World experts to talk about internment

A picture from one of the internment camps

A picture from one of the internment camps

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World leading experts on the subject of civilian internment during the First World War are set to speak at a major conference on the Isle of Man.

The conference, which is timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first internees on the Isle of Man in September 1914, is being jointly staged at the Manx Museum by Manx National Heritage and De Montfort University in Leicester.

Manx National Heritage Curator of Social History, Matthew Richardson, said: ‘The role of the Isle of Man in providing accommodation for interned enemy aliens was an important but often overlooked aspect of Britain’s involvement in the First World War.

‘At its peak, theKnockaloe camp near Peel held over 22,000 German, Austrian and Turkish men.

‘It has been estimated that something approaching 29,000 men were accommodated in total between Knockaloe and the island’s other camp at Douglas, over the four years of the war.

‘This conference is part of Manx National Heritage’s series of events marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war, and is a rare opportunity to hear from some of the leading international academics who are researching this subject.’

He added: ‘It is very exciting for us to be able to welcome some of the most prominent scholars in this field, some from as far away as Germany and the USA.’

Day one of the conference will take the form of formal lectures followed by discussions led by academic speakers including Professor Tammy Proctor, head of history at Utah State University, who will speak on food politics in the Isle of Man Camps.

Originally from Kansas City, Professor Proctor’s past research has examined subjects including female spies and the civilian experience of the first world war.

Dr Zoe Denness, lecturer in history at University of Kent, will speak on the subject of the wives of internees.

Zoe is a specialist in the subject of the history of British civilian internment between 1899 and 1945 and has examined the British government’s internment of enemy civilians during the South African war (1899-1902), the first world war and the second world war.

Professor Rainer Pöppinghege, senior lecturer at Universität Paderborn, Germany, will discuss the role of German internees and the camp newspaper’s functions, while Dr Stefan Manz, head of German at Aston University, will provide a comparative study of Knockaloe and the Stobs internment camp in Scotland.

Professor Matthew Stibbe, senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University will discuss British civilians interned in the Ruhleben camp near Berlin.

Guest conference speakers will be joined by Matthew Richardson and Yvonne Cresswell, curators for social history at Manx National Heritage who will speak on the Isle of Man at war, and Knockaloe and Douglas internment camps. Day two will include a field visit by coach to the site of Knockaloe camp, guided by Yvonne Cresswell. Lunch and refreshments are included in the booking price for both days.

The conference supports the current Manx National Heritage exhibition This Terrible Ordeal, which runs at the Manx Museum until spring 2015, admission to the exhibition is free.

The full conference programme is available to download at, with conference spaces available for £100 per delegate for the two-day conference.

Day places are available at £60 for Saturday and £40 for Sunday, which includes the tour of Knockaloe.

All-inclusive travel packages are available from £310 by sea and £370 by air, with all conference bookings via Isle of Man Event Services.

Those attending either the first day or the full weekend conference will receive complementary admission to a public lecture by Professor Panikos Panayi of Demontfort University, who will talk about his research into aspects of life at Knockaloe.

Professor Panayi’s lecture will take place at the Manx Museum on Friday, September 12, at 7.30pm. Individual tickets to the lecture cost £10 and are available now from the Manx Museum shop.

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