German Australians suffered 'enemy heritage' persecution during war

Historians in the News
tags: WW I, German Australians



In 1914, no one with German heritage was above suspicion. Not even South Australia’s Attorney General, Hermann Homburg.

"The army came and stood outside his ofice with the rifles and demanded that he leave," historian Ian Harmstorf says. "If he didn't leave voluntarily they were going to frog-march him out of Parliament house."

This incident reflects strong anti-German sentiment that saw almost 40 Lutheran schools closed, and German-language classes banned.

Those wanting to serve in the defence force faced barriers and some changed their names in order to enlist.

Mr Harmstorf says others changed their names to avoid persecution, even those who’d been here for generations. ...




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