The exhibition ‘Internment during the First World War. The Global German Experience’ will open on 26 April with a symposium at the German Historical Institute London.
The exhibition will shed light on the little-known history of German civilians who were interned as ‘enemy aliens’ in British Empire locations across the globe during the First World War. The largest internment camp, Knockaloe, held 22,000 prisoners on the Isle of Man. In retaliation, British citizens were interned in the Ruhleben camp near Berlin, which brought the global experience of internment back to the German home front. The exhibition will explore the impact of long periods of isolation on the internees’ mental health, resulting in the ‘barbed wire disease’. The 18-panel showpiece will feature a virtual reality experience that gives viewers an immersive experience of Fort Napier Camp in South Africa, providing a new perspective on presenting the history of wartime internment.
The symposium, which will take place at 5pm on the opening day of the exhibition, will feature talks from experts in the field, followed by a discussion and an opportunity to view the exhibition and virtual reality experience. Academic lead contacts are Professor Stefan Manz (Aston University Birmingham) and Professor Matthew Stibbe (Sheffield Hallam University).
Symposium and exhibition opening:
5.00 – 5.05 | Welcome GHIL, Christina von Hodenberg
5.05 – 5.15 | Internment in the British Empire, Panikos Panayi
5.15 – 5.25 | Race and Internment: the Ruhleben camp near Berlin, Michelle Kiessling
5.25 – 5.35 | Mental Health and Internment, Matthew Stibbe
5.35 – 5.45 | Internment in Switzerland, Susan Barton
5.45 – 5.55 | Spanish humanitarian efforts, Marina Perez de Arcos
5.55 – 6.00 | Presenting internment in Virtual Reality, Stefan Manz, Paul Long
6.00 – 6.30 | Discussion
6.30 – 8.00 | Exhibition viewing and Virtual Reality demonstration
The free-to-attend exhibition will be open to the public from 26 April to 30 June 2023 at the German Historical Institute London. To book a place at the launch event on 26 April, please visit the Institute’s website: