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Huyton Alien Internment Camp

Line drawing of a tent in front of buildings

In summer 1940, as the Allied position deteriorated, Home Secretary Sir John Anderson ordered the arrest and imprisonment of many Germans and Austrians living in Britain. Fearing that a small number of these 'enemy aliens' posed a risk to national security, Churchill's instruction was to ''Collar the lot!''. Around 27,000 men and women, mostly Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution, were interned in hastily erected camps all over the country.

One of these was at Huyton, near Liverpool. Internees were housed in the recently built Woolfall Heath Estate, which was divided by an eight-metre high barbed wire fence. Conditions were often appalling: inmates lived crowded into unfurnished houses and tents, many sleeping on mattresses on the floor. Food was limited in quantity and monotonous. Morale amongst inmates was understandably low and there were instances of insanity and suicide.

Only a huge public outcry and heated debate in Parliament forced the Government to change its policy. By early 1941, most internees had been freed. At Huyton, conditions improved and by October, the camp had released its inmates and was being used as a military facility.