Lofthouse Park Case Study 3: Hermann J. Held, Law Student

Hermann J. Held was one of a number of German students and tutors detained as enemy aliens when war broke out in August 1914. He was sent to Lofthouse Camp on 21 October 1914 and transferred to Knockaloe Camp on the Isle of Man in April 1918 when Lofthouse Park was given over to the internment of German POWs.   

He had been studying for a law degree in Freiburg in the summer of 1914 and had visited England and the Squire Library at Cambridge to consult documents needed to finish his PhD. He had previously visited Cambridge in 1912 so was not unfamiliar with the area. In 1914 he was to visit Professor Lassa Oppenheim teaching International Law at Cambridge – the contact at Cambridge put forward from Dr. Otto Keollreutter at Freiburg.

What is quite remarkable is that Herman Held’s experience only came to light when a German lawyer studying for his doctorate in the 1990s found a number of documents which had lain undiscovered since Held’s death almost thirty years earlier. Amongst the documents were also photographs and receipts relating to Lofthouse Camp and a lengthy account dedicated to the barbed-wire school which was run at Lofthouse Park, in which Herman Held had been heavily involved from its inception.

The camp could boast 67 lecturers amongst the 1500 inmates interned at Lofthouse in 1916. The number would be almost halved where thirty-three of its lecturers were repatriated a year later. Some of the names mentioned in the documents which Held left include Professor Dr. Herman Waetjen, who was the College Principal (History: Freiburg), Dr. Huelsenbeck, who taught Business Studies, F. Merz, H. Ostheide, H.A. Jordan, Mr. Kaiser, and Mr. Morawski. The latter two persons interned in the West Camp and South Camp respectively. The location of the Office of Scientific Further Education was in the North Camp according to one interpretive account.

Herman Held’s experience of Lofthouse Park has proved an invaluable source to historians. His experience originally published in an article for the Anglo-German Society in 1999, and the same society to which the German lawyer who was studying for his own doctorate submitted his remarkable find.

Herman Held was born in 1890. He died in 1963.

Additional Information: Through further research it is possible to identify Mr. H. Ostheide in this account. This is Mr. Albert Wilhelm Heinrich Ostheide – also known as Mr Harry Ostheide – who was a member of the Leeds Naturalists’ Club and Scientific Association, which held its meeting at the Leeds Law Institute in the early 1910s. Harry Ostheide is recorded as a Manager (Textiles) in the 1911 Census. His obituary in November 1933 states that he was ‘Representative for Great Britain of the Unionmatex, Berlin’. Mr. Ostheide was the owner of a textile machinery business in Neville Street, Leeds. He survived his British-born wife Edith Alice by two years, and lived at Newton Grove, in Leeds.

Notes: Leisure and recreation also features in some interpretative accounts where tennis courts, football pitches, a bowling green, athletic track, and a gymnasium are mentioned. Mention is also made of the theatrical group which had toured Knockaloe with two of its plays in one interpretive account.

Sources

Mark, G. Prisoners of War in British Hands during WWI: A Study of their History, the Camps and their Mail. (The Postal History Society, 2007), pp. 139-142.

Walling, J. ‘Held – Prisoner at Lofthouse Camp.’ In Mitteilungsblatt 50 (Anglo-German Family History Society), December 1999.

Wood, P. ‘The Zivilinternierunglager at Lofthouse Park’. In: Kate Taylor (Ed) Aspects of Wakefield: Discovering Local History, 3. (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Wharncliffe Books, 2001), pp. 97-107.

© David Stowe 2016

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