WHEN PEACE WAS A CRIME
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On England’s declaration of war against Germany on September 3, 1939, there were thought to be up to 20,000 Germans and Austrians plus 60,000 other European refugees resident in Britain.
Vetted, some were identified as being either being sympathetic towards National Socialism or merely wanted peace between Britain and Germany. Many detainees were classified as A, B or C category risk. The first category was interned without trial without limit. The group classified as B had their movements restricted, and the C category was left alone but their civil rights restricted and placed under surveillance.
In May 1940, Britain prepared to invade the Low Countries and open up a front similar to that of the Western Front (1914 – 1918). It is estimated that as many as three million British, French and German youth died on these battlefields.
In order to avoid a repeat of this European catastrophe the German High Command pre-emptively occupied the Low Countries and northern France; thus Britain’s planned invasion of Europe was frustrated.
The detentions increased and a further 2,000 males, mainly resident or working in coastal areas and in a position to warn the Germans of unusual military activity, were rounded up and interned.
A month later Italians were included in the mass arrests. By late June 1940, all C-Category men under 70-years of age were arrested and interned without trial and without a period of time. Those too young or too old to be arrested were heavily restricted in their civil rights and movements.
All anti-war individuals and organisations thought to be sympathetic towards pacifism, or who were in some way connected to anti-war movements such as the British Union of Fascists (BUF), were detained, again without trial or limit of time.
The most prominent was BUF leader Oswald Mosley and his family. All members of the British Union were arrested, questioned, and most detained.
May 1940 also saw the arrest of Tyler Kent, an American diplomat stationed in London. The diplomat was associated with anti-war Members of Parliament, such as Captain Archibald Ramsey, MC, founder of The Right Club.
The distinguished British army officer was Unionist MP for Peebles and South Midlothian, a member of His Majesty’s Bodyguard for Scotland and scion of the Scottish aristocracy.
All were accused of plotting with pro-Fascist and diverse peace movements for a negotiated peace with Germany. Ramsey, along with thousands of others, was detained for most of the war.
Throughout Britain, including the Isle of Man, there were scattered 1,050 British concentration camps known as internment camps. Many of these camps housed civilians including children.
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