Photo Corner: WWI Internees at Alexandra Palace, London, England

Friedrich Jakob Hähn, while interned in WW1 at Alexandra Palace, London, between 1915 - 1919I thought this photograph was interesting and with the coming 90th anniversary of Armistice Day, appropriate. Thanks for sharing it Hilary! Click on the image to enlarge it.

I thought this photo might be of interest?  On the right, seated at rear, is my German great-grandfather Friedrich Jakob Hähn, while interned in WW1 at Alexandra Palace, London, between 1915 – 1919.

He was born 1875 in Gehlweiler, Hunsruck, Rhineland, Germany.  This mountainous region is the location of the seminal German TV series “The Heimat”, which featured the 16th century bridge at Gehlweiler in early episodes.  1890s onwards, Friedrich and his younger brothers Peter, Adam and Heinrich successively emigrated from Weiler bei Monzingen, where the family cultivated vineyards and their father was a miller, to London where twenty years earlier numerous of his mother Eva Wermann’s siblings and their children, and her own mother had moved.

Many of them became extremely successful bakers in north London: my great-grandfather’s shop premises existed in Newington Green Road, Islington, until 1969.  But, in 1915 this halted when Enemy Aliens, non-naturalised Germans, were interned, in Friedrich’s case for four years until 1919.  Contrary to the rosy picture painted of an internees life in an episode of BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” which explored the German ancestry of British entertainer Julian Clary, life in Alexandra Palace was reportedly harsh: my grandfather remembered taking food for his father as the camp commander seemed intent on keeping the men in his charge on very low rations.  We don’t know who the other Germans are in the photo, but they all look rather stricken. 

Best wishes,
Hilary Hähn, West Sussex, UK

21 thoughts on “Photo Corner: WWI Internees at Alexandra Palace, London, England

  1. Hello again Hilary,
    I’ve been chatting in the family again and I made a mistake in my post. I should have asked if any relatives had a patisserie shop in Tottenham? However the surname of the family (who were interned in the Ally Pally) was not Hahn.

  2. Hello,

    My GReat-grandfather’s shop was in Newington Green Road (sadly, now a Ladbrokes Betting shop!), Islington (later run by his son William Hahn)… I think all his other sons had bakery shops – Hector, somewhere in Wood Green area!; my grandfather Frederick in Balham I believe. They were caterers/ bakers and did make patisserie items as well.

  3. We have some other German names linked to our famiy which may ring a bell? Scholple (he was an in-law – also had a bakery at some stage), Wermann, Venn?

  4. Hello Hilary,
    The family I am writing about were interned in The Ally Pally and my grandma (no German connection at all, except for friendship) used to take supplies to them. Apparently their name was Bright(sp.)….(mann?) and the whole family were interned – father, mother and 2 daughters, one of which was my grandma’s friend.

  5. That’s very interesting – as I’d always understood that it was only German men (of potential fighting age) who were interned! I’d love to know where any records might be of internees (PRO, National Archives, London Metropolitan Archives?)… but, ‘taking supplies’ adds weight to the anecdote that internees were kept short of food.

  6. There is some information about the conditions in Alexandra Palace thru the British Association for Local History website:

    “…Several London cemeteries feature strikingly cheap-looking memorials erected by the local authorities above the mass graves of civilian victims – mainly air raid casualties – of the twentieth-century World wars, but perhaps the most economical-looking monument of all, in the Great Northern London Cemetery in the London Borough of Barnet, is one erected by the British central government and has an inscription in German: Hier ruhen die genannten 51 deutschen Maenner die waehrend des Weltkrieges in Zivilgefangenschaft gestorben sind. (Here rest in God the named 51 German men who died during the World War in civil imprisonment.) It is the principal surviving relic of the time when, during the 1914-1918 War, Alexandra Palace was a concentration camp for male enemy aliens of military age…..” read more at this link:

  7. Yes, I’ve started looking for lists etc for confirmation, as I was suprised to hear about a whole family. Thank you for the one above!
    I have gathered several links to information but haven’t had time to follow them up yet. I’ll post them tonight.

