If you are researching person displace by WW1, check out 1914-1918 Prisoners of the First World War ICRC historical archives
This story reveals what I discovered there.
As part of my Bibliography check for my latest book, I have revisited my original research websites. This search led to a discovery.This led to a new discovery. A recent addition to the International Committee of the Red Cross database (ICRC)
The ICRC have digitised the records of displaced civilians (and Military) during WW1. This online database was not available when I first researched my grandparent’s story way back in 2011.
My early evidence.
The evidence I had for the Lossl family’s internment in France was from my father’s Naturalisation document. This document confirmed stories my father told me when I was a child.
These stories from my father began, during the humanitarian crisis in Biafra, in 1967. I was 10. The T.V. news, filled with troubling pictures. Starving children and emaciated mothers were refugees of the war in Nigeria. My father hugged me as we watched in horror, and told me,
‘That was me with my mum and sister, during World War One’.
The records showed scant information about German civilian displaced people during WW1. So, I pieced together, from my research, the most likely story of the Lossl family’s internment. Why my grandmother,Amalia, was sent back to Germany, was hard for me to understand. Evidence showed the Allied authorities, tried to keep families together. Why had they sent her to Germany a country she has never visited? Then I discovered the Exchange of Notable Internees program. It seemed to be a likely scenario for Amalia’s frightening refugee trek. A journey which took her across France and Switzerland. The exchange scenario seemed even more plausible when I saw the name Von Lossl mentioned.
The heartbreak and joys of research.
Information on the web always expands. It was gratifying to find the search engine from the ICRC; 1914-1918 Prisoners of the First World War ICRC historical archives.
Hoping beyond hope, I began searching for Amalia Lossl, my grandmother. I tried different spellings of Lossl – Loessl and even Von Lossl. I also searched for her maiden name, Demmel. But to no avail. I felt heartbroken.
But I did find a record for my grandfather, Ernst Lossl. This discovery was a very emotional experience. There it was, in antique print, proof of his internment.
In my books storyline, I had chosen Noirlac Abbey as the camp he was sent to, as it was the nearest to Versailles. But it transpires, Ernst internment was in the region of France called Finistère. Finistère is the area around Brest that sticks out into the Atlantic. I checked a database of the internees at the camp on Île Longue there but did not find Ernst Lossl. So, currently, I cannot pinpoint my grandfather’s exact internment camp. But, from my research, I believe that I have given an authentic account of what my grandfather endured. Reports from the internment camps and the Red Cross have the common theme. This theme of hardship, I have described in their story.
Truth often harsher than fiction?
As for Amalia, her story is enigmatic and uncertain. I fear that my rendition is, in fact, gentler than her actual experience. I fear she, with my father and my aunt, were on the pitted, muddied, refugee road. With only a few scant belongings, in a state of starvation, like the pictures, I saw on the T.V. in 1967, with my father.
If you have any other avenues of research I can follow, please let me know. Kindest regards Margaret
You can read my grandparent story in my new book, Amalia’s Journey.