On November 6, 1914 – some four months after the outbreak of WWI – all male British citizens between the ages of 17 and 65 living in Germany were apprehended and sent to an internment camp outside of Berlin. The internment of civilians was common during World War I; however, what was not common was what the internees at Ruhleben – or Ruhlebenites as they came to be known – accomplished during their incarceration.
The Harvard Law School Library’s Historical & Special Collections holds two collections of internment camp materials for the study of the history of Ruhleben: the Maurice Ettinghausen collection and the John Cecil Masterman collection, both of which have been digitized. Through manuscripts, newsletters, artwork, and photographs, these holdings illustrate the creative and social output of the Ruhleben prisoners
The original Ruhleben Internment Camp exhibit was displayed in the library's Caspersen Room, but a more extensive digital exhibit is available online. The digital exhibit was a collaborative effort that drew on a diverse group of library staff.