‘Internment during the First World War. The Global German Experience’ Exhibition launched on 26th April 2023

A recording of the presentations from the exhibition is now available as a German Historical Institute London (GHIL) podcast here.


The exhibition ‘Behind the Wire and Virtual Reality Experience’ will be shown in the German Historical Institute London until 30 June 2023. For further details please click here.


For information about the ‘What WW1 civilian internment can teach us about today’ research being undertaken by Professor Matthew Stibbe (Sheffield Hallam University), please visit the Sheffield Hallam University website here.


Exhibition organised by the German Historical Institute London.

During the First World War, German civilians were interned as ‘enemy aliens’ in British Empire locations around the world. The biggest internment camp was Knockaloe on the Isle of Man, holding 22,000 prisoners. British citizens, white and non-white, were interned in Ruhleben camp near Berlin as a retaliatory measure, bringing the global experience of internment back to the German home front as well. For civilian internees across the world, long periods of isolation caused mental health problems in the form of the ‘barbed wire disease’. Humanitarian support came from the Spanish and the Swiss governments, as well as the Red Cross. The exhibition focuses on these global themes, opening up new perspectives and formats for presenting the history of wartime internment. Alongside eighteen panels, a Virtual Reality Experience will give viewers an immersive experience of Fort Napier Camp in South Africa.

Symposium and exhibition opened on Wednesday 26th April 2023, with the following schedule:

5.00 – 5.05 Welcome GHIL, Christina von Hodenberg

5.05 – 5.15 Internment in the British Empire, Panikos Panayi

5.15 – 5.25 Race and Internment: the Ruhleben camp near Berlin, Michelle Kiessling

5.25 – 5.35 Mental Health and Internment, Matthew Stibbe

5.35 – 5.45 Internment in Switzerland, Susan Barton

5.45 – 5.55 Spanish humanitarian efforts, Marina Perez de Arcos

5.55 – 6.00 Presenting internment in Virtual Reality, Stefan Manz, Paul Long

6.00 – 6.30 Discussion

6.30 – 8.00 Exhibition viewing and Virtual Reality demonstration

Academic lead contacts are Professor Stefan Manz (Aston University Birmingham) and Professor Matthew Stibbe (Sheffield Hallam University).