Enemy Aliens

The outbreak of war inevitably saw people become hostile to foreigners and Germans living in Britain were seen as a threat. Many were sent to internment camps for the duration of the war, including Libury Hall in Great Munden.

Reports in the Herts and Essex Observer show that arrests of foreigners were being made in the area as early as August 1914, when Paul Kluger was arrested as a “suspected German”, although he maintained he was Swiss, and on September 12th at Hertford Police Court a German governess was cautioned that she must inform the police and get a permit if she travelled more than five miles from her registered address.

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German companies operating in the area changed their name; the Hertford gramophone factory Lindström Limited, became Beka records, but was later closed down and its German managers disappeared without a trace.

On October 30th The Biggleswade Chronicle reported that "An order has been issued by the Home Office to the police, instructing them to arrest all Germans, Austrians or Hungarians in their district of military age, and hand them over to the military authorities ... At Libury Hall (the German Farm Colony) a great number of arrests were made ..."

Before the war, Libury Hall had been converted by Baron Bruno Schröder, C A Bingal Esq., and Baron William Schröder to provide work and housing for unemployed Germen men. The home was largely self-sufficient and grew its own produce on its 300 acre estate. Several of its pre-war inhabitants were German reservists and so were designated as Prisoners of War and transferred to larger internment camps.

Not all the inhabitants of Libury Hall were strong enough to stand the conditions in the main internment camp on the Isle of Man and so, at the start of 1915, the Home Office identified “an urgent need for an institution for elderly, infirm and rheumatic men whose health is likely to be very seriously injured by detention in Military Camps” and Libury Hall was designated for this purpose.

The management remained in the hands of W. Müller, the pre-war director, who now acted under the supervision of a British Commandant, and a few police officers. By May 1915 there were 188 internees at the Hall who continued to grown their own food and operate on a self-sufficient basis as far as possible.

John Heny Cors

John Henry Cors (possibly Johann Heinrich Kors originally) came to England in the 1870s, from Hanover in Germany. He had a settled in Liverpool, marrying twice with 12 children from the two marriages, but in 1915 he was deported to the Isle of Man as an enemy alien.

After arriving in the Isle of Man, Cors was taken ill and was transferred to Libury Hall where he died of lung disease on 12th June 1916. His great granddaughter only discovered his story after tracking down a copy of his death certificate. The anti-German feeling in the country had led to his name being unspoken in the family.