The measures taken against German-Australians in South Australia
During the first World War, German settlers in South Australia and Australia became known as ‘the enemy within’ and extreme measures were put in place to deal with the threat felt by the predominately-British population.
The names of places that had been named by Germans were changed and German settlers were interned or deported and taken to work camps on Torrens Island.
Torrens Island detention camp was set up and held 400 german men during the First World War.
German established schools were closed, the German language was no longer taught in schools and German’s lost the right to vote.
Because of this German families began to change their name as a means of avoiding persecution and to prove their commitment to their new home.
If you were a German-born resident of Australia you had to register at your local police station, and most German-descendents were treated in similar ways.
German residents of Australia were inflicted with hostile attitudes even if they were naturalised and had sons and brothers fighting for the Australian Infantry Force.
Australian authoritities would target German residents with unjustified searches, survelliance and arrest.
During the war 4500 Germans in Australia were interned- 700 were naturalised and 70 were Australian born.
Photo: Private John Philip Saunders (centre) was reported missing in action on the Korean Peninsula in January 1953. (Supplied: Ian Saunders)
The search for answers.
“I just want closure — all the families feel the same way,” says Ian Saunders OAM.
His father, Private John Philip Saunders, was one day shy of 26 when he was reported missing on the Korean Peninsula in January 1953.
Now 73, Ian Saunders has used official Canberra war diaries and declassified Australian and United States military documents to try to piece together what happened to his father and other missing servicemen.
He has become a leading voice in the families’ campaign to repatriate remains, and is unhappy with the pace of Australia’s investigation into its missing.
“It’s taken too long,” Mr Saunders says.”[Australia has] recovered and identified remains, if we can, in all the wars that Australians have served in since the Boer War.
“So, why hasn’t the government done anything about it is a very good question.”