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Germans in Australia during WWI
Transcript of Germans in Australia during WWI
"It's no joke for us Germans here in the enemy's country. The English treat us shabbily...We Germans have to report to the police every week...Many are out of work...people imagine that the Germans in Australia are all spies."
- R. Evans, Loyalty and Disloyalty: Social Conflict on the Queensland Home Front, 1914-1918, UQP, Brisbane, 1987.
War Precautions Act
In October 1914, the Labor Government introduced the War Precautions Act.
This stated that residents from enemy nations had to register and report weekly to local police stations or military authorities.
It also prevented Germans from voting, buying/selling property and using their own language which had also been taken out of the school curriculum.
As a nation, Australia stopped all trade with Germany.
As part of the War Precautions Act, leaders of the German community in Australia, showing unpatriotism were brought to attention and sent to internment camps where they were treated like prisoners of war. They were degraded but not abused.
In New South Wales, 6890 were interned in the largest camp in Holsworthy, 4500 of whom were actually Australian citizens.
August 4, 1914
During World War I, there were over 30,000 Germans in Australia's population of 4.5 million, many of whom had actually been granted citizenship.
No sooner had the war began, than the Australian public's view on Germans drastically changed to suspicion and even hostility.
The government kept an eye on anyone who in any way seemed German-related
Immigration of Germans to Australia stopped
Many German-Australians changed their names to sound more British in hope that they would be protected.
Australians would strike until all Germans were sacked from their jobs.
Other changes that affect Germans living in Australia include their:
businesses, schools and churches being closed down
music being banned
food being renamed
place names being changed to British ones E.g. Blumberg became Birdwood & German Creek became Empire Bay
Germans in Australia
New Germany, c.1916. Courtesy National Library of Australia
Holsworthy Internment Camp, c.1915. Dubotzki collection, Germany