The 35,000 Germans living in Britain at the outbreak of war made up the third largest immigrant group in the country. They worked in London and in seaside towns often as hairdressers, waiters, musicians, and, frequently, shop owners.
Tony Sarg, an American illustrator born in Guatemala moved to London in 1908 and his fascination with London, and especially the East End, was borne out by his cartoons, usually with 'Cockneyesque' captions. This postcard, showing a stereotypical German shopkeeper doing his bumbling best to de-Germanise his store front, placing accented patriotic notices in his window and changing his name to one of impeccably British origins, was drawn by Sarg and was probably typical of many businesses populating the areas of the capital he knew well. Remarkably, the postcard's mark on the back indicates it was sent just six weeks after the outbreak of war demonstrating that as early as this, there was a growing anti-German feeling on the home front.
The mood, however, is still light-hearted. Events of 1915, the following year, such as the execution of British nurse Edith Cavell and the sinking of the 'Lusitania' by German torpedoes, saw the public mood towards the enemy darken. Following news of the latter, shop fronts in London's East End, such as the one caricaturised by Sarg in this postcard were famously attacked by angry Londoners in reaction to what they felt were new depths of German barbarity.