Bericht
über die
Evangelische Kirchengemeinde
des
Kriegsgefangenen Lagers Knockaloe I.O.M.

 

A Lithographed history of the work of the Lutheran Pastors at Knockaloe was produced - dated January 1918 but probably produced by Pastor Rudolf Hartmann prior to his departure from England in December 1917.

Prof Gerald Newton kindly provided me with the following translation - the original lithographed pages are

Report concerning the Protestant Church Community of the Aliens' Detention Camp Knockaloe, I.o.M.

History of the Camp

The civilian internment camp at Knockaloe, near Peel, on the small island of Man, in the middle of the Irish Sea, was set up as a second camp, additional to the camp at Douglas which had been in existence since September 1914. The first transports of 450 men each arrived from Frimley on 16 November 1914, and these were joined by smaller groups from Douglas. There had been a Chaplain in the Douglas Camp from the very beginning, and sometimes there had even been two, but Knockaloe was without spiritual care of any sort.

Pastor Rosenkranz of Liverpool, who was allowed to visit both of the camps, which at that time each contained around 2000 men, consulted with the authorities in question and in January made a request to Pastor Hartmann of Birmingham for permission to make himself available for the work in Knockaloe, since even at that time it was planned to expand the capacity of the camp to 6000. When this Chaplain took up his official post on 3 February 1915, two compounds were in existence, each of 1000 men, but by the coming months of March and April this number had been increased to 5000.

From the very first Sunday in February, regular church services and addresses primarily of an informal nature were held in the huts of the individual compounds; in the middle of April, the large hall in Compound 2 was completed and we were able to consecrate it with great ceremony. From that time on the church services have been guaranteed a regular and orderly meeting-place, and meetings continue there even to this day. The structure of the Sunday services was, in view of the circumstances, short and plain, and consisted essentially of community singing to the accompaniment of a brassband, reading of the Scriptures, hymns, sermon and closing verses providing a setting to the prayers.

In the summer of 1915, in the course of a few months, the camp underwent further great expansion, making it by far the largest in Great Britain; the existing camp of 5/6000 men was joined by a second camp, then a third camp, and finally a fourth camp of similar size. After initial difficulties had been overcome, we were given a free pass, making it possible for us to visit all the camps and to set up services in the oldest established camps, 1, 2, 3, which lay next to each other. Assembly halls were of course not as yet ready, and so the meetings had to take place mainly in the open air, and occasionally in the compounds. At that time therefore 4 - 6 short services were being held, as far as possible in the morning and afternoon or evening, and as I understand also on weekdays.

Services

At first we took individual themes, intended to begin recruitment to the Christian faith and win over souls for the Kingdom of God; passages such as Matthew 6/33 "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God", Romans 12/1 "Your reasonable service", John Epistles I, 5/11 "The victory that overcometh the world", Galatians 5/11 "Ye have been called unto liberty" may be given as examples. All especially relgious and secular occasions were observed and made use of in the sermon,such as a gymnastics competition, our craft exhibition, the Reformation Festival of 1915, being our own special celebration; the joint birth-date of Luther and Schiller commanded our thoughts on 10 November and led on to the communion services of the Day of Prayer and Repentance and the Memorial Day of the Dead. About this time assembly halls had become available in the remaining camps and were made available for church services. At Christmas and on Christmas Eve 1915 we were able to hold seasonal addresses in all the compounds as well as in the sick wards.

Directly after New Year 1916 we had our first visit from Pastor Goehling of London, who from that time on visited us regularly every three months, refreshing us all and raising our spirits; his visits were followed later by those of Captain Gauntlett of the Salvation Army, whom we welcomed equally gladly, though these visits were less influential. Later still we had the visits of our worthy and venerated Pastor Scholten. To hear another rare voice such as this from the outside was for us always particularly stimulating and strengthening. Since the spring of 1916, Rev. F. Pocock M.A. has been working in the camp on behalf of Bishop Bury of London, although his services and addresses are confined largely to Camps 4, 3, and 2. We had the honour of a visit from this high Church dignitary himself, who has been entrusted with the spiritual care of the Detention Camp, in July 1916.

