‘The enemy within’

This was the phrase often used to describe ‘enemy aliens’ - non-naturalised residents of Australia who had been born in countries that were now the enemy.

The 1911 census showed that there were 33,381 German-born residents in Australia, most of whom lived in South Australia and Queensland. These German citizens had to register at local police stations.

However, the war caused many Australians to turn against their German neighbours, even though they may even have been naturalised and had sons fighting in the AIF. This hostile attitude was sometimes the result of jealousy, but was also encouraged by the crude official anti-German propaganda. Local authorities also often trampled on the human rights of these people with unjustified searches, surveillance and arrest. 4500 ‘Germans’ were interned during the war, 700 of whom were naturalised and 70 Australian born. At the end of the war, 6150 Germans and other enemy alien nationals were deported.

However, the majority of German nationals living in Australia managed mostly to escape public notice and persecution.

To investigate this aspect of the Home Front experience by using evidence from the time, see Home Fronts at War, Ryebuck Media for ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland.

(More about the book HOME FRONTS AT WAR)