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Hunger Strikes in British Prisons, 1913-1940  > 
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Hunger Strike in British Prisons 1913-1940


There were 48 recorded strikes in 1936, spread over 15 prisons. As the tables below show, a large majority of the strikes lasted less than a week. In addition, there was only one strike for which the prisoner refused to give a reason. More than three quarters of strikes were over complaints about punishment or prison diet and other conditions. Well over half of the strikes (30 out of 48) have no record of force feeding.

There is no evidence of a coordinated group strike in 1936. By far the longest strike was carried out by William H.S. Johnson, who was serving 3 years in Dartmoor for shopbreaking and larceny. Johnson started a hunger strike on October 15, as both a protest against his punishment and an attempt to call attention to his grievances. His strike lasted for 68 days, during which officials used a stomach tube to force feed him 150 times. In January 1937, Johnson went on a second strike for 8 days. While he gave no reason, officials believed he was seeking a transfer to another prison. Officials force-fed him 14 times, once again by way of stomach tube. 

One curious case from 1935 was that of Ivan Krevitz. Krevitz was sent to Hull by the Immigration Office after being denied  permission to land according to the 1920 Aliens Order. This amendment to the 1919 Aliens Restriction Act further limited the rights of aliens in Britain, and granted officials greater authority to detain or deport aliens. On December 30, 1936, Krevitz went on a 3 day hunger strike, claiming chest pains and that he had been ill in New York. Krevitz went on a second 3 day strike a few days later, which officials believed was an attempt to get out of prison. In both strikes officials used a cup to feed Krevitiz once per day.    

Duration of Strikes

This table includes the 47 strikes for which there was a definite start and end date. 

There was 1 strike for which the length could not be determined, due to an unknown start date.

Notable Strikes, 1936

William H.S. Johnson

William H.S. Johnson First Strike
William H.S. Johnson Second Strike

Ivan Krevitz

Ivan Krevitz First Strike
Ivan Krevitz Second Strike