During Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s, tens of thousands of German and Austrian Jews escaped and found refuge in Britain. After war broke out and paranoia gripped the English nation, Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered that these innocent asylum seeks – so-called “enemy aliens” – be interned. Peter Fleischmann, who had escaped Berlin on a Kindertransport, was one such asylum seeker. He was sent to Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man, where he found one of history’s most astounding prison populations: renowned professors, composers, journalists, and artists. Together they created a thriving cultural community, complete with art exhibitions, lectures, musical performances, and poetry readings. The artists welcomed Peter as their pupil and forever changed the course of his life. Meanwhile, suspicions grew that a real spy was hiding among them — one connected to a vivacious heiress from Peter’s past.
Simon Parkin’s new book The Island of Extraordinary Captives: A Painter, A Poet, an Heiress, and a Spy in a World War II British Internment Camp draws from unpublished first-person accounts and newly declassified government documents to detail this untold story.
Simon Parkin is an award-winning British journalist and author. A contributing writer for The New Yorker, he has also written for The Guardian, The Observer, The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, New Statesmen, the BBC, and other publications. He is the author of two prior books of nonfiction, A Game of Birds and Wolves and Death by Video Game, and his work has been featured in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He was named a finalist in the Foreign Press Association Media Awards and is the recipient of two awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. Parkin lives in West Sussex, England.