Let students explore this page of the website or pre-assign Reading: Internment in Canada. Students also study the corresponding Map.

In pairs (or, as computers permit, individually or in groups), students view Video: Internment in Canada, which features internees speaking about the administration and conditions of the Canadian internment camps. Students should watch the video twice; on the first viewing, students watch and listen carefully, while on the second viewing, students should note the anecdotes described by the interviewees.

Students discuss their notes in pairs or small groups, commenting on what they found most interesting or surprising.
Let students explore this page of the website or pre-assign Reading: Internment in Canada. Students also study the corresponding Map.

In pairs (or, as computers permit, individually or in groups), students view Video: Internment in Canada, which features internees speaking about the administration and conditions of the Canadian internment camps. Students should watch the video twice; on the first viewing, students watch and listen carefully, while on the second viewing, students should note the anecdotes described by the interviewees.

Students discuss their notes in pairs or small groups, commenting on what they found most interesting or surprising.

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Upon arrival in Canada, the refugees were spread out in makeshift prisoner of war camps in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. While some commandants and guards displayed tolerance – if not sympathy – for their prisoners, others combined anti-German and anti-Jewish attitudes when dealing with them. After a visit to Camp N in Sherbrooke, a military observer noted “strictness arbitrarily applied,...rude and appalling language and indulgence in antisemitic remarks [which] are particularly objectionable.”

Meanwhile, refugees interned in England were quickly gaining release and most were soon engaged in the war effort. The British, admitting their error, informed Canada that the refugees could be returned to freedom in Britain, although made it clear that they preferred that they be released into the safety of Canada. But Canada had resisted pressures in the past to grant admission to Jewish refugees, and officials were determined not to let Jews gain entry through the “back door” of internment.

Those who wished to join the British Pioneer Corps (a non-fighting unit) were soon able to return to Britain. Also released were scienti Read More
Upon arrival in Canada, the refugees were spread out in makeshift prisoner of war camps in New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. While some commandants and guards displayed tolerance – if not sympathy – for their prisoners, others combined anti-German and anti-Jewish attitudes when dealing with them. After a visit to Camp N in Sherbrooke, a military observer noted “strictness arbitrarily applied,...rude and appalling language and indulgence in antisemitic remarks [which] are particularly objectionable.”

Meanwhile, refugees interned in England were quickly gaining release and most were soon engaged in the war effort. The British, admitting their error, informed Canada that the refugees could be returned to freedom in Britain, although made it clear that they preferred that they be released into the safety of Canada. But Canada had resisted pressures in the past to grant admission to Jewish refugees, and officials were determined not to let Jews gain entry through the “back door” of internment.

Those who wished to join the British Pioneer Corps (a non-fighting unit) were soon able to return to Britain. Also released were scientists who had been working on top-secret military intelligence technology, and a few others needed for war-related work. The rest languished behind barbed wire in Canadian camps; some would stay there for as long as three years. They called themselves the “camp boys.”

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Divide the class into at least four groups. Assign at least one group to each of the four topics, representing a section on the website. Groups can double-up on one topic:

Education
Writing
The Arts
Religion

Working in their group, students explore the webpage, dossier and, if applicable, video related to their topic.

The group develops a presentation about their theme for the class. The presentation should highlight:

•    At least two artefacts or documents of interest: what does each source reveal about the internees’ response to internment?
•    At least one anecdote of interest from the companion video testimony or another primary source.

Each group presents to the class. Encourage students to ask questions of each group.

After each group has presented, the class discusses how each theme contributes to their understanding of internment. Prompting question: How do the sources featured (i.e. diary entries, drawings, attempts to observe one’s religious beliefs) relat Read More
Divide the class into at least four groups. Assign at least one group to each of the four topics, representing a section on the website. Groups can double-up on one topic:

Education
Writing
The Arts
Religion

Working in their group, students explore the webpage, dossier and, if applicable, video related to their topic.

The group develops a presentation about their theme for the class. The presentation should highlight:

•    At least two artefacts or documents of interest: what does each source reveal about the internees’ response to internment?
•    At least one anecdote of interest from the companion video testimony or another primary source.

Each group presents to the class. Encourage students to ask questions of each group.

After each group has presented, the class discusses how each theme contributes to their understanding of internment. Prompting question: How do the sources featured (i.e. diary entries, drawings, attempts to observe one’s religious beliefs) relate to modes of expression in your own life? How does the meaning of relatively simple forms of expression change in the context of internment?