  8. My Goodness, what a resource to find .. how amazing to see this book .. given that ‘German’ history in Britain is usually so ‘invisible’ … thank you so much for posting this link!

    Just looking at the 100s of camp beds lined up in Alexandra Palace – in the original photo posted, the “stricken” looks were probably sleep-deprivation!

  9. My Greatgrandfather was interned at Alexandra Palace dated 1.3.1918 according to records from the Red Cross Geneva, His name was Henry Bruns has anybody heard of him, he was also interned at Knockaloe, Peel, Isle of Man.

  10. Can you say where he was resident prior to internment?

    Altho’ I’ve never checked the surname spelling or yet followed this line of research, but I have a Winifred “Brunes” marrying one of my great-grandfather’s sons ..

  11. Sorry .. don’t know what came over me .. it was an

    IRIS Bruns … just checked a couple of BMD births for her children and both give spelling as Bruns

  12. My English paternal grandmother, Jeannette Bongers, had connectins to a German baker, Johannes Lorentz and his wife Kate (nee Sommer), who was also German. Family tradition says that Johannes followed Kate, working as a nanny, to London where he married her and possibly also worked with the Hahns before setting up his own bakery. I have found a possible connection by marriage between the Lorentzes and the Hahns – an 1880 London marriage between a Peter Hahn and a Katharina Lorentz who could have been Johannes’s sister or was related in some other way. I am primarily interested in the story of Johannes’s wife, Kate Sommer, but anything in relation to this professional group is important to me.

    [email protected]

  13. My great-grandfather Friedrich and brothers Adam, Peter and Heinrich Hahn were born 1875, 1875, 1880, 1888 respectively: a generation or so nearly younger than Peter Hahn who married Katharina Sommer in 1886. Friedrich came to UK in 1889 – to stay with his uncle Wilhelm (William) Wermann (i.e., an earlier generation) in north London.

    From 1870 onwards William Wermann and other of his assorted siblings had started coming to London, from Weiler bei Monzingen, as did his mother (and Friedrich’s maternal grandmother Elizabeth Weber).

    I also noted in the 1881 census there’s a Heinrich Lorenz (Baker) from Kirschberg (sic), Germany which could be the same Kirchbrg in the vicinity of Gehlweiler (Hunsruck) where our Hahns originated.

    The earlier (Gehweiler) generation of Hahns included the brothers’ grandfather Peter (Petrus) Jakob Hahn 1801-c1881, whose own known children were female:
    (Katharina, Margareta) and untraceable,
    or male:
    1) Jacobus – whose son Gustave 1884 – c1955 married a Margaret BUNGARD in 1918;
    2) Adam – married a Nanetta LUCHS);
    3) Friedrich Hahn Snr married Elizabeth WERMANN
    who all left Gehweiler (for Cologne, Cologne and Weiler bei Monzingen respectively). I haven’t found another Peter Hahn in those lines yet.

    However, I know from family anecdote that Gustave Hahn – married to Margaret BUNGARD was in contact with his cousins in London! Possibly BUNGARD might be a spelling mistake (I got the surname from a hand drawn family tree) .. that’s the closest I can currently get to a connection with BONGERS?

    Given the strong and extended family communications between the London Hahn/ Wermann clans and their family in Germany – (from 1870 when they started emigrating right through to 2007 when a 3rd cousin of mine died!) I wouldn’t be surprised if there might be a Bungard/ Bongers link?

  14. Hi Hilary,my G/Grandfather Henry Bruns we think came from Germany he married an Ada Billington they lived Athol St Liverpool, Iris could well have been a relative I just dont know. Would you know how I can find out if Henry did live in Germany.

  15. Henry & Ada Bruns + children appear in 1901 census in Liverpool. Henry is recorded as place of birth Germany, and as a “German subject”, i.e., he hadn’t applied for British ‘naturalisation’.

    If he was interned 1914-1919, – do you know when he died? Could he have applied for naturalisation after WW1?