Over a period of time, our regular church services became more and more closely knit, particularly more self-contained and consistent in their internal links. This showed up in the sequence of themes which was to join one Sunday up with the next and build up a firm Christian foundation. Thus, since February 1915, 8 sermons on "The Lord's Prayer" as an expression of faith, on the first Sundays of Trinity, 6 sermons on the confession of faith, then further ones on "Faith and the Law", on the last Sundays of Trinity, these leading into a combination of "Paul and Luther" and "Luther and Schiller" on the Sundays following 31 October. Memorial Day for the Dead, and its service, was marked by a particular funeral service at the cemetary in Patrick, and for this purpose the small village church was placed at our disposal; each of the four camps held its own commemoration on Friday and Saturday, each being attended by 200 representatives of the camps, which in its own way stands as a high point in the life of the Church. On Christmas Eve 1916 arrangements could be made for us to speak in a few of the camps only and the special service had to be held over till Christmas Day. Linking sequences of theme were chosen also in 1917, beginning with the foundation of the Kingdom of God in the Old Testament: Moses, Elijah, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah filed past us. On the Passion Sundays selected psalms followed, through which we heard of the piety of the Community of Israel, the book of comfort, which quickened them in their captivity. Between Easter and Whitsuntide this was suitably followed by words of promise from the second part of the Book of Isiah, from the 40th to the 66th chpater, with their vision of the coming redemption and approaching salvation. Thus it quite naturally formed the bridge to the New Testament, the separate books of which are intended to describe to us the Gospel, the message of God as brought by Jesus Christ, especially as interpreted and brought to our notice by John and Paul. Following this came a survey of church history, concerning Augustine, the orders of the Monks and German mysticism, Waldus, Savonarola, Wicclef and Huss, leading on to Martin Luther and the Reformation, the 400th anniversary of which we celebrate on the 31st of October [1917].

Bible lessons and lectures

In addition to the church servives, an attempt was made to impart or awaken spiritual stimulation on the smaller scale, edification and teaching being the ways we took, in the form of lectures and Bible lessons.

Partly on the basis of their own requirements, Camps 2 and 3 had formed smaller groups for religious edification, most of these led by their own people, and thus running as individual sessions parallel to the Church.

On 1 February 1916 pass limitations came into force which removed all possibility of contact with the other camps and left the chaplain with only his Sunday service. So that we did not after all have to give up all connections with the other two communities a request was filed for one hour of edification per week, which up till that time had been in operation more or less informally, and this was granted.

On Wednesday mornings there was a visit to Camp 3, on Wednesday afternoons a similar one to Camp 2. On these visits it transpired that it really was much better to approach these lessons rather more from the apologetic viewpoint, something which was particularly necessary in our communities and which the sermon itself had been attempting, i.e. a defence of Christianity in battle and attack, in justification and reconciliation. Thus the first Bible lessons on the Epistle to the Galatians very quickly began to run parallel with a series of lectures, the first theme of which was Nietzsche's attitude towards Christianity, other talks which followed being on German idealism, Herder, Kant, Fichte and our classic writers Schiller and Goethe.

In the winter of 1916/17 the background theme was that of "Religion and Religions", the Old Testament, Buddhism, Islam, the Prophets of Israel, finishing in a description of the views of Tolstoy, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. This summer it was a survey of the nineteenth century and its intellectual currents, materialism, naturalism, criticalism, pessimism, socialism and individualism. From the increase in the number of those visiting these lectures it became clear that interest is all the greater the more the questions and problems are placed within the framework of the intellectual struggle of the present day and contrast and comparison is sought with the exegencies of our times. Thus, in the winter to come a series of lectures is to be given showing the philosophical view of the world and the life view in their interdependency and their reciprocal effect on each other, themes such as for example materialism and socialism, naturalism and egoism, monism and mysticism, pessimism and aestheticism, idealism and individualism. The thoughts to be propounded are to be clarified with examples taken from the history of nineteenth- century philosophy and literature and thus at the same time are to offer an introduction to the turbulent intellectual life of present times.

