This post is part of a series about European Migration. You can read the complete series HERE.
Internment is an interesting element of migration, and relates to citizens, rather than those involved in military service, which we will discuss in other posts.
During a period of war, it is not just the Countries that are at war that intern citizens, it is also the Axis powers, those associating themselves with one of the parties, and those other countries that are linked – Let me provide an few examples from the Second World War:
- Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, as did Russia, though two weeks later, on 17 September 1939. Polish citizens were taken by both Germany and Russia to work and support the regime that had taken them. That did not necessarily mean that Polish citizens interned by Germany, actually experienced their internment in Germany. Internees could be held anywhere in the wider German area, which in the early days of the war included Austria, and eventually included other territories taken through war. It was also not outside of the realms of possibility that those interned could be moved from one location to another, and doing so in an enforced manner. Furthermore, life events were still continuing – effectively births and deaths.
- On 3 September 1939 the United Kingdom declared war on Germany in response to the invasion of Poland. That declaration of war included a number of countries that fell under the auspices of the Crown and meant that those countries were also at war with Germany, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and many, many other countries. Equally those countries who were allies of Germany were also at war with countries under the Crown.
- After 1941 we see a further shifts of allegiances, and those shifts meant that some internments were not the most obvious, and we will look at some of those in the coming months.
- What about German and Austrians living in Britain and other countries under the auspices of the Crown? Well those that were of German, Austrian and later on Italian heritage were viewed as possible threats. For some they had been in Britain or her territories for many, many years were seen in a favourable position, for those that were not, they were interned whilst individuals were assessed – more on this later on in the series. Those that swore allegiance to the Crown through the formal process of Naturalisation were not under review.
There are a great many elements at play here, enforcement, migration and the wider history of the time period, added to which that life events still took place and it is easy to see why those undertaking One-Name Studies or Surname research need to research on a global level, albeit gradually. As we research, whether that is our individual families or a wider project, it is important to realise and remember that our ancestors or those we research did not exist in isolation of history.