Lofthouse Park Case Study 2: Otto Froitzheim and Oscar Kreuzer, Tennis Champions

Otto Froitzheim and Oscar Kreuzer were two championship tennis players who had represented the German team against the Australians in the Davis Cup just before the war. They had been playing in the United States at the time, having been beaten by Anthony Wilding and Norman Brookes in one of the preliminary stages of the Davis Cup. News of their internment was reported in January 1916, when a letter sent to Miss Clare Cassell from Otto Froitzheim was published in The Pittsburg Press telling readers of the circumstances surrounding Froitzheim and Kreuzer’s detention in 1914.

After losing against Wilding and Brookes at the Allegheny Country Club, in Sewickley, near Pittsburgh, Froitzheim and Kreuzer had gone to New York to arrange passage back to Germany – eventually booking passage on an Italian steam ship, the America, after a previous attempt to cross the Atlantic was abandoned when their ship had been forced to return to New York after war had been declared between Britain and Germany and the Royal Navy had stopped the ship just outside the three-mile zone of New York Harbour.

A similar search was conducted on the America – with the Royal Navy taking names of German passengers before allowing the ship to proceed. It was when the ship reached Gibraltar that German subjects were taken off and placed in the prison on the island. After spending some months at Gibraltar Froitzheim and Kreuzer were taken by ship to Britain and then to Lofthouse Camp. Otto Froitzheim – who was also a Lieutenant in the German Army – was given the number 1198. He was later transferred to the officers’ camp at Donington Hall on account of his officer status.


Oscar Kreuzer 1912


Image source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, ark:/12148/btv1b6918057d

© Claudia Sternberg and David Stowe 2016

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