In June 1940, after the Fall of France, the Canadian Government agreed to accept a number of Prisoners of War from Britain. It was believed that this would reduce the threat of a “Fifth Column” in the event of a very real threat of invasion. Many were sent to Camp R in Red Rock, Ontario. Yet, these were not an ordinary group of prisoners. Nazis were interned with anti-Nazis, merchant seamen and even a number of Jewish refugees. What led to this decision and how did it impact on both the Canadian people and prisoners themselves?
In this fascinating work, recently acquired by the Library, we discover so much about this little-known area of Canadian history. Canada hosted 35,000 detainees in camps but none were as unique as Camp R. For 18 months, from June 1940 until October 1941, over one thousand inmates were held there.
Through first-hand interviews and painstaking research, the historian Ernest Robert Zimmermann gives us the background to the decision to accept detainees and explains the political situation in Canada at the time. He also details the camp life and its many tensions. From the character of the inmates to the conditions they were kept in, camp culture, the many escape attempts, Nazi displays and anti-Semitic feeling, a detailed picture of the camp emerges. It becomes clear that real lessons were learned from the shocking decision to keep this diverse group of people together.
We also learn of what happened to many of the inmates following the Second World War as the impact of life at this camp and others continued to be felt in the years to come.
To discover more about this controversial history of The Little Third Reich on Lake Superior, please see our Main Catalogue.