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

In pairs (or, as computers permit, individually or in groups), students view Video: Morale, which features internees speaking about the effects of internment on their morale. As a class, discuss:

•    How do the internees speak about the experiences of younger versus older internees? Point out to students that the interview subjects represent the younger internees, as most of the older men are no longer alive.

•    How do the internees speak about their internment experiences compared to the experiences of their families still in Europe?
In pairs (or, as computers permit, individually or in groups), students view Video: Morale, which features internees speaking about the effects of internment on their morale. As a class, discuss:

•    How do the internees speak about the experiences of younger versus older internees? Point out to students that the interview subjects represent the younger internees, as most of the older men are no longer alive.

•    How do the internees speak about their internment experiences compared to the experiences of their families still in Europe?

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

The refugees suffered the effects of persecution, displacement, and anxiety for family left behind in Nazi-occupied Europe. To some, it seemed that they had escaped one antisemitic world only to be locked away in another.

Many interactions were shaped by rumours, gossip and bickering. Some maintained their sanity by resigning themselves to the seemingly endless wait for release. “I tried to kill my time,” recalled Julius Pfeiffer, the camp joker, “in order to forget that I was in the camp and didn’t know what to do with my life. I didn’t know where my wife was, whether she was alive – my two children, my parents – so I made jokes.” After the war he found his wife and children; they had survived Bergen-Belsen.

The young men were particularly preoccupied with the absence of women. Some found female pen pals. One internee recalls the pipe dreams of a rather shady character who began digging a tunnel, not to escape, but to smuggle in prostitutes. For some internees, homosexual encounters and relationships were also part of the camp experience. Sexuality was considered a natural part of these men’s lives and it Read More
The refugees suffered the effects of persecution, displacement, and anxiety for family left behind in Nazi-occupied Europe. To some, it seemed that they had escaped one antisemitic world only to be locked away in another.

Many interactions were shaped by rumours, gossip and bickering. Some maintained their sanity by resigning themselves to the seemingly endless wait for release. “I tried to kill my time,” recalled Julius Pfeiffer, the camp joker, “in order to forget that I was in the camp and didn’t know what to do with my life. I didn’t know where my wife was, whether she was alive – my two children, my parents – so I made jokes.” After the war he found his wife and children; they had survived Bergen-Belsen.

The young men were particularly preoccupied with the absence of women. Some found female pen pals. One internee recalls the pipe dreams of a rather shady character who began digging a tunnel, not to escape, but to smuggle in prostitutes. For some internees, homosexual encounters and relationships were also part of the camp experience. Sexuality was considered a natural part of these men’s lives and its private expression was tolerated by most.

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Students research and develop a paper or presentation about the Vancouver-based Asahi Baseball Club, reflecting on baseball as a cultural response of Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War.
Students research and develop a paper or presentation about the Vancouver-based Asahi Baseball Club, reflecting on baseball as a cultural response of Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War.

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Internment camps in Canada

Internment camps in Canada

Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A lecture on molecular rearrangement presented by Dr. Michaelis for the internee students of Camp I (Île-aux-Noix, Quebec).

A lecture on molecular rearrangement presented by Dr. Michaelis for the internee students of Camp I (Île-aux-Noix, Quebec). Courtesy Jack Hahn. Source: Library and Archives Canada/ Standard (Montréal, Québec), February 7, 1942/AMICUS 8382399/11

Courtesy Jack Hahn

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Faded brown school notebook with cover image of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police holding the reins of a rearing horse.

A notebook that Walter Josephy used while interned in Camp I (Île-aux-Noix, Quebec), circa 1941. Inside, Josephy recorded notes from physics lectures delivered by other internees in the camp “university.”

Courtesy Josephy Family

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A sepia-toned school matriculation photograph of 29 internees seated in two rows outdoors.

Camp A (Farnham, Quebec) school matriculation photo with instructors, 1941. Internees in several camps organized lectures and classes such as this one, attended by Gunter Bardeleben.

Courtesy Frank Koller

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Camp matric pamphlet, with title: “Selected Subtleties, hand-lettered on the cover.

Philipp Koller’s camp matric pamphlet, Selected Subtleties, which Koller and other teachers created in Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec) to prepare students for high school matriculation, circa 1940-1942.

Courtesy Frank Koller

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A collection of school notebooks, on a variety of subjects.

