In 1915, on the edge of the island of Urk, there was a wooden barrack, enclosed by barbed wire. It housed Belgian, French and English officers who previously fought in the Great War. They had crossed the Dutch border and the neutral Netherlands had to intern them according to the Peace Treaty of 1907. At the time, there were various camps throughout the Netherlands where soldiers from warring countries were interned. Officers who posed a flight risk were banished to Camp Urk, which was known as the Elba of the Zuiderzee, as Devil’s Island.
The weather conditions on the small island were harsh, the Urkers were pro-German and the officers were bored to death. Their main goal: to escape. Mandy van Dijk follows five internees from the war front to the Netherlands.
Devil’s Island is an exciting story about these five men, their attempts to escape and their relationship with the islanders, for whom the foreign soldiers represent an invasion of their lives with a war they’re not fighting in. The story of this small almost forgotten camp brings to life the great history of the First World War in the Netherlands.
Mandy van Dijk is a journalist and writer. She was raised in Urk and when she first heard about the internment camp she was intrigued. Devil’s Island (Duivelseiland) is her debut.
“Urk is endlessly fascinating! Has everything been said and written about it? No! Mandy van Dijk portrays the island in WW1 as our own Alcatraz – complete with spectacular escapes. Clever book. Go and read it!”
- Frank Westerman
“A fascinating reconstruction about the Great War on the small island of Urk.”
- Eva Vriend
At this time, the book Duivelseiland is only available in the Dutch language.