German Historical Institute London

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Germans in Britain

A new exhibition by the Migration Museum Project

‘There’s more to Anglo-German relations than war and football’ (Joanna Lumley)

18 September to 24 October 2014

Mo, Tue, Wed, Fri: 10am – 5pm
Thursday: 10am – 8pm
Closed Weekends and Bank Holidays
Free Admission

The Wonder of  Windsor, 1841 © Museum of London
This print pokes fun at the artistic and cultural leanings of Queen Victoria’s new German husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and his European relations. The print included a rhyming couplet: ‘The Artist, Poet, Fiddler, Here We See, And all is Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee’

To mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war, The Migration Museum Project has created a new exhibition that explores the rich and fascinating history of German migrants to Britain.

Across the centuries, Germans in Britain have been loved or hated, admired or demonised, but their impact has been immense. The exhibition looks at the many ways in which British sport, science, banks, businesses, music, monarchs, art and design have all been shaped by their German connections, and asks the question: Are we sworn enemies or affectionate siblings?

It is a fascinating story, peppered with both familiar and unfamiliar names. Many people know about Ludwig Guttmann, whose work at Stoke Mandeville hospital in effect founded the Paralympic movement; but what about the Nuremberg engineer who founded Triumph motorbikes in Coventry? Or the early 19th century German chemist whose company eventually became British Gas? Other famous British brands such as Dr. Martens and Persil are also a product of Anglo-German cooperation. Britain’s best-known seaside building, the de la Warr Pavillion in Bexhill, was designed by a German architect, and English art would not be the same without Hans Holbein, who brought Renaissance painting to the court of Henry VIII.

In 2014, the German influence remains as strong as ever – Germany is now the UK’s biggest trading partner, while in sport, Arsenal has five German players in its squad.

The exhibition includes a ‘cabinet of curiosites’ and a video in which Germans in today’s Britain reflect on what their heritage means to them. The speakers in the video are Lord Moser, who came to Britain in 1936; Beatrice Behlen, a museum curator, who came to Britain in 1989; and Henning Wehn, Germany’s ‘Comedy Ambassador’ to Britain’ who came in 2002.

Germans in Britain has been curated by Dr Cathy Ross, Honorary Research Fellow at the Museum of London; designed by Joe Ewart of Society; and has been funded by private and corporate sponsorship, including contributions from, Schroders Foundation, and the Kohn Foundation.

The Migration Museum Project plans to create the UK’s first dedicated Migration Museum, to tell the story of movement into and out of the UK in a fresh and engaging way.

The museum will be an enquiry into who we are, where we came from and where we are going. Britons at home and abroad have a shared cultural history and an exciting future. We aim to represent the thrilling tales, the emotion and the history that have gone into shaping our national fabric; we aim to be the museum of all our stories.

See for more information, further venues and dates.

Download press release (PDF file)