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How British people of German origin were treated during WW1

What's in a 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.


Civilian - someone not in the armed forces

Interned - kept in confinement (imprisoned) during wartime


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

Advertisement published in the local newspaper offering £500 to anyone who could prove that the Hohenreins were not English
Legal notice in Hull newspaper on 4.8.15 stating Charles Henry Hohenrein has changed his name to Charles Henry Ross