Internment during the First World War: A Mass Global Phenomenon

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Date / time: 13 May - 14 May, All day

Imperial War Museum North

Internment during the First World War: A Mass Global Phenomenon

Organised by the History Research Group at De Montfort University in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum North.

Although civilian internment has become associated with the Second World War in popular memory, it has a longer history. The turning point in this history occurred during the First World War when, in the interests of ‘security’ in a situation of total war, the internment of ‘enemy aliens’ became part of state policy for the belligerent states, resulting in the incarceration, displacement and, even murder, of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world. This pioneering international Conference on internment during the First World War brings together experts from throughout the world to investigate the importance of the conflict for the history of civilian incarceration. The speakers will tackle three questions in particular:

1. Did the Great War transform the nature of internment from a limited policy driven by local military circumstances to one which became an internationally accepted and legitimised procedure used by governments to incarcerate enemy aliens, ‘internal enemies’ and ethnic outsiders? To what extent did it set precedents for events that took place later in the twentieth century?

2. Did governments already have long-term plans for mass incarceration and to what extent did they implement these plans? Were governments guided by public opinion? Did they simply implement policies which mimicked those of their enemies?

3. What impact did interment have upon individuals, both men and women, whether they or their families experienced life behind barbed wire?

The conference has been planned to coincide with the centenary of the decision of the British government to introduce wholesale internment of German males of military age in Britain, announced in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith on 13 May 1915.

The conference is open all those interested in this neglected aspect of the history of the Great War on a global scale.

For the programme and to register for the conference go to:—conference.aspx