Organisation and study groups

Of the life of the community and the further arrangements for our work mention will be made again later. The individual camp-communities have their own church committee, and beyond this each Compound has a representative, over whom a church-elder stands for the entire Camp. The church committee of Camp 1 meets once a month in the chaplain's room in order to discuss matters of urgency and new proposals. For Camp 1 it is friends Suetterlin as Elder, Hans Teschemacher, W. Frommann, Leonhard Friedrich, Willy Meyer and Hans Duntz as representatives. These Compund representatives also participate together in the Bible classes, which take place mostly in the evenings in the school rooms placed at our disposal. They deal primarily with selected psalms and gospel abstracts, then especially the letters of Paul to the Galatians, Ephesians etc., as well as the Epistles of John and James. The attendance unfortunately was relatively small.

The Bible classes reach only a small circle, the lectures on the basis of Christian morality one which is correspondingly greater, without however ensuring den festen Zusammenhang. The attempt to join the two together and to give a more rigid form to the meetings has been undertaken with some success in Compound 5 by Herr Friedrich of the YMCA, for which one evening is dedicated to Andacht, and one to stimulus through lectures or Declamation. The organisation in the other camps was similar, except that they could not appear in the same large numbers as in Camp 1, for only one Camp representative per camp had a pass, i.e. freedom of movement throughout his entire camp.

In Camp 2 it was Herr H. Huppenbauer as elder and before him for a long time Herr W. Schoenrock, Messrs L. Kluehe, G. Meister, R.W. Gottberg, R. Merkel as representatives. In Camp 3 Herr Gormsen, before him especially Messrs B. Pflug and E. Murrle.

In Camp 1 the friendly accommodation of the Commandant granted every Compound- representative a pass.

A contact of the various camp-communities for reciprocal discussion and stimulus although long wished-for and in early days almost achieved, could not be turned to reality until the last visit of Pastor Goehling of London in the August of this year through the good offices of the commandants in question. At this meeting Camps 1, 2, 3 were represented by their church elders Suetterlin, Schoenrock, Gormsen as well as the camp chaplains Pastor Hartmann and Rev. D. Pocock M.A., while the second sitting in September called by Pfarrer Schotten had two representatives sent to it from Camp 4, its chaplain Pastor Schmidt and Herr Hiller of the YMCA (London).

Music

Only in Camp 1 were we successful in recruiting men for the Choir and soloists for the services and their adornment, only here was there a small brass band, current leader Herr H. Eysold as successor to P. Forsch, the friends O. Berger, Th. Forsch, H. Hauenstein, R. Vollis, J. Zink, H. Peumer and A. Forsch, who Sunday by Sunday accompanied in the most self less way the chorales for us, while in the other camps we had only a piano at our disposal, Camp 2 Herr Huppenbauer, Camp 3 Herr Large, who played for us, to whom we equally as much are indebted. Also in this place let us think of the constant support from the side of our Compound-Choir, and let them be thanked and also their directors for the willing accommodation. Compound 1, leader Herr Reinicke, Director Herr Tolle, current leader Herr Goldgender, director Herr Paesold, Compound 4, leader Herr Suetterlin, director Herr Lauffenberg. It may perhaps be said that sacred as well as secular song, because of their raising spirits or their sounds of home have a particular attraction for all participants at the service, often have even given direction to the sermon, or brought its reverberating final chord.

Library

Along with the liberal lectures, which turned to the many who otherwise attend no church - and in our motley assembly that is the majority - with similar intent religious literature was given especial attention and a good community library, whose basic stock is formed by our own private library, was set up, which at present contains 600 volumes.

