dave chats with Author Peter Monteath a Professor of History at Flinders University in Adelaide about his latest book Captured Lives.

What was life really like for prisoners of war and civilian internees detained during the two world wars? In the new book Captured Lives (NLA Publishing $39.99, ), author and historian Peter Monteath provides a captivating visual look behind the barbed wire veil that was drawn around people deemed a threat to Australia’s security. Civilians from enemy nations, even if born in Australia, were subjects of suspicion and locked away in internment camps. Many were long-term residents of Australia, had contributed economically and brought new skills and know-how to the nation. For them, being interned was bewildering.


Captured Lives covers over 30 of the main internment and prisoner-of-war camps that were spread across Australia during the two world wars, and includes over 40 text boxes that focus on particular events and various civilian internees, prisoners of war, officials and others. Readers learn fascinating personal stories, such as:


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  • German-born Edmund Resch, a naturalised Australian and resident for over 50 years, and a pioneer of the very Australian activity of beer brewing, who was interned in 1917
  • Kurt Wiese, a prisoner of war for five years, honed his illustrating skills by sketching fauna and cartoons to amuse fellow prisoners, leading to an international career as an illustrator of hundreds of books
  • Reinhard Waldsax, a trained dentist, found himself in the Hay camp with many patients, but only rudimentary equipment. He carried out hundreds of fillings and extractions with improvised equipment such as a chisel and wooden mallet


Richly illustrated, with many never before seen photographs and sketches, Captured Lives provides an insider’s look into what life was like for prisoners of war.