Darren: Now this particular record is of a slightly similar nature. It relates to Tasmanian enemy aliens and investigations. It tends to combine the role of enemy alien registration form with that of providing a brief investigation report of the subject concerned. In those instances, naturally, where investigation appeared to justify incarceration the subjects would inevitably find themselves taken into custody under the relevant war precautions regulation and confined to one of the internment camps.
[Slide shows photograph of a typed document in table format. With onscreen text title -148- and eight columns, General Number, Surname, Christian Name, Nationality, Date of Birth, Last date of internment, Remarks.]
Darren: This particular series is a list of prisoners of war captured and interned in Australia. It’s the most comprehensive listing that the archives have of First World War internees. It comprises of a typed alphabetical role providing limited information on each internee in a standardised form. This includes a general number for each internee and specifics relating to their surname, Christian name, nationality, date of birth, last place of internment, date of internment and remarks. In this last field there are generally details of the release of each individual from internment after the conclusion of the war. Generally the subject is reported as being repatriated with the name of the ship given or released on parole with the relevant dates for either event. The internees were also, as we saw previously, photographed.
[Slide shows a page from a photograph album containing nine black and white photographs of different men in three by three formation. Each is holding a white sign with black numbers on it. With onscreen text title NAA Series D3597: Control symbol ALBUM: Album of identification photographs of enemy aliens (civilians and Prisoner of War) interned at Liverpool camp, NSW during World War I.]
Darren: The National Archives holds several albums of photographs of internees; however, they appear to have all derived from the same group of images contained in this particular series. It’s entitled Album of identification photographs of enemy aliens (civilians and Prisoner of War) interned at Liverpool camp, NSW during World War I. It comprises 654 numbered pages of which all but the last ten contain photographs of individual internees mounted in three rows of three. Over 300 individual photographs are unfortunately missing and are represented in the album by penciled numbers. It’s possible that the glass plate negatives were broken or lost before the album was actually compiled. Helpfully, there is also a typed index of 103 pages giving the names and numbers of all of the subjects covered by the album. The photographs are thought to have been taken by the camp authorities to serve as identification in the event of a possible breakout by the internees. Last year, all of the photographs from the album were digitised and are now viewable on our catalogue online. As can be seen from the gentleman in the centre there …
[Darren indicates the middle photograph on the slide, showing an older man lying in a hospital bed.]
Darren: … many internees were in the latter years of life and did not always enjoy good health. In many cases their ailments were worsened by internment and, inevitably, some didn’t survive to be paroled or deported.
[Darren looks up at slide screen and presses button to change to next slide. However, the slide is not shown here.]
Darren: This series is a nominal roll of deceased enemy internees who died whilst in internment. It is a handwritten, alphabetical list of approximately 225 individuals who died during internment, together with an index. The pages are divided into columns within which are recorded the individual’s internee number, name, date of death, place of death and the camp at which they were interned. It also lists the cause of death and the actions taken concerning personal effects at the time of death; for instance whether the camp officers destroyed the personal items or had them forwarded to the deceased’s relatives. This particular internee was accidentally drowned whilst bathing at the Torrens Island camp in 1914.
Moving on to World War Two internees and relevant records that are held.
At the time when World War Two broke out in 1939, the agency in charge of investigating enemy and alien subjects, as well as members of Australian-based organisations whose activities were considered potentially detrimental to the war effort, was the investigation branch within the Attorney General’s department. This had been formed in 1919 by the amalgamation of the Special Intelligence Bureau and the Commonwealth police force. It coordinated the investigation staff of Commonwealth departments and reduced the Commonwealth’s reliance on the state police forces for assistance with investigations. On the outbreak of war the investigation branch and the police were instructed to hand over their files to military intelligence, who had overall responsibility for identifying those to be interned.
The main correspondence series for the investigation branches operations in Victoria, identified as B741, comprised of almost 12,000 files covering all facets of the branches’ duties between 1924 and 1962. Those duties also included immigration- and passport-related investigations. Once again, all of these files are name-searchable on our record search catalogue.
Progressing from investigation to actual internment.
[Screen shows photograph of a typed document].
Darren: The recordkeeping for World War Two internees tended to be more centralised, with two extremely informative collections of records being prominent and easily accessed. Both were generated by the Prisoner of War Information Bureau, an agency established to comply with Article 77 of the Geneva Convention, requiring each belligerent power, at the start of hostilities, to institute an official bureau to give information about prisoners of war within its territory. It was set up in Melbourne after the commencement of the war and was headed by an army officer and staffed by civilians. The two record collections in question are titled: Registers containing service and casualty forms of enemy prisoners of war and internees held in camps in Australia, and one of those records is shownhere …
[Darren indicates document on the screen]
Darren: … and Dossiers containing reports of internees and prisoners of war held in Australian camps.
Both collections cover every internee, both local and those from overseas and prisoner of war, held in Australia through the duration of the war, and consist of standard types of records. The first mentioned forms are identical to those found on all Australian army service records.
