1940-41 Hutchinson Internment Camp Almanac Signed by Internees with Largely Hand-Coloured Artwork

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On offer is a sensational and extremely rare copy of The Camp Almanac 1941, no.13-14, which was created and published at Hutchinson Internment Camp (see NOTES at end of listing) on the Isle of Man in December of 1940, amid World War II. 

This special presentation copy of the December 1940 newsletter, produced by the internees at Hutchinson Internment Camp, contains mostly hand-finished pages, some signed by contributors. This copy belonged to internee Frederick Solominski (Frederick Solomon), who contributed a piece of art, “Elijah and the Angels”, to the Almanac. It is signed on the Preface and Thanks page by hand “To our friend and collaborator Fr Solominski”, by Michael Corvin (Leo Freund) (March 7, 1941). The Almanac was also hand-signed in pencil by the following internees and contributors: Walter Simmel, who signed his essay, “Madame X”; Dr. Bruno Ahrends, who signed his essay and accompanying images on post-war reconstruction of seaside resorts; and Erich Kahn, who signed his image, “The Philosophers”. 

The Camp newsletters included artworks, illustrations, cartoons and articles on camp life and the world outside. The edition on offer features contributions from the Dada artist Kurt Schwitters, who fled from Norway to Britain in 1940; the lawyer, artist and author, Fred Uhlman; the artist Hellmuth Weissenborn (who drew the cover page); the historian Heinrich Fraenkel; the photographer Ernst Schwitters-Guldahl; the art dealer Siegfried Oppenheimer; the architect Bruno Ahrends, and others. [Note:  It was Oppenheimer who convinced the camp authorities to provide the painters and sculptors in the camp with artistic materials]. 

According to the article listing in the Table of Contents, this Almanac is close to complete, save for the missing “Maxim” article. As well, two pieces not listed in the Contents are present in this Almanac: Dudelsack Auf Capri by Dr. Richard Friedenthal (the only German piece in the Almanac) and Music-Review by Dr. Alfred Perlmann. The Almanac contains 13 full-page hand-coloured images plus a title page with beautiful hand-coloured zodiac frame and many smaller hand-coloured images on the pages with typed text. This Almanac contains 25 mimeographed pages. The book is hole punched and bound by string with a simple cardboard folder cover. The cover measures 15.5x9.5 inches while the pages themselves measure 13.5x8.5 inches. The Almanac is in VG+ condition with some minor age toning, bends and folds. A similar copy of this exact Almanac was sold by Christie’s in 2018 for 16,500 GBP (approx 21,000 USD). 

NOTES: Hutchinson Camp (also known as “P” Camp), located in Douglas on the Isle of Man, was an internment camp. Initiated by Winston Churchill during World War Two, it was one of many camps opened to quell the anxiety of British citizens who believed spies were among them. Hutchinson kept “enemy aliens” - or those living in Britain with German, Austrian and Italian passports - jailed behind barbed wire in boarding houses. Tragically, many of those detained in Hutchinson were Jews who had fled the Nazis only to be imprisoned by the country they hoped would liberate them. Hutchinson became known as the artist’s camp as it housed many professors, artists, composers, writers and more. Notable artists interned at Hutchinson included Kurt Schwitters, Hellmuth Weissenborn, Paul Hamann and Eric Kahn. According to AJR Refugee Voices, “Despite the injustice of the situation, the internees quickly organised. The camp became a hub of creative endeavour, with a daily program of lectures, live music performances, poetry readings, and English lessons”. In fact, they even produced a camp newsletter (a special edition of which is offered here). Hutchinson was opened on July 13, 1940, housing up to 1200 men, and was in operation. In early 1942, most of the innocent men had been released from Hutchinson and, while it remained open until 1945, it became a camp for Prisoners of War and its cultural life faded. 

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