A collection of Peter Oberlander’s school notebooks on various subjects, kept during his internment in Camp T (Trois-Rivières, Quebec), Camp B (Ripples, New Brunswick) and Camp I (Île-aux-Noix, Quebec), circa 1940-1941.

Courtesy the Oberlander family

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A letter confirming that Gerry Waldston voluntarily attended classes in Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec), October 27, 1941.

Letter confirming that Gerry Waldston (Gerd Waldstein) voluntarily attended classes in Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec), October 27, 1941.

Courtesy Gerry Waldston

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A collection of letters and envelopes, bundled together with white cord.

Bundles of correspondence from Gideon Rosenbluth’s internment in Camp L (Quebec City, Quebec), and Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec).

Courtesy Gideon Rosenbluth and Vera Rosenbluth

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A postcard written on P.O.W. stamped mail with one line that was blacked out.

A censored POW mail postcard sent by Gideon Rosenbluth to Dr. J. Verbers, November 2, 1940. Rosenbluth asks about the location of his family and comments on the public perception of the internees, remarking on how many people think they are all Nazis.

Courtesy Gideon Rosenbluth and Vera Rosenbluth

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


The cover page of the Camp L Chronicle, a newspaper printed with red ink.

The Camp L Chronicle, published by the Refugee Committee of Camp L (Quebec City, Quebec), October 2, 1940. The front-page article provides insight into the internees’ frustrations and fears regarding their internment, the uncertainties of their future freedom, and their classification as prisoners of war by the Canadian government.

Courtesy Gideon Rosenbluth and Vera Rosenbluth

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A letter from Henry Kreisel to Commandant, Camp B (Ripples, New Brunswick), March 26, 1941.

A letter from Henry Kreisel to Commandant, Camp B (Ripples, New Brunswick), March 26, 1941. Kreisel, who had just turned eighteen, describes his interest in creative writing and requests that the Commandant allow him to send short stories to be published outside of the camp. Courtesy University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections, Henry Kreisel fonds, MSS 59, PC 79, TC 50, Box 1, Folder 1

Courtesy University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Postcard with the heading “Prisoner of War Mail,” provided to the internees for letter writing.

Peter Ziegler’s “prisoner of war” postcard sent to R. Frankenbush in New York from Camp B (Little River, New Brunswick), September 3, 1940.

– Courtesy Peter Ziegler, VHEC Collection

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Drawing: A pencil sketch of the exterior of a building.

A sketch by Gerry Waldston of the exterior of a building at Camp Q (Monteith, Ontario), July 14 to October 17, 1940.

Courtesy Gerry Waldston

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A pencil sketch of a man reclining in a chair turning the dial on the radio that is next to him.

A sketch by Gerry Waldston of a man seated in a chair holding a broom, turning the dial on the radio, Camp B (Ripples, New Brunswick), February 22, 1941. The image is captioned as “(5 minute sketch) Drawn because it just happened.”

Courtesy Gerry Waldston

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A linoprint portrait of a man shown in three quarter view.

A linoprint self-portrait created by Robert Langstadt during internment.

By Robert Langstast, courtesy Gunter Bardeleben, VHEC Collection

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Light pencil sketch of St. Lawrence coastline drawn on faded re-used paper.

A drawing of the St. Lawrence coastline by Hans Falk, Camp L (Quebec City, Quebec), circa July – October 1940.

Courtesy of the family of Hans L. Falk of NC, PA, and WA

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A pencil sketch of the Plains of Abraham. Visible through the paper are the typewritten words on the reverse.

A pencil sketch of the Plains of Abraham by Hans Falk, Camp L (Quebec City, Quebec), circa July – October 1940.

Courtesy of the family of Hans L. Falk of NC, PA, and WA

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Collection of four water colour scenes on toilet paper.

Watercolour scenes from internment on toilet paper, by Wolfgang Gerson, Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec), circa 1940-1942.

Courtesy the Gerson family

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Artist Gunter Weymann seated at  a desk sketching, behind him is a table with art supplies.

Jewish internee and artist Gunter Weymann sketching in a Canadian internment camp, circa 1940-1942.

Courtesy Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A letter certifying that John Newmark (né Hans Neumark) played the piano.

A letter written by Lieutenant G.C. Roy on behalf of the Department of National Defence certifying that John Newmark (né Hans Neumark) played the piano for the Officers of Camp B (Ripples, New Brunswick), June 24, 1941. – © Government of Canada. Source: Library and Archives Canada/G.C. Roy/Eric Koch Fonds/e010939538

© Government of Canada.

