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Bill Woerlee

Australian elections 5 May 1917

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Bill Woerlee

Mates

I found this article in the London Times of 7 May 1917, page 5.

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The extracts that immediately stand out are:

... while the South Australian returns demonstrate that the Germans have supported the Labour Party and that the Vaughn Ministry will be defeated whenever the State Legislature is dissolved.

and

The plain moral of the election is that Australia has repented of her languidness in October and will honour all the undertakings that Mr. Hughes gave when he was in London.

I will let these comments stand on their own and commentary will follow.

Cheers

Bill

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Bill Woerlee

Mates

The first comment really stood out.

Apart from the ignorance of the author in matters Australian even at the time - it is "Labor" in the Australian Labor Party and always has been because of the Irish Catholic hatred of all things English and thus employed the American spelling on the term as indeed they also influenced the name of the Upper House as the Senate - rather than the English spelling of the name as "Labour".

Which leads in very nicely to the second part of this same point. The article is slyly suggesting that the crafty German Australian voters banded together with the hateful Hun to defeat the conscription referendum of 1916.

The truth is sadly totally different. It was Archbishop Manix of Melbourne and the Irish Catholic vote that killed the referendum. However, the shades of the Irish Easter Uprising and all the fallout possibly gave the author pause to reflect on posting this as the blame. So hit the Hun - they can't fight back.

In essense the British establishment view is the Huns knocked the commitments of Hughes on the head and stopped them dead.

It is ghastly to read this smear since many German Anzacs served with great distinction. The key man that comes to mind in Monash. In my area of study, the 9th Light Horse Regiment about 10% of the members were German Anzacs who fought and died for their country - Australia. And fought they did and died they did. Some had to change their names to Anglo names to stop the abuse.

An aticle like this must have rankled. I know it rankled my children's great grandfather - named below - and a good many others.

Cheers

Bill

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SiegeGunner

Bill,

From the ALP's own website: "During the early years of the ALP, the Party was referred to by various titles differing from colony to colony. It was at the 1908 Interstate (federal) Conference that the name 'Australian Labour Party' was adopted. In its shortened form the Party was frequently referred to as both 'Labor' and 'Labour', however the former spelling was adopted from 1912 onwards, due to the influence of the American labor movement."

Re changing of names, I’m not clear why some Australians of German descent felt it necessary to change their names to avoid abuse from their fellow Australians if they made up such a large proportion of units like the 9th Light Horse ? Were some German Anzacs actually still German citizens ? If so, isn’t it more likely that they changed their names to avoid being charged with treason and their relatives in Germany perhaps being persecuted if they fell directly or indirectly into German hands ?

This was obviously a very traumatic issue in Australian history, and I would like to understand it better.

regards

Mick

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RHLV

I remind people here that Monash was also Jewish (although apparently not a fervent practitioner) which means that in some stages of German history he wouldn't have been considered German. I presume he saw himself as an Australian first and a German/Jewish/Polish secondarily.

Rich

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Bill Woerlee

Mick

G'day mate

Glad you went to the ALP site. The "Labour" thing is purely British - seems the Poms can't get used to the idea about the Colonies striking out on their own. I notice this error in a great deal of contemporary and older writisng comming from England regarding the ALP. It is the thing about the American Irish influence upon the Australian Irish body politic - something that was quite large but officially understated.

Mick I am not quite following the logic of your comment. However there was a great deal of antipathy towards all things German in Australia as there was in England and France. A German sounding name on a shop was enough provocation to have it smashed and looted. Didn't matter is the person was a loyal citizen. In England it was enought for Louis von Battenburg to be sacked from his position of First Sea Lord and also booted from the Navy in a most unceremonious manner. He changed his name to Mountbatten. If this was that big in England, nothing was any different in South Australia. Town names founded by Germans were changed in a wholesale manner. People who had been loyal Australian citizens bearing German names were fired from their jobs, kicked out of rented accommodation and worse, interned for no greater crime than bearing a German name. Nothing to do with treason but everything to do with being able to live in peace within Australia.

It is a hard concept for people to deal with in both Australia and other places that there were German Anzacs - fellows whose first language was German but they were no more, no less Australian Anzacs. In the 9th ALHR, at Gaza 2, a fellow by the name of Haines was killed. He was a German with the actual name of Heinze - you couldn't get a more German name than that.

No conspiracies here - just outright intolerance that was a common factor in Europe at the time.

