On the 17 May the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) reported from London on the arrival of
Jewish refugees from the Netherlands and the likely fate of those left
behind in a communique issued on the 19 May.
Little hope was held out today by refugees arriving from Holland that any appreciable number of German Jewish emigres had succeeded in escaping. (There were approximately 23,000 refugees from the Reich in Holland at the outbreak of the war, according to the Joint Distribution Committee.)
It was pointed out that all German nationals had been ordered confined to their homes and it was consequently impossible for them to arrange for flight until the last moment.
There is no definite information here as to the fate of the 331 refugees known to have been quartered in the camp at Westbrook [Kamp Westerbork] near the Dutch-German border. A Quaker relief worker who left Amsterdam told the J.T.A. today that he doubted if there had been time to evacuate the camp before the invasion.
There were a number of refugees at Camp Sluis in Zeeland, a province which is still held by the Dutch. While they have not yet fallen into Nazi hands, they were believed to be in the thick of the fighting unless they had in the meantime been evacuated across the nearby Belgian frontier.
Seven German-Jewish men were among the 14 refugees from Holland who arrived at an east coast port yesterday. They had fled from the interior only to find the last refugee ship had sailed. In desperation, they cycled to Scheveningen and from there set out in an 18-foot yawl, though none of the party had been in a sailing boat before. After ten hours of sailing they were sighted by a Dutch coastal vessel, taken aboard and brought to England. The Jews were taken to a police station for further interrogation.
Long lines of refugees at Dorland House, headquarters of the Netherlands Emergency Committee, included many Jews. One Jewish doctor from Amsterdam showed his stethoscope, which was the only possession he had managed to salvage. He had escaped in a lifeboat for 20 which carried 37.
None of those interviewed could tell
of more than his own harrowing experiences. "I still cannot believe I
am safe. It seems a miracle," one told the J.T.A. correspondent.
The Jewish doctor from Amsterdam whose only possession was a stethoscope must have been one of the passengers on the Zeemanshoop
but at present it has not been possible to identify him. The fourteen
refugees who "cycled to Scheveningen and from there set out in an
18-foot yawl" included Leo Vroman, a well known Dutch poet. The yawl
was called the Emma and the story of their escape was published in March 2011 by the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, Texas, where Leo Vroman lives in a retirement home.
Internment on the Isle of Man
outbreak of war there were about 75,000 Germans and Austrians living in
Britain. Some had lived in Britain for many years, a large number had
come to Britain during the 1930s as refugees from Nazi oppression and
persecution while others were living in Britain on a temporary basis
working in hotels or as nurses.
the German invasion of the Netherlands, fears grew that the Germans had
planted "fifth columnists" (enemy agents and spies) amongst the
refugees who would be gathering information and then aiding the German
armed forces if they invaded." Living with the Wire (1994)
Enemy Aliens resident in Britain at
the outbreak of war were classified in three categories which
determined whether they were interned:
Class A: Those suspected of Nazi sympathies to be interned immediately
Class B: Restricted freedom when a judge considered immediate internment was unjustified
Class C: Recognised as genuine refugees from Nazi oppresion
Enemy aliens arriving in Britain
after the outbreak of war were interned on the Isle of Man until their
case had been considered by a tribunal and even if the tribunal put
them in Class C they were not released until they received the offer of
a job on the mainland of Britain.
The refugees with German nationality who left Scheveningen on the 14 May 1940 aboard the Dutch lifeboat Zeemanshoop and disembarked from HMS Venomous at Dover on the evening of the 15 May spent two weeks in Pentonville and Holloway prisons in London before being sent by train to Liverpool and by ferry to Douglas in the Isle of Man.
The Isle of Man was an isolated
island in the middle of the Irish Sea with empty hotels and guest
houses which could be requisitioned
and used to accommodate German and Italian civilians living in Britain
at the outbreak of war and Jewish refugees from Germany. It had been
used for interning enemy aliens during the "Great War" and was now to
serve the same purpose again. Separate camps
were created for men and women separating husbands from
their wives but initially no attempt was made to distinguish between
Jewish refugees and Nazi sympathisers.
Plans to transport enemy aliens to Commonwealth countries were abandoned after the sinking of the Arandora Star on the 2 July 1940 while carrying 1,216 German and Italian internees to Canada. Over 800 lives were lost.
British policy and the refugees, 1933-1941
by Yvonne Kapp, Margaret Mynatt. Routledge, 1997.
Britain's Internees in the Second World War
by Miriam Kochan. Macmillan, 1983.
Living with the Wire
Civilian Internment in the Isle of Man during the two World Wars; edited by Yvonne M. Cresswell. Manx National Heritage, 1994.
Internment during World Wars 1 and 2: Select Bibliography, No 1, June 2006
Manx National Heritage Library, 2006.