From Germany to Charlton

This is a story about what I know thus far of the life of Paul August Ferdinand Lippert from the records I have collected. I’ve recently written another post about how I managed to trace the Lippert family with limited knowledge of their background.

Paul August Ferdinand Lippert was born around 1867 in Stolp, a city in the region of Pomerania, formerly part of Germany but now part of Poland. I have only recently discovered his name and place of birth, so very little is still known of him.

What I do know is that he slowly migrated westward over the course of his lifetime, eventually ending up in London, where he died under difficult circumstances which I will try to explain.

He was a glass-blower by profession, as were his two sons, Paul and Otto. It is highly likely that the family stayed in this occupation for generations before him, as glass-making in Germany was a trade which was usually passed down from father to son and hard to get into if you were not part of a glass-making family.

Paul married a lady named Johanna Marie Auguste Beyer. As I do not know where or when this marriage would have taken place I can’t expect to find a record for it until the time comes when German civil records start to get the same online treatment as those from the United Kingdom and the United States. However my first guess for a marriage record between them would be in the place of birth of their first child.

By the time he was aged about 29, Paul and his wife had their first [known] child, Otto Wilhelm Lippert, in Altona – now a district of Hamburg – in 1896. Two years later, Paula Mathilde Friederike Lippert is born in Stadthagen, a town in Lower Saxony in 1898. They don’t seem to stick around for very long as by 1900, Johanna gives birth to Paul Lippert, Jr., their last [known] child, in Hörstel in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Between 1900 and 1911 the family make what was probably the biggest change of their lives so far and move to London. The exact year they arrived isn’t clear, but I should be able to narrow it down in the future by buying several birth and death certificates for a couple of Lipperts in Woolwich and West Ham which are listed on the General Register Office’s birth, marriage and death index registers.

It is not known whether or not Johanna travelled with Paul to London, but I believe she did. Paul was a widower by 1911, leaving the three young children without a mother. This probably became a strain upon the father, looking after three children in a foreign country whilst working to clothe and feed them.

In 1908, there is a death record [which I plan to purchase after Christmas] for a Johanna Lippert aged 35 years-old in the district of Woolwich (which included North Woolwich on the other side of the River Thames).

When the 1911 census was taken, Paul and his three children are living at 3 Kent Cottages on Dock Street in North Woolwich. This could tie-in with the Johanna Lippert death record as mentioned.

Their next residence is 12 Siemens Road – a street in Charlton which was named after the German company, who had a factory in the area manufacturing telegraphic cables and other equipment. They would have moved here sometime between 1911 and the beginning of the Great War in 1914. The war would have a huge impact on the family.

Along with all other Germans residing in the United Kingdom, the Lippert family were subject to tribunals which would determine whether they would be deported or be sent to intern camps around the country. As he was of military age, Paul was sent to be interned at Alexandra Palace near Wood Green in North London. He might also have been interned previously at the Knockaloe Camp on the Isle of Man before being sent to Alexandra Palace. It was very common to be sent from place to place for various reasons. Some men who had lived in London for a while were sent to camps which were closer to ‘home’, but there may not have been space at the time. Unfortunately there are no surviving records of internees at these camps.

It is not known what happened to Paul’s three children during this time. Otto Lippert would have just turned 18 around the time of these procedures against Germans, so it could have been very likely that Otto was sent to a concentration camp too. This raises questions about who was looking after the other two children, Paul and Paula, who would have been 14 and 16.

There is the possibility that Otto joined the British Army. The 30th and 31st Battalions of the Middlesex Regiment were formed as labour battalions for those of enemy alien origin in the United Kingdom. I am unable to find any record for Otto such as a medal card on The National Archives website, but there is the possibility of him using an alias such as William or something entirely different.

Two years into the First World War, tragedy strikes the family when Paul August Ferdinand Lippert dies at Alexandra Palace of a 5-day-long brain hemorrhage. Part of me feels that he would have been alive had it not been for his internment. The inmates’ hardships are documented in a notebook written by a German doctor who was interned there. Their diets were restricted to a very small amount of food and the same buckets used for cleaning were used to serve their food. I also feel that as the anti-German feeling was so high in England at the time (Germans were subject to endless attacks for being German)  that they were no doubt treated with contempt by the officers of the camp grounds.

Several Germans were known to have committed suicide during their internment at Alexandra Palace. In total, 51 of them died during this period of different causes. Their bodies were transferred to the Great Northern Cemetery in New Southgate (now called New Southgate Cemetery) where they were buried in public graves in a section of the cemetery near the entrance. There is a memorial which was placed by the British Government after the war to list those 51 men. It reads, in German:

“Hier ruhen die genannten 51 deutschen Maenner die waehrend des Weltkrieges in Zivilgefangenschaft gestorben sind.” (Here rest in God the named 51 German men who died during the World War in civil imprisonment.)

With more than a year until the war was to end and eight months after his father’s death, in February 1917, Otto married Phoebe Violet Mogridge in Canning Town. His address is still listed as 12 Siemens Road, Charlton.

There is still so much more to find about Otto, Paul and Paula’s early lives. I am planning visiting Greenwich Local History Centre, The National Archives, Newham Archives & Local Studies Library and the London Metropolitan Archives for more information before ultimately taking a trip to Germany and Poland to see the home of the Lipperts for myself.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Gary Knibbs
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 07:31:24

    Brilliant work

    If you need help purchasing certificates then just email me



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