Rudolf Hartmann (unknown - unknown)

Rudolf HartmannUnfortunately little definitive can be said about Hartmann’s early life, almost certainly he was a German national and was working within the Lutheran Church in Birmingham prior to the commencement of the hostilities.

Within Knockaloe Hartmann was given responsibility for the religious provision and welfare of internees of all religious beliefs. Such was the size of the congregations that while he conducted services in Camps II and II, a clergyman from Peel led services in Camp IV. Such was the scale of the congregations that the large theatre in Camp 1 was turned over to religious services on Sundays and religious holidays. His work extended beyond services, and he was instrumental in setting up bible classes and creating a programme of philosophical and religious lectures. Hartmann also wrote a number of pieces for the camp newspaper, Die Hunnen (Panayi 2014). While an authorised pastor within the Lutheran church, Hartmann could not officially preside over religious ceremonies with the established church. Despite this he was able to oversee both marriages (Mona’s Herald 17 March 1915: 7) and funerals (Ramsey Courier, 10 September 1915: 6) of the internees.

During January 1917 an appeal was made to the British Government on Hartmann’s behalf for his repatriation (National Archives Foreign Office Prisoners Germany Files 25245 – 27930, FO 383/293). As an ordained clergyman he was certainly eligible for repatriation (FO 383/293). Camp officials were certainly keen for him to continue his work in the camp, perhaps aware of the impact that his departure would have upon camp morale (FO 383/293). In July 1917, Hartmann himself made a second request for repatriation as a consequence of the death of his brother, and his mother’s ill health. The Government response was to agree to his repatriation, although under the stipulation that Reverend H M Williams, British Chaplain in Berlin, should be returned to Britain. Subsequent debate between government departments ensued over the legality of these demands, showing that the return of Revd William could only be requested and not demanded. The appeal seems to have stalled for a few months until October 1917, when Hartmann made a further request regarding the state of his repatriation. He was finally repatriated via Tilbury and Rotterdam on the 15 October 1917.

On his release he produced a short book Bilder aus dem Gefangenenlager Knodaloe in England (trans. Pictures from the prison camp Knockaloe in England) (1918) which gave a detailed account of the day-to-day existence of internees. His motive for writing the book was to relieve some of the concerns of family and friends of those imprisoned within the camp. The book was generally positive in its portrayal, highlighting the long-term benefits of camp life with particular reference to the programme of education and physical exercise within the camp. He highlighted the close association between German and Turkish internees, and expressed sympathy for the difficulties they had in living in the cold and damp Manx climate (pp. 13). As one would expect the work is loaded with pro-German propaganda. Hartmann was also instrumental in setting up an Ausftellung von Kriegsgefangenenarbeiten (Exhibition of Prisoner of War Work) in Berlin (19th-22nd December 1917); a piece of propaganda highlighting how, despite the privations of camp life, they were able to create a positive outcome. The exhibition included wooden model ships, ships in bottles. Other items displayed included carved wooden boxes, sewing tables, wall cabinets, wall plates, cigarette boxes, pens, letter openers, etc and all this alongside the usual decorated bone work and vases.

In the chaos that ensued in Germany on the cessation of hostilities it is difficult to know what exactly happened to Hartmann.


Hartmann, R (1918). Bilder aus dem Gefangenenlager Knodaloe in England. Laemmle S Müllerschvn: Bad Nassau, Lahn.

Panayi, P (2014). ‘‘Barbed Wire Disease’ or a ‘Prison Camp Society’: The Everyday Lives of German Internees on the Isle of Man, 1914-1919’. (pp99-122). In Germans as Minorities during the First World War. A Global Comparative Perspective. Panayi, P (ed.). Ashgate Publishing Group: London.