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When the artist Hugo Dachinger asked to paint the portrait of diarist Wilhelm Hollitscher, a new friendship was born. Both men, refugees from the Nazis, were interned in the Huyton Internment Camp in 1940. However, they refused to let the experience daunt them, with Dachinger manufacturing his art materials from anything to hand and Hollitscher continuing his life-long habit of diary keeping. Hollitscher’s diary provides a vivid account of daily life in the camp along with wider political comment, while Dachinger staged exhibitions of his work in the camp entitled Behind the Wire. Both men found being interned as an ‘enemy alien’ traumatic, but were able to draw strength from the experience. The context is set by three chapters. Professor Charmian Brinson writes about the history of internment and Churchill’s shameful policy to ‘collar the lot,’ Rachel Dickson elucidates Dachinger’s work in the camp, and Ines Newman, the granddaughter of Wilhelm Hollitscher, provides a portrait of her grandfather’s background and life. The book reveals the true experience of life in captivity and is as relevant to today’s injustices as it is an account of unjust treatment in the past.
About the Author
Charmian Brinson, Professor Emeritus, Imperial College London, has published extensively in this area. Ines Newman has worked in local government policy and spent the last three years researching family history. Rachel Dickson, Head of Curatorial Services, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, has published widely on exiled artists.