We ought to make special mention of the Protestant Blättervereinigung of Bad-Nassau, the War Help Berlin C2, the DCSV, the Red Cross Hanover, the friends of the Christian World, Marburg, and the World Committee of the YMCA Geneva. The library, the administration of which is in the hands of Herr Suetterlin and the dishing out of whose books is carried out in the following manner, that about every four weeks about 60 books go to the Vertrauensleute in the individual Compounds, from whom they are then borrowed - alongside the representatives already named there is in Compound 2 Herr A.C. Rennemann, in Compound 4 Herr Heinrich Lange, earlier Herr Gesch - enjoys increasing demands on it, at the latest count around 275 readers with 300 borrowings per month. The library contains alongside valuable literature (Goethe, Schiller, Herder, Klopstock, Kleist, K√∂rner, Keller, Raabe, Storm) mainly philosophical-apologetic and religious-education literature: let us name amongst them as authors Blau, Funke, Frommel, Hilty, Hunzinger, P. Jäger, S. Keller (at Thy Word), Le Seur (essays, Hochweg), Lhotzky, Joh. Müller, Runa-Beeskow, A. Schieber, Skovgarrd-Petersen, F. Vetter. The Library contains a strong English section, the beginnings of which go back to the earliest days of our Camp Life, friendly gifts on the part of individual members of the "Society of Friends"; along with novels, historical stories and Quaker Books there is primarily also a rich collection of English-American theological- scientific works; similarly there is a smaller French section, a gift requested from Geneva, which enabled us to fulfil many inquiries. Here too I should like to thank all friendly and self-sacrificing givers heartily, for a good book is always a helping, comforting and true friend. - As printed paper we regularly distributed the "Prisoners' Messenger" of the World Committee of the YMCA in Geneva and the "White Cross Leaves" of the Berlin-Nowawes, Publisher von Slurk, this through the agency of a Friend in the camp.

The possibility of being literarily effective was unfortunately very restricted, right at the beginning the experiment was undertaken of calling into being a morally serious camp newspaper, but the difficulties proved to be too great. In one of two later published editions we were actually able to produce a sermon, held to mark the occasion of our Industry-Exhibition. A recently set-up camp printing shop makes it possible for us perhaphs in the future to publish. An essay entitled "Faith and Present Times", which appeared in the Camp Newspaper, has already actually been distributed to the church attendees as a special offprint.

Word in Conclusion

"Faith and Present Times", that is the great question, which burns on our souls, the great task, at which we have to work, the great responsibility which we have to absolve. To retain steadfastly our Faith, to accept a creed, to fight a good fight even in our present distress, even in the solitariness and abandonment of our POW life, to this end our camp community wished to help, therefore we wished to gather ourselves as a church. The prisoners and yet those called to liberty, the great parable of life, we lived through it as a reality, the Apostle Paul, who spoke of this, has above all encouraged us to endure, victory can be given to us only by a greater one, Jesus Christ himself. May he give according to his grace, that our work has not been in vain, which was intended to serve the buildup of the Kingdom of God, and have his blessing go with us for this and the other world.

Protestant Camp Community. Knockaloe I.o.M. Camp I. Preacher: Rev. D.L.S. Pocock, M.A. Service: Sunday morning 11.15 pm in Compound 2. Vertrauensmänner for the Church [church wardens]. Herr E. Wenninger Compound 1, Hut 5a Herr E. Gothsch Compound 2, Hut 1b Herr L. Friedrich Compound 3, Hut 5a Herr W. Frommann Compound 4, Hut 1a Herr H. Teschemacher Compound 5, Hut 2b Herr W. Meier Compound 6, Hut 2a Library of the Camp Community: Books can be borrowed from the above-named gentlemen, with the exception of Compound 1, where books are given out every Monday and Thursday from 2.15pm to 4.00pm in the earlier Pastors' Room.

[Further Reading]

500 Years German Protestants in Britain 2017 - ISBN? 9-781788-087698 - Guide to an Exhibition at St George's German Lutheran Church [London] 7 Sep to 5 Nov 2017 gives an excellent summary and also many references for further reading


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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