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Internment Camp at Crystal Palace


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Can anyone tell me what conditions were like at Crystal Palace internment camp.

I’m interested because an Anglophile German acquaintance of Kitchener and relation by marriage of Sir Eldon Gorst was sent there. I refer to André von Dumreicher, who was head of the Egyptian Camel Corps until 1910. After the start of the war Kitchener protected him (Gorst had died before the war began), but after Kitchener died (June 1916) von Dumreicher was given the choice of being interned in Malta or in England. Dumreicher had an English wife; he chose England.

I’m wondering if Crystal Palace was for low-risk internees, perhaps a comfortable open prison. Can anyone help?

Regards,

Russell

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Russell.

Wikipedia says:

"During World War I, it was used as a naval training establishment under the name of HMS Victory VI, informally known as HMS Crystal Palace. More than 125,000 men from the Royal Naval Division, Royal Naval Volunteers and Royal Naval Air Force were trained for war at Victory VI."

Was it rather Alexandra Palace which was NOT a "comfortable open prison"?

British Association for Local History.

"Alexandra Palace as a concentration camp."

http://www.balh.co.uk/lhn/article.php?file...vol1iss87-6.xml

Kath.

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I too suspect that Russell may be asking about Alexandra Palace,which has five pages (with a postal history bias) in Graham Mark's Prisoners of War in British Hands during WWI. Crystal Palace is not mentioned.

On the outbreak of war, Alexandra Palace was used as a barracks for King Edward's Horse, whose mounts were picketed on the tennis courts. It then housed Belgian refugees up to March 1915, when the building was taken over as an aliens' camp. Its civilian occupants would have originated from enemy countries and many would have been living in Britain when war broke out.

An inspection by the US Embassy on May 21, 1915 found 1,286 German and 100 Austrian internees. The German Government complained about the conditions there, but their allegations were rebutted by the Foreign Office. (See National Archives FO 383/33.)

A report by a neutral writer appeared in The Times of December 21, 1915. Members of many local libraries can access this on-line, otherwise a kind Pal may look it up for you. Another report appeared in the Daily Mail of January 13, 1916. The Times of September 20, 1915 reported that 75% of the 4,000 occupants were German (a total that Mark queries).

The inmates occupied themselves with activities such as carpentry, shoe-making, tailoring, and there were 200 allotment gardens.

On September 2, 1915, Johannes Schmidt escaped and made a "home run" to Germany.

After the Armistice was declared, the Palace was used as a collecting and holding centre for internees, presumably prior to release. At the end of May 1919 the building was taken over as offices for Government departments, the internees being moved to Frith Hill.

During the war 51 internees died, and there is a memorial to them at the entrance to the Great Northern Cemetery at Southgate.

Perhaps an internee's life at the Palace wasn't too bad, if irksome, and the location was reasonably convenient for visits by families.

It is misleading to describe the Palace as a "concentration camp", as Kath's link does, with its WWII connotations. During the Great War it merely meant that people of a certain type were concentrated together in one place.

Moonraker

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Kath & Moonraker,

Thank you both. You're quite right -- von Dumreicher was sent to Alexandra Palace.

Kath, the link was just what I needed.

Thanks again,

Russell

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The Anglo-German Family History Society have published an A4 booklet on the Alexandra Palace camp

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The Anglo-German Family History Society have published an A4 booklet on the Alexandra Palace camp

Any idea of how to get hold of a copy?

Bruce

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Alan and Bruce,

Thanks for the reference. Alan. I see that "Civilian Internment in Britain during the First World War" (£7.00) is available via the AGFHS website.

Regards,

Russell

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Centurion,

Thank you. I've printed off the Archive's notice and I'll check out relevant files when I'm next over there. I like to think that Dumreicher would have been allowed to live outside, but it's unlikely. My sources say he wasn't released until 1919 (or even 1920), and he left England for good once he got out. I'll be interested to see what info about this is at Kew.

Regards,

Russell

Centurion,

Thank you. I've printed off the Archive's notice and I'll check out relevant files when I'm next over there. I like to think that Dumreicher would have been allowed to live outside, but it's unlikely. My sources say he wasn't released until 1919 (or even 1920), and he left England for good once he got out. I'll be interested to see what info about this is at Kew.

Regards,

Russell

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Any idea of how to get hold of a copy?

Bruce

I have one on my shelves if you want to look at it sometime! Otherwise see the other post

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Doug Johnson

Russell,

In addition to Hoschke's diary and Rudolph Rocker's essay published by the AGFHS and Graham Mark's book already mentioned, there are lots of photographs in "German Prisoners in Great Britain" which I believe is now available on the internet for free. If you can read German " Die Mannerinsel" is an account by F L Dunbar – Kalckreuth, Published by Paul Lift Verlag; Leipzig; 1940, relating to Alexandra Palace, Knockaloe and Douglas.

Generally it was not an open prison but subject to the same petty rules etc that all PoWs complained about. However, unlike PoWs, many internees had wives and families on the outside who visited them and brought them food.

Doug

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There is a thread elsewhere about the oldest casualty.

My contender would be linked here. Robert Sandilands Frowd-Walker attended Brentwood School, and eventually joined the Malay States Guides, Indian Army, having gone out there as a rubber planter.

After retirement, he came home, but spent the Great War, until his death, with the rank of Lt-General and a CMG, at the age of 68 on 16.5.17, as the Commandant of the Alexander Palace POW Camp (that is how it is described by the CWGC). I would have thought that it would be better described as an internment camp.

He is buried in St. Katherine's Churchyard in Knockholt.

Bruce

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Doug,

Thank you for filling out my source list. That’s brilliant! After reading your message I found “German Prisoners in GB” on-line. For the other material you and others have mentioned I’ll check out the German Historical Institute here in London – they’re always helpful.

From the pictures in “GP in GB” I conclude it probably wasn’t that bad if you were a captured 20-yr old soldier. But for a 55-year old who had worked in harmony with the British in Egypt for 15 + years, it must have been painful. One Englishman took a small step in making up for it years later. Dumreicher’s 95-year old son told me told me that in WWII Vice-Admiral Royle invited father and son on board HMS Ark Royal, when it was in port at Alexandria. They were given red-carpet treatment because Admiral Royle’s brother (died 1918 RFC) had worked with Dumreicher in the Coastguard Camel Corps before WWI.

Regards,

Russell

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Bruce,

Didn’t understand why Robert Sandilands Frowd-Walker would have been contender for oldest casualty... ???

Russell

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Russell

He was nearly 69 when he died in uniform. I hope I live that long.

:P

Bruce

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Russell

He was nearly 69 when he died in uniform. I hope I live that long.

:P

Bruce

Ah but was he a casualty in the sense of died as a direct result of the war? Not in the commemorated sense which includes death by any cause whilst serving

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Bruce,

I share Centurion's doubts re Frowd-Walker. Concise Oxford Dict. (9th edition): casualty - a person killed or injured during a war or accident.

Might be stretching things to include someone who keels over of old age... Perhaps he was "cut dead" socially by unhappy inmates.

Regards,

Russell

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Doug Johnson

Bruce,

"After retirement, he came home, but spent the Great War, until his death, with the rank of Lt-General and a CMG, at the age of 68 on 16.5.17, as the Commandant of the Alexander Palace POW Camp (that is how it is described by the CWGC). I would have thought that it would be better described as an internment camp."

The term for all prisoners was often "prisoners of war" even those who we now term internees. PoWs were also stated as interned, all in PoW camps though the civilian camps were also termed as civilian camps, depending on who is writing it.

Semantics seems to be more of a modern invention.

Doug

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