As opposed to this, the German Bund in America was quite strong and was instrumental in keeping the US out of the war. There was not the massive outpouring of anti-German sentiment although the men from the Bund served as loyal American Doughboys. There is quite a haunting movie made about this experience which was made in the early 30's. Worth the watch.

Cheers

Bill

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Guest

Bill

I notice from our previous writings that you seem to be quite a wanderer and have finally settled in Canberra.

The tone of your opinions here is rather off-putting as you seem to be implementing the old and tried political tactic of divide and rule.

As a Kiwi the Anzac connection has always been strong, not only on the battlefield but also on the world political and human rights stages. After all, our first Labour government was led by Michael Savage and a few of his former Australian Socialists, some of whom had fallen out of favour with the establishment on such issues as boy conscription.

I cannot for the life of me see any value in raking over the political coals on a matter which could only inflame old misconceptions about our common heritage.

Forgive me if I withdraw from this forum

Pete

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Bill Woerlee

Pete or Pat or whatever your name is this week

I have absolutely no idea what you are raving on about.

Bill

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SiegeGunner

Bill,

I did have various points to develop, all stemming from the fact that a large proportion of German emigrants to Australia were social democrats at odds with the political situation in their home country - and thus natural supporters of the Labor Party and strongly enough motivated to take up arms against the German system (overcoming even their reluctance to fight against their former countrymen), but I have decided to hold my peace.

Mick

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Bill Woerlee

Mick

G'day mate

I hope the comments of Pat, our serial internet pest in Post#6 is the not cause of your reluctance. If so you will give a victory to a troll who has made it a 24/7 occupation to destroy my work and that of anyone who disagrees with his "strange" ideas. He has been booted off this site in excess of 40 times. If you examine other sites, he writes little love notes to me too.

As for your comments and thesis, there is some substance to part of them. The reason for German emigration to Australia lay in the fact that various groups, expecially from Saxony, came to SA to excape religious persecution. Captain Hahn and his group who settled at Hahndorf are a perfect example.

As for being Social Democrats and natural candidates for the ALP - hmmmm - you might have found one or two. Since they were mainly small farmers, congregating in the fruit and wine growing regions of South Australia, their natural constituency was more the political groups that catered for the needs of the the farmers - vis - the more conservative side of the political spectrum. It was this group, the farmers, that solidly supported the conscription referrendum. You need to keep in mind this Irish Catholic and Protestant dichotomy in Australian politics at the time. It wasn't until Gough Whitlam became leader of the ALP in 1969 that he became the first non-Catholic to lead the party. Before then there was a savage sectarian divide in the Australian community. The German Protestants did not sympathise with the Irish Catholics in any formal sense. Indeed there was a great antipathy between these groups.

These people had no reluctance joining up to fight against Germany. Some did, but this was not a trend. They were as enthusiastic as the rest of the population in joining the forces. In all the anti conscription literature, I have never seen anything that was specifically directed towards the German population of South Australia. There is a lot of rhetorical handslips produced but these dealt specifically with Melbourne and Manix.

There is a good book on this very subject called "German Anzacs" and well worth a read on this issue. There is some great research on this topic that was taboo for many years. Articles like that in the time meant that the climate was not right for exploring the contributions the Germans in Australia made towards the war effort in the Great War.

Cheers

Bill.

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SiegeGunner

Thanks Bill. No, it's not the troll - it's more the realisation that the situation of Germans in Australia was much more complex than that of Germans in Britain during the GW. So I've just ordered a copy of 'German Anzacs'.

Cheers

Mick

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Bill Woerlee

Mick

G'day mate

Glad you have ordered the book. It's a well researched book and a good read. Prior to reading this, I had studied the German Bund in the US - I had all the editions of their newspapers produced during the Great War which gave me a great insight into the beliefs of the resident migrant population. It wasn't until I moved to South Australia that I began to understand the interaction of the German community vis a vis the broader Australian community. It's through my research into the local Aborigianal communities that I came into contact with the German immigrants. This may seem rather strange, and to me it was, since they were the anthropologists and linguists through which we have our in depth knowledge of the state of the Aboriginal communities prior to settlement and at the early phases of settlement. Without the intellectual effort of the Germans, this knowledge would have been lost. So right from the beginning of the South Australian state, the German community played a vital role - intellectually and economically. They were thoroughly integrated within the Australian community. One of the classical Australian books about the life of the Germans in South Australia is called "The Sun on the Stubble" - it is a well read and loved text dealing with a young fellow growing up in a German household in Australia.

