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1914 interned 'aliens'

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Dauna Report 16 Apr 2014 20:57

Can anyone suggest where I might begin to look for information about my gt grandfather Hans Sellman, who was 'rounded up' and interned in September 1914 because he was German. All I know is that he was eventually deported to Argentina and never returned. I don't know if he was interned in UK for a while or deported immediately and, if so, why? I know very little about him and presume he came to England to look for work. He met my Gt grandmother in Dover, where they both worked in a hotel, and they ended up in Buxton in 1914, where she gave birth to my Grandmother. (They arrived as Mr and Mrs but I can't find a marriage for them). Six weeks later, it was all over for them and mother and baby returrned to Dover.
I hope someone can help me with where to start looking. I've tried National Archives online search with no results and emailed them, but they weren't very helpful.


brummiejan Report 16 Apr 2014 22:20

Dauna, you are most probably correct about the lack of a marriage, but just to be sure - I assume your grandmother's surname was Brown? Can you tell us her 1st name please?
ADDED do you have an occupation for Hans? Just in case he is on the 1911 census.

was plain ann now annielaurie

was plain ann now annielaurie Report 16 Apr 2014 22:34

Likely to be at the National Archives but not online and not a straightforward search. What did they say?


patchem Report 16 Apr 2014 22:39

If you want to find out general reasons for internment etc then do a google search.

A friend's father was interned in WW1, whilst on business in Scotland, but the experience did not put him off, and he returned in the 1930's as a refugee from Germany.


mgnv Report 16 Apr 2014 23:29

Check out:


Dauna Report 17 Apr 2014 08:33

Thank you for your replies.

Brummiejan, you are correct, she was called Dorothy Brown b. Oct 1895 in Folkestone. Hans' occupation was listed as Hotel waiter on my grandmother's birth cert (Pauline A.D. Sellman b.01.08.14). I have looked on 1911 and only found Mr H Sellman in the summary books (not sure what they are and why he is not listed in the regular census?). May I ask how you found this connection as I haven't seen anything online which includes Hans and Dorothy together!!

Annielaurie - they just sent me a long generic email about how to search and what to do when visiting etc.

patchem - I know why people were interned buut most were interned in UK then released back to their families after the war. I wondered why he was sent to Argentina

mgnv - I have already done a quick search on here to no avail


brummiejan Report 17 Apr 2014 11:36

Hi Duane.

I just checked out the birth on Freebmd and saw MMN was Brown!
The only possibility I can see is this - it def. says Seemann on image though:

1911 England Census
Name: Hans Seemour
[Hans Seemann]
Age in 1911: 18
Estimated birth year: abt 1893
Relation to Head: Waiter
Gender: Male
Birth Place: Germany
Civil Parish: Kensington
County/Island: London
Country: England
Street address: Sussex Hotel, 111 Queens Gate
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: WAITER
Registration district: Kensington
Registration District Number: 2
Sub-registration district: Kensington South
ED, institution, or vessel: 28
Piece: 115



safc Report 17 Apr 2014 12:48


Marriages Jun 1911 (>99%)
Ffolliott Joseph L Strand 1b 1145
Jones Maud M Strand 1b 1145
Spemann Hans H Strand 1b 1145 xxxx
Von Schilling Ernestine P E Strand 1b 1145


Dauna Report 17 Apr 2014 13:11

Jan, that's most interesting, thank you.

safc - Hmmm?? Interesting!! Something to think about


safc Report 17 Apr 2014 13:27



Dauna Report 17 Apr 2014 15:34

safc - that's a useful site, thank you. I am looking forward to the IRC info being available to search online in August. However, I forgot to mention that Hans was also Jewish and I may find some useful starting points here also


Dauna Report 17 Apr 2014 15:44

Jan, the more I look at the image of Seemann desparately trying to see ll instead of ee, the more I think this is just a coincidence. His name was definitely Sellman, with possibly 2 'n's depending on who writes it. The couple were lodging in Buxton (found in the weekly paper as visitors from May 9th to Sept 26th ) as Sellman. Unless the enumerator just heard 'Seemann' or was this written by the man himself? I want it to be him as everything else fits!!


brummiejan Report 17 Apr 2014 18:50

It definitely says Seemann, the only thing I would say is that the form was filled in by the hotel proprietor, and taking into account the large number of names and the fact this is German means the variation doesn't necessarily exclude him. Just impossible to say.
It doesn't get you anywhere though does it, in any case!


