22nd May 1915. Anti German Feeling in Rugby


On Friday night last week a crowd assembled at the top of High Street, and made a hostile demonstration against Mr Meerholz, a naturalised German, who runs a hair-dressing establishment on premises also used as a branch post office. As soon as it was dusk people began to congregate ; but, on the whole, good humour prevailed until about 11 p.m. when a stone was thrown through the plate-glass window of the shop and another through the bedroom window. Inspector Lines, Sergt Goodwin, and about eight constables were on duty in the vicinity. They controlled the crowd well, and at about 11.30 induced the people who had assembled to quietly return to their homes. Mr Meerholz’s shop window was boarded up to prevent further damage.

On the following day rumours gained currency it that further raids would be made on the place, and also upon a house at Bilton. A considerable number of police-nearly a hundred were quietly drafted into the town, and were kept in readiness in the respective localities, but there was no attempt to give effect to the alleged threats. A number of people assembled in High Street, but more out of curiosity than in a spirit of mischief.

The demonstration was referred to in several places of worship in the town on Sunday.

Preaching at the evening service in the Parish Church, the Rector (the Rev C M Blagden) said :-“ We feel that on our belief in the Godhead of Jesus Christ depends our belief in the authority of His teaching. ‘Never man so spake’ as He did, and when He lays stress on judgment, mercy, and faith as essential qualities in the Christian character we are bound to observe what he tells us. It is from this point of view that I wish to protest publicly against the hooliganism which brought dishonour on our town on Friday night last week. Lynch law is no part of the teaching of our Lord. It provokes retaliation ; it makes no distinction between innocent and guilty ; it always falls heaviest on defenceless women and children ; it is in its essence utterly un-Christian. Those who were guilty of the violence which fills us all with shame and disgust will find a much better field for their activity in Flanders, where there are plenty of armed enemies waiting for them.


Allusion was made to the incident by the Vicar of New Bilton (Rev F Challenor), who said he thought it was a very disgraceful thing to do. That which we hated in the Germans we were in danger of developing ourselves, and he urged New Bilton people to take no part in such proceedings.



SIR,- I have seen with pleasure that you have reprinted my letter of May 12th in “ The Times,” and as I now live the greater part of the year in Warwickshire, I am only to pleased to supplement that letter.

As far back as 1867, my father took out expatriation papers for me “ a minor ” after the free city of Frankfurt had lost its independence through being annexed by Prussia, an act against which he and others strongly protested. After a few years of travel, I settled in London in 1870, and became naturalised in 1876. I have already condemned and expressed my abhorrence of the German acts and methods in this war, and perhaps I may now add that my only son has been fighting with the British Army since last October.-Yours faithfully,


22 Upper Brook Street, W.

May 20th, 1915.


DEAR SIR,- The letter in your last issue gives me a welcome opportunity of giving public expression to my feelings of grief, horror, and indignation at the crimes committed by the German Government. They are the outcome of that aggressive arrogant Prussian militarism which I have always denounced, and which has become a standing menace to civilisation and humanity.

As regards my position on the Bench of Magistrates, I have sent my resignation to the Lord Lieutenant of the County, as I realise that under present conditions this position is liable to mis-construction by those who do not know me.-Yours faithfully, F MERTTENS.

Bilton Rise, near Rugby, May 15th.

Mr R B Meerholz, 23 High Street, Rugby, writes to say that he became a naturalised Englishman in the year 1909, and that he has not resided in Germany for the last 17 years. He has for the last 11 years continuously resided in England, his adopted country. He takes this opportunity of expressing his detestation of the conduct of the Germans, and wishes to contradict all rumours to the effect that his sympathies are with them. He heartily desires the success of the Allies.


SIR,-I was amazed on reading the Advertiser this week that such an academic question as to whether Mr Merttens should or should not retain his seat on the Rugby Bench of Magistrates was still being discussed-and this after the Lusitania outrage and the fiendish atrocities recorded in the White Paper issued by the Bryce Commission. Mr Bonar Law has said that the well-to-do German, naturalised or not, is the most dangerous. We know that a German who becomes naturalised in England does not lose his sympathies with the Fatherland ; we know that hundreds of well-to-do Germans have been living amongst us with plenty of leisure and plenty of means, and we know that the means have been supplied by the Fatherland. If the Germans ever do visit Rugby we may rest assured that its admirable position as a railway centre will be very much appreciated by them, and there is not the slightest doubt that they know its many excellent points a great deal better than 90% of its inhabitants do, thanks to their excellent advance agents. I have the greatest sympathy with the people who in some of the large towns have wrecked German property. I say more power to them-they have instrumental in moving the Government. The German has forfeited the respect of the civilised world, and a man who will trust one of them in the future will regret it. – Yours truly, ASHFIELD.


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