The British Internment of Refugees from Nazi Germany in Kenya during WWII

Jutta Vinzent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the British internment of German and Austrian refugees in Kenya, particularly in the central internment camp, Kabete, a camp that has not received any scholarly recognition so far. Thanks to records in the National Archives in London and Nairobi, it has been possible to trace the circumstances of the internment of civilian Germans and Austrians at Kabete and their release, bringing also to light how the Colonial Office in London and the colonial government in Kenya operated together. Being sparse, these written records have been supplemented by visual representations of the internment, namely by art works produced by the artist and curator Valentin G. Braun (1919–1998), who was interned at Kabete, and by a collection of photographs housed in the Imperial War Museum, London. Reading the sources together, they reveal that documentary photography can be as subjective as art works can be documentary. Indeed, these sources do not only provide an insight into the organisation and life in internment, but also into the strategies of British colonial power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-182
JournalYearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • exile
  • Refugee camps
  • modern art
  • Colonisation
  • photography
  • Drawing
  • British Empire
  • Kenya


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