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Letters smuggled out of Holsworthy Internment Camp, March 1919March 1919

During the First World War, nearly 7000 ‘enemy aliens’, mainly of German and Austro-Hungarian origin, were interned in camps in Australia. The Library holds material created by the internees, whichoffers a personal insight into life in the camps and the emotional impact of Australia’s wartime internment policies on individuals and families.

The archive contains the internee’s personal papers, sports and concert programs, newspapers and drawings, along with 167 glass photonegatives of life at the Holsworthy camp, taken by a camp guard. At the heart of the collection are 40 handwritten diaries kept by the internees.

Two letters by different authors, written in English, were cut into strips and tightly wrapped around a piece of wood, with note: ‘A Bolchevik message thrown over the fence from ... Internees camp at Holdsworthy [Holsworthy] during the time of the prisoners’ strike there (March 1919). It was wet weather at the time and the message was wrapped up in this way in order to keep it dry.’