I suppose when I read the article in the times trotting out all the misconceptions held by the English establishment, it appears to be far too simplistic for the actual situation. Moreover, it attempts to tie the Germans with the Irish and by implication, slur them as being as trecherous as the Irish, despite the fact that the Irish fought and died for the British in great numbers both from Ireland and Australia. It was just a nastly little piece wirtten by someone who was asked to produce this opinion.

Cheers

Bill

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robbie

Hello Bill.

Thanks for posting this very interesting topic. As an Aussie I should know all about Labour and Labor but I admit this was news to me. I also can recommend the book you mention.

Robbie

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stevebecker

Mate,

Many still are fighting that war, if you read some of the newspapers now in print.

The changes from Labor and others has gone along with the Catholic's and Prodies brought out from the old country.

From a pro catholic anti British stand to a socialist agenda has been natual follow threw for them, and no matter what you believe any party that still calls its members "comrade" has still many problems to over come.

As to our German relations I can only add that with our name and living at Bathurst during the Great war we had no problems having lived there since 1880's I understand our family was well known there.

None were known to be interned or sent to the main Interment camp for NSW at Holsworthy outside Liverpool.

Cheers

S.B

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Bill Woerlee

Robbie

G'day mate

Thanks for the comments.

Yeah mate, it is way too easy to fall for the stereotypes. I grew up during the Menzies era when the ALP was equated with the Communists and seen as a front group for the World Wide [insert name] Domination Plot. First it was the Jewish Bankers, then the Communists and now the Muslims - insert the name of your favourite group to hate on a global basis. My folks, being migrants from Europe and having seen the ravages of the Russians first hand had no desire to see this play out in Australia and thus were anti-ALP converts buying into the message. Them and two million other immigrants. So you can imagine what a total cultural shock it was to me when I got to university and mixed with a whole range of people from different backgrounds. I was literally confronted by another Australia I never even knew about but assumed I did through stereotypes and caricatures. Then I had to teach Aboriginal children in the desert as part of my penance. It changed my whole European Protestant middle class outlook on Australia. One thing I learned was the establishment lied to me big time. The stereotypes were comfortable but lacking any substance.

You will notice the comments of Pete aka Pat - he is a sorry soul who cannot accept that he has been lied too - it would destroy all the stereotypes he believes in. Instead of questioning his beliefs he has made it his mission to go where no human has gone to suppress honest exploration. He is not alone here. There are many who are content to accept stereotypes and exploit them for their own gain.

One institutional stereotype that really gets up my nose is the AWM's decree that the proper noun "Anzac" will be capitalised as in the acronym "ANZAC" - gramatically erroneous. Yet the AWM has even altered the works of Bean, the founder, to reflect this newspeak. It is a deliberate management decision taken without regard to their research staff who deplore the misuse of such a term.

So as one set of stereotypes disappear into the pail of history, new ones are invented. In the end it is up to us to keep an eye out for them and keep integrity within the Australian story.

Cheers

Bill

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Bill Woerlee

Steve

G'day mate

Yeah, I forgot you were a Kraut. Becker - you couldn't get a more German name than that.

You remember the discussion we had about Siekmann changing his name - the only reason seen was in his reasons for taking a months leave in Australia in 1918 - his sons needed help and guidance from him since they had finished school. In that month he also changed his name by deed poll. It could only have been to help his sons out who were experiencing difficulties because of their father's surname.

As to internment Steve, I heard over Fox News that Villawood is looking for you mate so try to keep a low profile. :lol:

Cheers

Bill

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stevebecker

Bill,

For your interst, check out he Service record of Pte John Size 1199.

A letter to the Army on page 16 maybe of interest.

It goes to show how simple someone can be acussed of doing something they never gdone.

Cheers

S.B

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Bill Woerlee

Steve

G'day mate

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. The content is so outrageous but in line with the paranoia of the time. Don't forget, Balhannah had a sizable German population. The letter bears publishing in the context of this discussion.

post-7100-1146356775.jpg

This is page 1 which begins the story.

Cheers

Bill

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Bill Woerlee

Mates

And now we stick the knife in.

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It must have been tough for the folks owning the general store at Balhannah to put up with this stuff all along.

The one thing that I did begin to understand is that women such as this were responsible for keeping the Nazis in power by informing on their neighbours. There are a number of studies on this, especially the Gestapo files in particular villages where the correspondence with informers was still kept and preserved.

