HC Deb 04 May 1916 vol 82 cc106-7
12. Mr. PETO

asked whether Oskar Goehling, an alien enemy of military age, who has served in the German Army, is allowed to have a telephone (Sydenham 1,971); whether this man is known to have been in correspondence with a body called the Fellowship of Reconciliation; whether he is still in control of the German church at Forest Hill, which abuts on the main line of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, a principal strategic artery in the defence of London; whether a service was held in this church to celebrate the sinking of the "Lusitania," on Sunday, 9th May, 1915; whether this church is now used for the purposes of a rendezvous by Germans and a local branch of the No Conscription Fellowship; and whether he proposes to take any action?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Herbert Sameuel)

Oskar Goehling is pastor of the German Church at Forest Hill, and has been in this country for eight years. It is not known that he has ever served in the German Army. He visits prisoners of war camps with the approval of the War Office, and discharges other duties as a minister of religion, and in view of this work was exempted from internment on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee; and was allowed to retain his telephone. Only two services have been held at his church since September last. I have no knowledge that he is in correspondence with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the allegations in the latter part of the question appear to be without foundation.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say if this reverend gentleman is allowed to retain his telephone?


Yes. The danger from improper use is very small, as conversations can always be supervised at the Exchange—indeed, nothing would be more welcome than that dangerous persons should use the telephone.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say what use this church is now put to, and whether it is used as a meeting ground for the local branch of the No Conscription Fellowship?


I am informed that that is not so. I will have inquiries made as to the purpose for which the church is used, if the hon. Member desires it.

Back to