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le camp d'internement 1914-1919
Le camp d’internés 1914-1919

Dieser Internet-Auftritt verfolgt das Ziel, möglichst viele Informationen über das Internierungslager auf der Ile Longue zusammenzustellen, damit Historiker und Nachkommen der Internierten sich ein Bild von den Realitäten dieses bisher wenig bekannten Lagers machen können - nicht zuletzt auch, um die bedeutenden kulturellen Leistungen der Lagerinsassen zu würdigen.

Le but de ce site est de prendre contact avec les familles des prisonniers allemands, autrichiens, hongrois, ottomans, alsaciens-lorrains... qui ont été internés, pendant la Première Guerre mondiale, dans le camp de l’Ile Longue (Finistère).

Paul Gowa – Eight months in French captivity
Article published on 7 April 2015
last modification on 10 January 2016

by Gérard, Sabine
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As far as we know [1], Paul Gowa was born in August 1890 in Hamburg. He was the 8th child of Emil Gowa, a Jewish businessman, and Johanna née Jacob. He was trained in business matters. For July 10th, 1914, the “Passenger Arrival List” of Ellis Island shows an entry that appears to match him (regarding age and origin). In August and September of the same year, his name can once again be found on a passenger list, this time that of the “Nieuw Amsterdam”. At that time, however, he had already been deemed “unfit for military service“. After the “Nieuw Amsterdam” had been seized, he was transferred to “Fort Crozon” and later to the decommissioned cruiser “Charles Martel”, along with most of his fellow passengers. However, while most of the latter were transferred to the camp on Île Longue once the barracks there had been completed, he was moved to Trébéron Island due to his poor health. There, a former quarantine ward served as a hospital in which he would remain for the following five months. It was again because of his poor health that he was scheduled to be transported to Germany on board a Dutch ship. However, this journey would never take place due to unrestricted submarine warfare and he therefore remained in a military hospital in Brest (“Hôpital de l’arsenal de Brest”) for some more time. In the summer of 1915, he finally returned to Germany (via Switzerland) where he died in November 1918.

In 1915, he wrote an account describing the conditions he experienced during his respective stays. Additionally, his account offers any information he had gained during this time regarding the officers’ camp “Château d’Anne de Bretagne” in Brest and the “Île Longue” camp.

Today, this account (comprising 36 typewritten pages and a printed title page) is part of the digitalized collection of the German national library in Berlin (digitalisierte Sammlungen der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin).

Notes :

[1Before February 2015, not much was known about Paul Gowa. To date, no file bearing his name has been found in the archives of the Finistère (Archives départementales du Finistère). A digital research in the archives of the ICRC led to the discovery of an index card. This card, however, merely verifies that he was a passenger of the „Nieuw Amsterdam“ and that somebody going by the name of Albert Gowa was living in Hamburg. Only Ellis Island’s “Passenger Arrival List“ offered a further lead. Even extensive online research had not resulted in further information, until, on February 23rd, 2015, another attempt resulted in a “hit“ regarding a “Stolperstein“ in Hamburg commemorating one Flora Gowa. Her life story mentions two brothers, Paul and Albert. Albert was co-owner of “Grossard and Gowa“, a publishing house. Further research into Hamburg’s street directory of 1915 revealed the headquarters of “Grossard and Gowa“ was situated in Deichstrasse 50. This address, in turn, was stated by Paul Gowa.

Stolperstein (from German “stumbling block”): A stolperstein is a small, cobblestone-sized memorial (inserted into the pavement in front of the respective person’s former home) for an individual victim of Nazism. It commemorates individuals – both those who died and survivors – who were consigned by the Nazis to prisons, euthanasia facilities, sterilization clinics, concentration camps and extermination camps as well as those who responded to persecution by emigrating or committing suicide. (wikipedia , April 5th, 2015, 13:15, abridged)

For example, the “Stolperstein“ commemorating Flora, one of Paul’s sisters, tells us she was deported to Theresienstadt in 1942, aged 68, where she was murdered in 1943.


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