World War II Camps in Jamaica
Evacuees, Refugees, Internees, Prisoners of War
- Published: December 2022
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Between 1939 and 1947, the Caribbean island of Jamaica – then a British colony – was haven or detention centre for thousands of displaced Europeans; an often under-recognized contribution to the Allied war effort. A civilian camp accommodated evacuees from Gibraltar and, belatedly, provided sanctuary for groups of mainly Jewish refugees. Others who had fled Europe ahead of looming fascist threats would be interned in military detention camps whose populations were swollen by German and Italian civilians from several British West African colonies, co-mingled for convenience with hundreds of German and Italian merchant mariners captured at sea during the early months of the war.
World War II Camps in Jamaica disentangles the conditions under which these various populations were held, drawing on primary records, personal accounts and media coverage; noting differences and similarities in their management; considering the camps and their populations within the local context; and considering the extent of interface and interaction that ensued despite official efforts to keep the incoming populations separate and transitory.