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Box containing shell necklace and spare shells from Rushen Internment Camp

Date made: 1940

Maker: unknown

Description: Lindt chocolate box containing shell necklaces and spare shells for making necklaces. There are price tags in the box for the necklaces and shell.s The box and contents belonged to Marie Rosenberg, who was interned at Rushen Camp in the Isle of Man in 1940. It is believed that some of the necklaces were made by Marie, and she brought them with her on her release to Cambridge to sell on behalf of the service exchange.

Austrian born Marie Rosenberg (internee number 2896) was working as a fresh water research biologist in Windermere before her arrest and internment at Rushen Camp on the Isle of Man in 1940. She had moved to the UK in 1933. Whilst interned on the Isle of Man it was believed she worked at the marine biological station in Port Erin and became friends with Ruth Borchard, one of the founder members of the Service Exchange which operated in the camp. Under the exchange work receipts, ‘service tokens’, were exchanged for goods or services. Essentially an artificial economy was established to provide internees with an income. These tokens were made from cutting up thousands of cornflake boxes and putting their rubber stamp on. At its height the Exchange employed over a thousand women, from occasional jobs to full time. By winter 1940 the rationing of material together with the increasing release of internees meant the scheme was unsustainable, and was finally liquidated in November 1941.

Marie Rosenberg was released in January 1941, but as a Category C ‘enemy alien’ was not able to return to Windermere, instead she was permitted to continue as an employee though based in Cambridge. Whilst in Cambridge, she and a number of fellow released internees continued to operate the Service Exchange seemingly bringing with them materials made in Rushen Camp to sell in Cambridge. We can see from the handwritten ‘Service Exchange Cash Book – Cambridge March 11 1941’ maintained by Marie Rosenberg the types of objects being sold in Cambridge. These include a good many shell necklaces, macramé belts, raffia animals and hats.

The box of shells, together with a cardigan, service exchange tokens, the Cambridge Cash Book and other internment related archives were donated by Marie Rosenberg’s daughter in 2023.

Materials: shell

Object name: necklace

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2023-0044/2

Subject tags : #ww2internmentmuseumcollections


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