    The place to look for naturaliation applications is the Public records Office at Kew, under the HOME OFFICE (HO referenced files) of “Aliens and Immigration, Denization and Naturalisation, Community Relations, Community Programmes and Equal Opportunities Departments” .. these files can be searched online at the National Archives – but to see the documents either involves a visit or, I believe, for a fee they can be photocopied and sent to you. The 1926 Special Branch report on my great-grandfather gave an absolute goldmine of information. But, as valuable is finding living relatives who have information!

  16. My mother in laws grandmother was Alexandra Ruppersberg, the family had a bakers shop in Islington. Her father came from Germany. They also later had a bakers shop in Ruby Rd, Peckham (off the old kent rd). Her father was George Ruppersberg and her mother Eliza.
    In the 1871 census the family ar living in Islington.
    George Ruppersberg, head age 36, Baker, born Germany.
    Eliza age 28 born in Islington.
    Alexandra age 8, born Southwark.
    William age 6, born Southwark.
    Alfred age 3, born Southwark.
    Arthur age 11 months born Islington.
    There is a family story that one of the brothers was so terrified of being interned that he changed his name to Ridgeway.
    I had trouble finding the family after this as I found most of the family under the surname Ruppersbury.
    Poor people.
    Does anyone know anything of this family.
    Alexandra married Hugh Swan in 1884 but I can’t find her anywhere in the 1881 census!
    Many thanks, what an excellent site!

  17. I have just stumbled on to your site. My Maternal Great-Grandfather was called Hermann Heinrich Emil Muller. Family stories have told me that my Great-Grandfather returned to Germany and left his 14 children orphaned but I wondered if you had any information as to whether he was interned at Ally Pally. My grandmother was sent to Barnados childrens home in Tottenham and had her surname changed to Miller. Her Father was born in Shwelsig Holstein, Germany. I have no trace of him after 1911 when he lived in Tottenham working as silver smith.

  18. Searching for German origin connections
    Hermann Hahn Master Baker,
    Jonas Karl Jung Master Baker-Patissier both born Germany (Wurttemberg/Reiskirchen-Hessen)
    Henry Jacob Schlitz (?Rheinland, Baker)
    all lived various areas East, West and North London and Essex. Hermann Hahn born 1836 married Katharine Reisswich or Reuspig spicemaker born approx.1829 Hessen.
    Jonas Karl Jung b. 1854 Hessen (father Andreas) married Hermann’s daughter Katharine (Anna) at St.Clement Dane’s Church Strand had many children including my grandmother Wilhelmina and son Charles. Katharine (or Anna) died and he married again Margaretha Marie Polanski and had a number of children by her including several daughters, first was Anna born at Gainsborough Lincs. They later had a nursing/children’s home at Langdon Hills, Essex and their daughters moved to Cornwall.
    My grandfather Henry Schlitz/Jacobs interned almost whole of World War 1 on the Isle of Man, one of Hahn family also believed to have been interned but J K Jung was naturalised and was not,I received copy papers from Home Office with details.

    Hermann’s sons included Hermann,Charles and Adolph, bakers and postal workers London. There was another daughter Paulina. Adolph was Major in Royal Engineers Boer War/WW1 Army Post Office/ADC to Lord Kitchener, received the MBE, died at house Katerham, Farnham Common and buried in Farnham Royal Churchyard, had a son Adolph not traced, by Sarah Annie nee BAKER of Streatham. Adolph Sr. was Postmaster at Caterham and other areas in Surrey and opened the first Telephone Exchange at Slough.

    Henry Schlitz died mid 1930s in East London after remarrying (Louisa)and running a general store. Have traced record of his sister Christina Schlitz in 1881 census who married Friedrich Hormel and lived in Camden (a son died) and there is note of sisters Maggi and Step, one sister married a Sonny Frowde. Other family related names Stenning/Kent/Greenaway/Greenwood/ Kattenhorn.

    Connections/descendants sought and queries welcomed.
    Betty, Hereford (member of Anglo German FHS)

  19. My Grandfather Frederick Danzfuss was interned in Alexandra Palace during WW1. He arrived in England in around 1904 with his wife Gertrude (nee Keisler) from Germany (originally from Austria don’t know where)and lived in Acton. He worker as an engineer. He died whilst in Alexandra Palace, I think 1918. Do you know where I can access records to see when he was interned and when he died? Thanks

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