Rudolf Hartmann - Lutheran Pastor Knockaloe 1915-1917

Pastor Rudolf Hartmann

Pastor R. Hartmann (1882-1959)born in Berlin having studied philosophy and theology in Berlin, Freiburg, Jena, Grenoble and also a summer course at Oxford in 1903, came to England in 1913 to minister to the newly opened German Lutheran Church in Birmingham where he noted the community consisted mainly of adults - merchants, businessman, scholars and others interested in England. When war was declared many of his flock were sent in November 1914 to the recently established internment camp at Knockaloe - Pastor A. Rosenkranz of Liverpool requested the authorities to allow Pastor Hartmann to act as Chaplain which post he commenced in February 1917. The invitation from Government Office was dated 27 Jan 1915 signed by B Sargeaunt offering him free board and lodgings as well as a small remuneration of £1 per week - duties to commence on the 1st of February. By 30th March he was residing c/o Mrs Clarke, Patrick near Peel as there is a letter addressed to him there from Col Madoc turning down his offer to provide some services in Douglas Camp at Easter [4th April 1915] "as there is a man in the camp who is perfectly able to conduct the necessary services". He was present at a marriage at Peel Registry Office on Saturday 13th March 1915 between an unnamed German internee who pre-war was a chef in London and a "buxom German lady" [IoM Examiner 20 Mar 1915]- the pair were reported as having paraded the Peel streets on the Saturday and also on the Sunday (the press also noted this was the second such marriage involving internees from Knockaloe the earlier one some weeks prior involving an Austrian and an English bride).

There is a summary note in the Camp Letter book originating from the Government Secretary [B Sargeaunt] dated 9th April 1915 "Pastor Hartmann is allowed to exchange duties with Pastor Rosenkranz of Liverpool 15.4.1915 to 21.4.1915 and then may proceed to Birmingham for 2 weeks on leave". There is also a note of a letter dated 10th April 1915 received from the police that they were uneasy about Pastor Hartmann getting parcels sent to private addresses - reply nothing proved all parcels would be censored.

Within a few weeks, post the sinking of the Lusitania in early May 1915, the situation changed completely, as the Home Office decided to intern all enemy aliens - Hartmann found himself as Knockaloe internee number 5434 and resident in Camp I Compound 1 - still presumably receiving the free board and lodging but apparently not the £1 per week as such payments were now via the American Y.M.C.A. with Bishop Bury(of London) handling the distribution - who apparently having tried to pay £10 for June and July had been informed that "the authorities would not allow Pastor Hartmann to have more than £1 per week".

Hartmann had started a newspaper Werden [words] with the 1st edition intended for Easter 1915 but it ceased soon afterwards. In the first year of the camp all printing needed to be done outside - W.J. Clarke, Michael St, Peel would appear to have done several of the surviving programmes etc but with obvious difficulties in handling the German accented characters. As Newton mentions in his paper it was the closure of Stobs and the transfer of a German typeface along with experienced printers and journalists to Knockaloe that eased matters. Much of the need for programmes, advertisements of concerts etc would appear to have been cyclostyled. However the camp soon developed with several skilled engravers etc.

I have two drafts of letters - presumably sent to the Camp Commandant:

