Igersheimer, Walter W. 1917-

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Igersheimer, Walter W. 1917-


Born June 23, 1917, in Germany; son of Josef Igersheimer (an ophthalmologist); immigrated to the United States, 1943.


Home—Corvallis, OR.


Yale University, New Haven, CT, professor.


Blatant Injustice: The Story of a Jewish Refugee from Nazi Germany Imprisoned in Britain and Canada during World War II, McGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2005.


Noted for his pioneering work in group therapy, Walter W. Igersheimer is a retired Yale University professor of clinical psychiatry. In 1933, he and his parents fled Nazi Germany. While Igersheimer's parents moved to Turkey and then the United States, Walter traveled to Great Britain. There he continued his studies and ultimately entered medical school. In 1940, in the midst of anti-German paranoia, Igersheimer—who, at that time, was a medical student treating wounded British soldiers—was arrested. Thus begins Igersheimer's 2005 memoir, Blatant Injustice: The Story of a Jewish Refugee from Nazi Germany Imprisoned in Britain and Canada during World War II.

Despite being classified by the British government as a "Refugee from Nazi Oppression" posing no risk to national security, Igersheimer, along with several thousand other low-risk internees (most of whom were German Jews like Igersheimer) was grouped with seven thousand high-risk German prisoners of war and shipped to a Canadian internment camp. There, Igersheimer and his fellow refugees entered a political noman's land: Since they were not prisoners of war, they were not covered by the Geneva Convention and were thus subjected to degrading treatment and substandard facilities. Since Canada was only the custodian of these prisoners, it could not release them unless they already had visas. But, since they had been transferred as prisoners, the United States would not issue visas until Britain had formally dropped charges against them, and Britain would not do so in absentia.

Igersheimer ultimately had to have himself released to Cuba in order to be reunited with his parents in Boston, which a reviewer for the Canadian Military History Book Review Supplement noted was "just a day's drive from where he was interned" in Canada. Reviewing the memoir for H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, Patricia Kollander wrote: "This book is gripping and clearly written. It is also unusual because Igersheimer wrote about his experiences as they were taking place, rather than from the distance of several decades, as is more commonly the case with World War II memoirs. The reader can sense the indignation, frustration and helplessness that young Igersheimer felt." Sara Parkes, writing for Esprit de Corps, concluded that this memoir is significant because it "gives a not-so-pleasant taste of Canadian failures during the Second World War."



Canadian Book Review Annual, January 1, 2005, J.L. Granatstein, review of Blatant Injustice: The Storyof a Jewish Refugee from Nazi Germany Imprisoned in Britain and Canada during World War II, p. 54.

Canadian Historical Review, September 1, 2006, Irving Abella, review of Blatant Injustice, p. 503.

Canadian Journal of History, September 22, 2006, Georg G. and Wilma A. Iggers, review of Blatant Injustice, p. 447.

Canadian Literature, autumn, 2007, Adrienne Kertzer, "Shocking and Senseless."

Canadian Military History Book Review Supplement, spring, 2007, review of Blatant Injustice.

Esprit de Corps, October 1, 2005, Sara Parkes, review of Blatant Injustice, p. 43.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (July 1, 2006), Patricia Kollander, review of Blatant Injustice.

McGill-Queen's University Press Web site,http://mqup.mcgill.ca/ (May 17, 2008), overview of Blatant Injustice.