the House of Commons of two Jewish brothers called Benjamin and Jack Ajzenberg. These men had been picked up by Polish soldiers in London and taken to a camp in Scotland. The following year, Adam McKinley, MP for Dumbartonshire in Scotland, asked in the House what was happening on the Isle of Bute. The government, which had no wish to upset a valuable ally, refused to provide any information. Under the terms of the Allied Forces Act, the British had in any case no legal right to interfere in what was happening at camps and army bases being operated by the Polish Government in Exile.
Other camps were opened at Kingledoors and later Auchterarder. These were forbidding places; surrounded by barbed wire and with watchtowers. At Kingledoors, a Jewish prisoner called Edward Jakubowsky was shot dead by a guard for insolence. The British police were not informed of this and no action was taken.
One of the things which is seldom realised is the extent to which the Polish army based in Britain was largely made up of men who had previously served in the Wermacht. Whenever Poles who had been serving with the German army were captured by the British, they were handed over to the Polish authorities in London, who promptly enlisted them in their own forces. This meant that by 1945, over half the men in the Polish army had previously served with the Germans. There was already a tradition of antisemitism in the Polish armed forces and the addition of so many men who had been in the Nazi forces did nothing to reduce this antisemitism. Attention was drawn to this situation on April 16 1944, when the MP for Doncaster, Evelyn Walkden, asked if members of the House of Commons were aware that "the Polish Army Command made it a condition that the Entertainments National Service Association should not send a single concert party to the Polish army which included a Jewish artist, and that they insist upon that condition? Has that condition been repudiated or annulled?"
That the Polish Government in Exile had got into the habit of sending their Jewish citizens to the camps in Scotland was shown shortly after the end of the war in Europe. By this time, more camps had been opened; including one at Inverkeithing, only eight miles from Edinburgh. This only came to light via an announcement by Moscow radio on June 14 1945: "The Polish Fascist concentration camp system...was preserved when the Poles fled from Poland. They found a cosy shelter at Inverkeithing, where in the midst of British rules and customs, and surrounded by barbed wire, lies a patch of Fascist Poland. Patriots refusing to serve under the clique headed by Arecisewski, also democratically minded Poles and members of the Polish Workers Party are being ruthlessly treated or killed when attempting to escape."
It transpired that a Jewish academic called Dr Jan Jagodzinski had been arrested in London and taken by Polish military police to Scotland, where he was being held in the camp at Inverkeithing. Jagodzinski was not only a Jew, but also a communist. The Polish Government in Exile had realised by this time that the communists were in control in Warsaw and that they themselves were likely to be remaining in exile for the foreseeable future. They accordingly tried to detain Poles in Britain who showed any inclination to return to their own country.
The cat was now out of the bag, because on the same day that Moscow told the world of the existence of the camp near Edinburgh, Robert McIntyre, the MP for the Scottish constituency of Motherwell, stood up in the Commons and asked the following question:
"Will the government make provision for the inspection, at any time, by representatives of the various districts of Scotland of any penal settlements, concentration camps, detention barracks, prisons, etc. within their area, whether these institutions are under the control of the British, American, French or Polish governments or any other authority; and for the issuing of a public report by those representatives?
Hearing mention being made in Parliament of concentration camps in Scotland caused the press to take notice and various reporters were eventually allowed to visit Inverkeithing. This was something of a disaster for the Polish authorities, because the first prisoner to whom the journalists spoke turned out to be yet another Jew, by the name of Josef Dobosiewicz. This 23-year-old had been a soldier in the Canadian army. He alleged that prisoners were chained up in cells; a statement which the commandant of the camp admitted. It also emerged that two weeks earlier, a prisoner at the camp had been shot dead. Under the Allied Forces Act, the local police had no authority to investigate the death.
It is not known when the camps in Scotland closed down. A year after the end of the war, Jews were still being held there. On April 16, 1946, William Gallacher, the MP for Fife West, rose in the Commons to ask the Secretary of State for War:
"If he is aware that two Polish Jewish soldiers, David Glicenstein and Shimon Getreuthendler, have been sentenced by Polish court martial to terms of imprisonment; if he will enquire into these cases which represent victimisation of two Jewish soldiers who were among those who left the Polish army owing to antisemitic conditions in 1944; if he is aware that they were charged with being absent from their units at a time after the amnesty had been issued on 25 June 1945; and if he will cause the sentences to be rescinded so that these Polish Jewish soldiers can return to their own country as they wish to do."
It is hard, over 70 years later, to say just what was going on in Scotland during the Second World War. General Sikorski was quite open about his intention to set up concentration camps in this country and there is no doubt that he did so in Scotland. It is also an undeniable fact that every person mentioned either in Parliament or newspaper reports who was held in such places happened to be Jewish. Nor is it disputed that deaths took place in the camps and that conditions were pretty grim.
In fairness to the Poles, they claimed that these places were similar to British military prisons and that they were an unfortunate necessity in wartime. Ultimately, the only safe verdict to deliver on some of the more extreme stories emerging from those times is the old Scottish one of "Not Proven". Enormous suspicion attaches itself to the actions of the Polish army in Britain when it came to the detention of their fellow countrymen, but it is not possible to say with any degree of certainty that all the sites at which we have looked were really concentration camps, in the sense that the expression is commonly used. We will perhaps have to wait for more evidence to emerge, before we can say for sure what was going on at such places as Inverkeithing and Shinafoot.
According to a 2016 book by Simon Webb, during the Boer War (Oct 1899 – May 1902) the British concentration camps caused the deaths of tens of thousands of children from starvation and disease. More recently, slave laborers confined to a nationwide network of camps played an integral part in the prosperity of Britain after the war according to Webb. The book claims that a quarter of the country's agricultural workforce was jailed in labor camps in 1947. Not only did the British government make concentration camps, but they also gave instructions to other countries to set up similar establishments in the UK. During and after WWII, a number of camps in Scotland where Jews, communists, and homosexuals were imprisoned and sometimes killed were maintained by the Polish Government in exile.
British Concentration Camps: A Brief History from 1900-1975
Google Books: https://books.google.com/books/about/Br ... cdjgEACAAJ
Book Review: https://archive.is/GAR9K or http://web.archive.org/web/201610291157 ... n-webb.htm
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