Project gains funding to research internment camp in Stratford

A project researching an internment camp for Germans on what became the Olympic Park has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Stratford Little Germany 1914 has discovered that German immigrants living in East London when the War broke out were rounded up and interned on what is now the London Olympic site.

The project is researching the story of the German immigrants who were living and working in Stratford and West Ham. The area had the largest German community in London.

Tensions rose following the sinking of the British ocean liner Lusitania by a German U-boat in 1915 and mobs began smashing the windows of German-owned shops. It was after these disturbances that an internment camp was set up in a disused factory on the site where the 2012 Olympics were held.

The project is being run by Redbridge-based Eastside Community Heritage with a £9,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Descendants of the German residents will be interviewed by volunteers and local archives scoured for documents and photographs from the period. The hidden history uncovered will be used to create a local exhibition and workshops for schools in the area.

Judith Garfield, Executive Director of Eastside Community Heritage, said: “Understanding the importance of the First World War in the British psyche, is more than looking at old poems and photographs. The First World War teaches us how communities can so easily be divided and separated.

“Our Stratford Little Germany 1914 project is a reminder that the implications of war reach far beyond the battlefields, and seep into the remotest corners and neighbourhoods of England.”