© Government of Canada.


An advert for a concert in the dining hall of Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec).

An advert for a concert in the dining hall of Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec), circa 1941. – Courtesy Eric Koch. Source: Library and Archives Canada/Author Unknown/Eric Koch Fonds /e010939539

Courtesy Eric Koch

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Exhibition of handcrafts and models on a table with an accompanying sign in the background.

Remnants of an exhibition, Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec), circa 1940-1943. The internees created this exhibition with an accompanying sign: “Refugees from Nazi Oppression Transferred from England Interned in Canada.” – Courtesy Eric Koch / Library and Archives Canada / PA-188345

Courtesy Eric Koch / Library and Archives Canada / PA-188345

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A satirical play on translucent paper, entitled "It's Good For Us."

A satirical play entitled “It’s Good For Us” about a group of internees interned in a camp where they are treated so well that they do not want to leave, circa 1940-1942.

Courtesy Gideon Rosenbluth and Vera Rosenbluth

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Drawing on paper entitled “End of Summer” that shows two internees packing up a tent.

A drawing by Gerry Waldston entitled “End of Summer,” October 1940.

Courtesy Gerry Waldston

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Permission for Gerry Waldston to sketch within the compound.

Permission issued by the Commandant of Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec) allowing Gerry Waldston (Gerd Waldstein) permission to sketch within the compound, July 2, 1941.

Courtesy Gerry Waldston

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A small outdoor scene painted in watercolour with earth tones.

A small watercolour by Oscar Cahén painted during his internment in Canada. After his release, Cahén went on to be a prominent figure in Canadian art, and a founding member of Painters Eleven.

© The Cahén ArchivesTM

© The Cahén ArchivesTM


A form distributed to the internees of Camp I (Île-aux-Noix, Quebec).

A form distributed to the internees of Camp I (Île-aux-Noix, Quebec) asking them if working on Saturdays went against their religious convictions, circa 1940-1943.

Courtesy Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A letter written by internee Willi Bodenheimer to Chief Rabbi Cohen, December 4, 1940.

A letter written by internee Willi Bodenheimer to Chief Rabbi Cohen, December 4, 1940. A member of the “orthodox group of Internment Camp I,” Bodenheimer thanks the Rabbi for sending gifts to the camp and requests other religious supplies including Chanukah candles, shaving powder, and kosher gut and glue to repair the camp’s Sefer Torah.

Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A letter written by internee Adolf Kantorwicz to Chief Rabbi Cohen, December 8, 1940.

A letter written by internee Adolf Kantorwicz to Chief Rabbi Cohen, December 8, 1940. Writing on behalf of the orthodox Jews of Camp A (Farnham, Quebec), Kantorwicz thanks the Rabbi for his assistance in sending kosher meat to the camp, and requests that the Internment Operations soak the meat before it is delivered.

Courtesy Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Notice written in German for a Christmas Eve service, with hand lettering in black and red with stars.

Notice of a Christmas Eve service for the Protestant community in Camp A (Farnham, Quebec), signed by Richard Hoff and the Camp Leader, December 24, 1940.

Courtesy Henry Graupner, Guelph, Ontario

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A letter sent to the Protestant camp community from the Jewish camp community of Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec).

A letter sent to Richard Hoff and the Protestant camp community from the Jewish camp community of Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec), August 13, 1942.

Courtesy Henry Graupner, Guelph, Ontario

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A Jewish internee sitting beside his cupboard made out of packing cases.

A Jewish internee sitting beside his cupboard made out of packing cases, location unknown, circa 1940-43.

Courtesy Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Jewish internees reading in the camp synagogue.

Jewish internees reading in the camp synagogue with the Torah ark visible between two long tables with benches, circa 1940-1943.

Courtesy Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A letter to the Commander of Camp B (Ripples, New Brunswick) requesting that Gustav Bauer be released from the camp.

A letter from a rabbi to the Commander of Camp B (Ripples, New Brunswick) requesting that Gustav Bauer be released from the camp prison for Yom Kippur, October 11, 1940.

Courtesy Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, Montreal

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Establish Historical Significance
Students reflect on the significance of a variety of cultural responses to internment – writing, art, learning and religious observance – and what these reveal about the period.

Use Primary Source Evidence
Students consider what eyewitness testimony reveald about the conditions of Canadian internment camps, and about the varied responses of the internees to internment.

Take Historical Perspective
Students consider how internees with an uncertain future viewed their internment, and the broader context of war.

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