Anti-German Sentiment in the First World War

Decision to change his German-sounding name

After the attack, Charles Hohenrein closed the shop temporarily and took out an advert in the local paper offering £500 to anyone who could prove the Hohenreins were not English. In August 1915 Charles Hohenrein hoped to avoid further trouble by changing his family’s surname to Ross (see right-hand images).


The German branch of the Hohenrein family had also suffered when war broke out. In 1914 Charles’s brother George was living in Germany with his family. As George and his son had both been born in Britain they were interned in Ruhleben, a camp established for British civilian prisoners of war. Writing to his brother in November 1914, George said ‘We are well and as comfortable as circumstances will permit’.   


It seems the family couldn’t win: Charles’s business in Hull was attacked because of his German name, while over in Germany his brother George and nephew William were interned as prisoners of war because they were born in Britain.


Glossary:

Civilian - someone not in the armed forces

Interned - kept in confinement (imprisoned) during wartime


Discover more...

  • Watch Hull’s First World War film  to find out how the war affected Christian Wagner, another German pork butcher who founded a shop on Spring Bank with his partner Friedrich Kress.

  • Read an interview with Thomas Thorpe  (see link below)  who was a child in Hull at the time and describes the anti-German feeling in the city.

See the teachers' notes page for curriculum links, further images and discussion and activity ideas.




 
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