SWASTIKA FLAGS AND NAZI SONGS IN THE ISLAND'S INTERNMENT CAMPS

Connery Chappell, in his book Island of Barbed Wire (p.153), makes clear that Nazi and Fascist songs were sung in the Mooragh Internment Camp in 1943, apparently in celebration of Hitler's birthday (20 April).
In a recent conversation with Ramsey man Terry Tregellis, who has vivid memories of the camp as a child, he confirmed to me that he personally had seen a Swastika flag hanging out of a window on a number of occasions at the rear of a hotel in the area of the former Bay Hotel (Mooragh Promenade). He said the flag was quite huge, and as it is unlikely to have been issued by the camp authorities, was probably "home made" on the premises. He recalls also, particularly towards the end of the war when the camp was used for POWs, that German/Nazi songs were sung by the inmates on the same or similar occasions on which the flag was hung out. One such song he remembers being frequently sung - he recalls this from hearing the same song again years after the war - was Erika, the first line running Auf der Heide blüht ein kleines Blümelein ('on the heath blooms a small flower').
This song, we know, was composed in 1939 by the renowned Herms Niel, bandmaster of the Reichsarbeitsdienst ('State Labour Service'), and formed part of that body of songs written or geared up for the war effort and became very popular among the soldiery. The song survived the war and is sung today by members of the Bundeswehr on a variety of recordings. It is often played on RTÉ radio in Dublin, and in the 1960s a version in Irish appeared for students of that language in Belfast where it is still sung.
Another Herms Niel song that also achieved popularity at that time was
Es ist so schön, Soldat zu sein ('it's so nice to be a soldier').
This, though regularly parodied by the soldiery, did not survive the war. If songs were sung in honour of Hitler's birthday, then almost certainly one of them would have been the Nazi Party anthem Die Fahne hoch!, or the Horst-Wessel-Lied (1929).
Other possibilities could have included Und heute gehört uns Deutschland und morgen die ganze Welt ('today Germany belongs to us, tomorrow the world') originally written by Hans Baumann 1931 for the Catholic League of German Youth), or Volk ans Gewehr ('people to arms', by Berlin Stormtrooper Arno Pardun 1931), etc.
If other members of the Manx community can also bring to mind the flying of Swastika flags or the singing of German or Nazi songs of the sort mentioned above in either the Mooragh or any other internment camp, I would be interested to hear your story. If you have any photographs of such flags being flown, etc, that would also be of interest.
This appeal is made in the context of ongoing research into Manx-German contacts in the 1930s/40s.

Dr GEORGE BRODERICK
Universität Mannheim