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This audio clip is from an interview with Gaby Koppel, recorded by Centre for the Movement of People, Aberystwyth University, in February 2022. In the clip, Gaby talks about her father’s (Henry Koppel) internment as an ‘enemy alien’ in the Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man and his deportation to Canada.

Henry Koppel was born Heinrich Pinkus in Berlin in 1922. His stepfather, Joachim Koppel, was a businessman who fled to Britain in 1938 and set up a factory at Treforest Trading Estate near Pontypridd. Heinrich and his younger sister Ilse followed soon afterwards and stayed with the rest of the family in Cardiff. In May 1940, both Heinrich and Ilse were interned as ‘enemy aliens’, and Heinrich was deported to Canada. Ilse was released in February 1941, while Heinrich came back to the UK and was released in November 1941. After the war, Heinrich changed his name to Henry Koppel and became chief engineer for Aero Zipp, the family business. His daughter Gaby, who grew up in Cardiff, now works as a journalist in London.


My dad was—must have been one of the younger ones, ‘cause he was 17. A lot of people have written about the hardships of internment, but my dad just had funny stories to tell, and regarded the whole thing as a bit of an adventure, which maybe because of his age, it was. He—one thing he said, it was very cold. In Canada, so, he went—first he was interned, he was sent to Huyton in Liverpool, which was a holding camp, then he was sent to the Isle of Man, and he did tell all these stories. I mean, I heard them fresh from him, without any sense of cliché, about how the Isle of Man, it was like a university to him, he learned such a lot about music, the Amadeus Quartet, he heard them play, he learned to play bridge, which was his lifelong passion, and he learned all sorts of things; it was really—a real education. And obviously, he was surrounded by the Mittel European Jewish people, who were the milieu that he was used to, so there was a sort of comfortable…

And he, he’d tell you stories about the, the food, ’cause you had the rations, you know, were absolutely rubbish in Canada, but, you know, you had all these Viennese pastry chefs, and they’d take all the rations and they—all this sort of awful meat, quality of meat, they were being sent—make it into salami and sell it back to the Canadians at a profit. But one thing that must have been missing, so I’ve got all my—not all, but I’ve got about 15 or 20 letters that my dad wrote home from the internment camp, and it was ‘Please send...’ – I mean, he wasn’t very, he didn’t say very much, quite large writing, quite small paper—'Please send warm trousers and chocolate.’

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