Dauna Report 18 Apr 2014 19:23

It looks to me as if there are several different people who have filled this in, which is why I thought it may be their own handwriting? It could still be useful. I have a photo of Hans in his hotel uniform with some colleagues, so I may be able to confirm one way or another. Also, if this is him I may be able to trace his arrival through the immigration records, so all is not lost Thank you for your interest. If you think of anything else please let me know.

Karen in the desert

Karen in the desert Report 18 Apr 2014 23:32

Names could easily be misheard or mistranscribed, depending on who was filling out forms. I suppose if someone had quite loopy writing then a double 'e' could be similar looking to a double 'l'.

I am in the same position as you, Dauna, in trying to find out about my German ancestors who lived in London prior to 1914, the Head of Household being interned in 1914 before being deported back to Germany after the end of the war. The surname was Buchholz but I've seen it written as Buckholz, Buckols and Buckles, which I guess is what it sounded like to anyone non-German! They ended up changing it to Buckle after the outbreak of WW1 anyway! However, the chap who was deported back home never did return to Britain.

As for internees, It is my belief that certain foreign nationals were interned first, afterwhich they were categorised into enemy alien or friendly alien, some being felt more of a threat than others, ie fit young men of military age as opposed to, say, an elderly retired person.
After a while many were freed from the camps, under 'friendly alien' category, which meant they were under a sort of house arrest or had strict curfews imposed, restricted as to where they could go, for example , allowed to go from their home directly to place of work and back home again, but restricted elsewhere. I believe they had to report regularly to the local police station or similar.

These might be helpful to you... (this one takes a wee while to download)

You might find more by googling 'German enemy aliens in Britain 1914'


Dauna Report 19 Apr 2014 08:02

Thank you Karen. I have already contributed this story to europeana but the others are new to me so I shall investigate them. My gt grandfather was probably deported as an enemy alien directly to Argentina (why not Germany?) from where he sent my grandmother a doll, of which I also have a picture. It's a frustrating story filled with family anecdotes rather than hard evidence, (except for that which I recently discovered in Buxton). I doubt I will ever find the answers although the IRC site may help be of some help when they com online in August.

Karen in the desert

Karen in the desert Report 20 Apr 2014 00:06

I'm at a loss to think why he was deported to Argentina rather than Germany? That calls for a bit of a Google I think :-)


Andysmum Report 20 Apr 2014 17:18

This might possibly help to explain why he went to Argentina - perhaps he was given a choice??

In 1912, approximately 300,000 Germans had emigrated from Russia to North and South America to escape Bolshevik genocide. Between 1885 and W.W.1, the population of Argentina saw an influx of 100,000 German-speaking citizens. Strong German communities developed throughout South America and most maintained strong ties to German culture, providing high-quality German schooling, while strong feelings developed between the Argentinians and the Germans. A new wave of emigration began after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918. In Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chili, larger and more compact German settlements already existed, all with cultural institutions.


Dauna Report 20 Apr 2014 19:34

Thanks Andysmum.

It would be nice to think he had a choice but why leave your new baby and emigrate so far away? He kept in touch with her for a few years and I have photos of a present he sent her circa 1920! I fear he may actually have had German sympathies, which is why he had to be expelled.

I've been checking out the National Archives online but it seems many records no longer exist. I am thinking of making a trip to Kew, but it's a lot of travelling for me and I'm not sure I will find anything of interest in this line of inquiry. Can't find him on any immigration lists either.