Original charcoal - Pastor Hartmann
(presumably at the door of his room)
Knockaloe, Camp 1, Comp 1
November 5th 1915
When I resolved of my own free will upon
being detained here in order so to be a spiritual help
to the prisoners the Commandant appreciated my
need for a quiet place to study and mentally to work
in by ceding to me the room at the outside of the
kitchen corresponding to the library in the second com=
pound. As the time grows cold and being seated at
my work for a great deal of the day I begin to feel
chilly in my room. I therefore should like to beg the
same favour with the librarian and to have a stove
put up in my room. As this place is my only reward
for my work in the interest of the Camp I should be
very much obliged to you to see this small request granted.
Sear Sir Your obedient servant
R Hartmann, Pastor
Knockaloe Aliens Det Camp
Camp 1 Comp 1
November 10th 1915.
In January of this year I got the permission of the
government to procede to the Isle of Man and to have charge
of the religious care of my fellow country men. Since then I
have been working in the interest of the camp, finding the kind
assistance of the commandant and the subcommandants in my
great task as only represenative of the German Established Church
and ordained minister of our Protestant State Church. I feel
sorry that the religious party in Camp IV is only represented by a
Baptist minister, who as sectarian and unordained is regarded
as layman by our Church ; but feeling that it is probably beyond my
power to take more services over on Sunday mornings I have
to satisfy myself with the idea, that services are conducted at all.
But now the end of our Church year drawing near, Sunday
next being a day of penitence and Sunday 21st being a day of special
remembrance of death. I should like to protest my conscience
towards the members of my church in your camp in giving some
religious addresses weekday evenings in the different com=
pounds from the 16th to the 20th and preparing by this the way
for a communion service for Camp IV. As all the other congregations
Jews, Catholics, Baptists have full liberty to arrange for
their religious needs I hope that at this time of the year the largest
body of German Protestants, the members of the Established
Church will find satisfaction for their religious needs. I know
from all the other camps how much these services and addresses
have contributed to uplift the spiritual conditions of the
interned. Trusting you may take my humble petition into
favourable consideration.
I remain Sir
Your obedient servant
R Hartmann Pastor

The Report on the Lutheran Chuch Community, presumably authored by Hartmann gives some indication of his work and the difficulties encountered.

Sketch by Heinrick Schmitz of a funeral procession
Pastor Hartmann is shown behind the guards leading the mourners

Some other difficulties are given in a letter:

The Undersigned beg leave to submit to your
Lordship some of the points touched on in a pervious report.
but up to now still unsettled, respecting his labours as
chaplain to the P.O.W's 's at Knockaloe ,

1). that he be pemitted to visit the hospitals in
Camps 2 & 3, including the Isolation Hospital (at present only
Camp 1 Hospital has granted permission about once every fortnight
in connection with his weekly meetings

2) that he receives in good time due notice of any
burial service he is to hold (repeatedly, it has happened that
he had to officiate almost at a minutes notice, having no time
for preparation and no indications of personality to go by)

3).that he be granted once a month a a pass for other
camps and compounds where members of his former congregation
(Birmingham) are interned.

NEW POINTS 1) that besides the preached word he may be allowed
to publish his sermons for distribution among P.O.W. who do not come to church

2).to publish a religious weekly paper in connection
with the Rev.Pocock, missioniaries of the Basle Mission Society,
and several members of Y.M.C.A..& S A.

3), that greater facilitites be given, for religious
services and intercourse among church workers.

He had made a request for repatriation in January 1917 for which as an ordained clergyman he was eligible, his brother was killed in the war on 4 April 1917 aged 22 - he was the comfort of his mother who was now alone and ill, thus he again requested an exchange of prisoners as he felt his mother had priority over his care for the community, to which request the British government agreed but wanted the repatriation of Reverend H M Williams, British Chaplain in Berlin in return, which led to some months of delay until October 1917, when after he repeated his request he was repatriated via Tilbury and Rotterdam on the 15 October 1917. On his release and return to Germany he produced a short book Bilder aus dem Gefangenenlager Knockaloe in England [Pictures from the prison camp Knockaloe in England - tho no actual pictures or photographs were included in the 24pp book - a better title would be Scenes from.. ] which gives an account of the day-to-day life of internees. Otto Schimming mentions meeting him at Rotterdam station on 12 November 1917 where "His job on the journey is to look after the women and children" from which it would appear he was in the same batch of repatriated internees though probably on a different boat as in the preface to his 1918 pamphlet he states "since 14 November I have been once more back in Germany".

He wrote a small pamphlet in 1918 and organised an exhibition of the work done by internees at Knockaloe, explaining in the preface that it was "intended to be a straightforward attempt to give family members of our prisoners in Knockaloe an impression of our life over there" and that he wrote it as "a new post is already holding me fast and making it impossible for me to give lectures about my travels."

Married Theodora(of Loen) in 1923 and had 4 children - died 13 Mar 1959 at Bad Berka, Thuringen.


Hartmann, R (1918). Bilder aus dem Gefangenenlager Knockaloe in England. Laemmle S Müllerschvn: Bad Nassau, Lahn. pp24


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2018