Forgotten stories of First World War capture in Lofthouse

Lofthouse Park Camp during World War One (� IWM Q56595)
Lofthouse Park Camp during World War One (� IWM Q56595)

The stories of “enemy aliens” imprisoned at a forgotten First World War internment camp will be told at a history event.

Around 1,500 civilians from Germany, Austria and Turkey were rounded up and interned at a converted amusement park in Lofthouse between 1914-1918.

19th-century pork butcher apprentice from Germany (courtesy of family Manfred Kümmerer, Jungholzhausen, Germany).

19th-century pork butcher apprentice from Germany (courtesy of family Manfred Kümmerer, Jungholzhausen, Germany).

Some, including Germans making a living here as pork butchers, were separated from their English spouses after being captured just because of their nationality.

The camp at Lofthouse Park, between Wakefield and Leeds, later held hundreds of captured military officers who were held there until their release in December 1919.

On Sunday (September 10), its history will be explored at a free programme of talks and tours as part of a project by the Centre for Hidden Histories and Leeds University.

Dr Claudia Sternberg, of the university’s Legacies of War project, said: “Connecting our own research with that of residents, family historians, collectors and descendants in Britain and Germany has resulted in a wealth of new information and insights.”

The event from 11am at Lofthouse Working Men’s Club will include a stage re-enactment of the challenges faced by the English wife of a German internee during the war.

An archeologist will explain how people can help with a project to look for traces of the vanished prisoner-of-war camp.

Dr Sternberg said: ”Another aspect of our research is to look beyond the First World War and explore family legacies and more recent experiences of German migration to Yorkshire.

“We are now looking for people who are of German descent, Germans who moved to Yorkshire in their lifetime or were born to German parents or into a mixed marriage.

“Anyone prepared to share their stories is invited to get in touch with us.”

The Lofthouse Park Heritage Open Day will be held from 11am-4pm at the club on Canal Lane.

For more information and timings click here