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Wives of Germans sent from Birmingham in WW1 'destitute'

Wives of Germans sent to the north of England from Birmingham during World War One were "very destitute", an academic said.

After the sinking of the Lusitania by a German submarine in May 1915, anti-German feelings led to riots in big cities, including Liverpool, Manchester and London.

It was then the government stepped up its operation to move Germans to internment camps.

In June 1915 about 60 detained Germans were marched to New Street, put on a train to the north of England and sent to Handforth internment camp in Cheshire.

Some had married Birmingham girls who would suffer because of the fate of their husbands.

Dr Stefan Mans, of Aston University, said: "The wives were very destitute. Usually the breadwinner of the family was interned for three or four years.

"Some of these wives were also repatriated... They were repatriated to Germany, sent back to Germany where they didn't know anyone."

BBC Midlands Today's Bob Hockenhull reports, with footage from the Imperial War Museum and British Pathe.

  • 07 Aug 2014