I guess it proves the old adage: television, telephone, telawoman. :lol:

Cheers

Bill

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Bill Woerlee

Mates

I came across this letter to the editor of the Adelaide Advertiser of 9 November 1914 at page 15. It speaks for itself:

post-7100-1148616665.jpg

For those hard of sight, here is the transcribed version:

Sir - I think Mr Owen Smyth deserves the highest praise and the best thanks of all Englishmen for his action and I am decidedly of the opinion that any Germans in the State employ or holding office of any sort under the Government of this State, or any of the others, if they have any honor in their composition, will at once place their resignation in the hands of the Government at all events until the war is over - I am &c WM JNO BROOK.

It was good to see prejudice alive and well in South Australia.

Cheers

Bill

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Bill Woerlee

Mates

While the German scare may have run riot, the Australian government did everything it could to dampen down passions. The Minister of Defence issued this statement to the press on 16 November 1914.

post-7100-1148786308.jpg

Part 2 to follow.

Cheers

Bill

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Bill Woerlee

Mates

Here's part 2

post-7100-1148786875.jpg

Apologies for the crappy quality but that is what happens with microfilm and time problems.

Cheers

Bill

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Bill Woerlee

Mates

Let's not forget that despite all the whipped up anti-German sentiment, the German settlers did not give up on Australia. Indeed, they sold themselves as a vital part of the war effort.

Here is an advertisement in the Advertiser of November 1914 that said many things at different levels.

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Apart from the obvious flogging of the Brandy to the troops for "medicinal" purposes, the statement implicit in this advertisement is bold and it speaks of the continuing support of the troops by the German community.

The image of the nurse - the giver and saver of life - holding out a glass of what purports to be Chateau Tanunda Brandy - to the wounded soldier is a clever mix of icons and messages. It might appear crass but it is a very clever piece of advertising and works at many levels. The most basic being the obvious question it asks the average Australian punter: "How could you boycott all things German when we give so much comfort to both you and your loved ones with our products?" Sheer genius.

Cheers

Bill

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Bill Woerlee

Mates

Three years later and a tens of thousands killed in France by the Germans and the feelings towards Germans in Australia has lost any of its kindness. It is no longer dominatd by hotheads trying to outbid each other in the name of jingoism. It is now the ruling structures that have a problem with the Germans.

This article details an attempt to disenfranchise people of German descent in the parliament of South Australia. The date is 8 November 1917.

post-7100-1148880347.jpg

If you read the arguments, disingenuous as they seem to us today, there is real anger towards any people of German descent by other parts of the population.

Cheers

Bill

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SiegeGunner

Bill,

'German Anzacs' is next up on my reading list (thanks to Robbie), once I finish the Haig Diaries. Thanks for posting the official pronouncements, which seem pretty fair and reasonable in the circumstances - although it seems evident that the authorities were as much concerned about the cost and economic disruption of interning 'Germans'.

Interesting too to see the statement that the war was between governments and peoples, not between individuals, and that the 'Germans' would still be there after the war. This shows a degree of insight and vision that you don't often see or hear about.

Cheers

Mick

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Bill Woerlee

Mick

G'day mate

Good pick up. In a sea of intollerance there were voices of reason. While there was popular clamour in some quarters to damn all things German and to collectively punish innocent people for the sins of another nation, the government held firm on this line. It must have been a very uncomfortable line to hold for any government at the time.

As for the book "German Anzacs" it is not a comfortable read in the sense that it will pander to stereotypes. It won't. Indeed it is quite iconoclastic and confrontational in dealing with the "official" version of the Great War. What it does expose are human beings facing real problems at a personal level in a nation that officially preached tollerance but unofficially did otherwise.

Having read many service records the experiences faced by the German Anzacs was by no means unique. The botch ups and incompetence was experienced by everyone without distinction. This was a universal experience. For the German Australians, already under attack, it is understandable why they should feel that they were being specifically sought out for heartless treatment.

In one instance I have a file where the official line is that a person is wounded and doing just fine in hospital. The desperate father writes in and asks why a Catholic Priest informed him that his son had died a month prior to the notification of all being well. This sets off a flurry of telegrams to establish the truth. At the same time the Catholic Priest comes in for a bit of stick and police investigation for rumour mongering. At the end of the day the priest is vindicated and the bereft father learns that his son had indeed died of wounds some months before and the letter informing him that his son was doing well was the best they could do under the circumstances. No sorry or beg your pardon. Sadly this is not an isolated case.

Cheers

Bill

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