[Darren sips from a glass of water.]
Darren: That is the service casualty form seen here and have been adapted for use for internees and prisoners of war. Information recorded about each subject includes identification number, name, date of capture, place of capture, date and place of birth, occupation, religion, nationality, marital status, name and address of next of kin, colour of hair and eyes and any distinctive marks. Information about the period of detainment including hospitalisations, disciplinary matters, transfers between camps, release and repatriation were also recorded on these forms.
This particular service and casualty form relates to a local Japanese internee, Yasukichi Murakami, who was a professional photographer living in Darwin. He was 60 years of age when, like almost all Japanese civilians, he was interned in December 1941. As the form shows, he later died at Tatura internment camp in June 1944.
The second group of records …
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing and black and red handwriting on pale background: onscreen text with the heading Japanese - Internee - Service and Casualty Form.]
Darren:… somewhat misleadingly called dossiers containing reports, generally comprised of another standard type of form. This one specific to internees and prisoners of war to some extent duplicates personal information provided on the service and casualty forms, but with some additional details such as dates of arrival in Australia together with the name of ship and a property statement.
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing on pale background: onscreen text with heading Japanese (stamped on) – Report on Prisoner of war.]
Darren That is a property statement that sometimes consists of quite detailed lists of prisoners’ possessions. In the case of Yasukichi Murakami it records that he was an Australian resident for 44 years, having arrived in Broome in August 1897 aboard the ship Saladin. For his property statement there is …
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing on pale green background: onscreen text with heading: Japanese – Property Statement – Prisoner of war.]
Darren: … a separate list which, it goes room by room and lists all of his furniture and household possessions …
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing on pale green background listing possessions, with the heading Murakami]
Darren: … right down to kitchen utensils, scrubbing brushes and even a child’s tricycle. This can be compared with the more succinct property statement of Giuseppe Lopo, a 40-year-old Italian plumber from Innisfail in Queensland.
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing on pale green background listing possessions and which room they were in.]
Darren: And his property statement merely lists …
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing on pale green background: onscreen text with heading: Italian stamped on) – Report on Prisoner of war.]
Darren: … six pound eight shillings and four pence cash in hand.
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing on pale green background]
Darren: One pound and five pence in the Commonwealth Savings Bank Brisbane and the tools of his trade valued at approximately one hundred pounds.
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing on pale yellow background, featuring two photographs of the same man; one in suit and tie and the other with the number E40618; also two sets of fingerprints, onscreen text with heading: Refugee – … for Registration.]
Darren: Upon the outbreak of war in September 1939 there were over 70,000 German and Austrian refugees in Britain, many awaiting entry visas to the United States and other countries. In the main they’d fled from Nazi oppression, but with the German conquest of France and planned invasion of Britain herself in June 1940, all male refugee classified enemy aliens under 71 years of age were interned in Britain. The Australian Commonwealth Government was asked and agreed to take 6,000 of these internees and on tenth of July, 1940, the first installment of just over 2,500 internees embarked aboard Her Majesty’s transport Dunera for Australia. Many of these were refugees, frequently Jewish and consequently anti-Nazi, with only a minority of several hundred Italian fascists and Nazis.
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing on off white background: onscreen text with heading: Copyright reserved.]
Darren: This particular record is actually taken from a series of applications for registration of aliens under the national security aliens control regulations, and in the left Commonwealth category of the wider series, there is a separate alphabetical run of forms for persons who arrived onboard the Dunera in 1941. In addition to many forms scattered throughout other categories bear the stamp of refugee. The entire 6,000 records in this series have been digitised and can be viewed on our website.
This particular form relates to Frederick Schroeder, 54-year-old German accountant who arrived aboard the Dunera.
[On screen shows slide of page of book with black handwriting on white paper and headings underlined in red.]
Darren: Advisory committees were established in each state shortly after the outbreak of war in accordance with Section 26 of the National Security General Regulations. The role was to review the cases of individuals interned under this section of the act, British subjects by birth and nationalised aliens, and make recommendations to the Minister of the Army regarding the advisability of release. In October 1940 the War Cabinet decided to establish a similar appeal process for enemy alien internees. The resulting aliens’ tribunals functioned along similar lines to the advisory committees.
The archives hold several collections of records resulting from the proceedings of these committees and tribunals, including a substantial collection of transcripts of evidence relating to individual objections against internment. The transcripts in this series consisting as they do of written records of an extremely searching question-and-answer process that went on at these tribunals, provide a wonderful insight into the security concerns of the authorities and the backgrounds, personal circumstances and outlook of the range of individuals who were caught up in the internment process.
[On screen shows slide of document with black typing and black handwriting, some underlined in red, on pale background: onscreen text with heading: Prisoner of War – Service and Casualty Form.]
Darren: Just as in the First World War, once again in the Second World War, not every internee was fortunate enough to survive the war. This is taken from a register of deceased internees; gives next of kin, personal effects and burial details compiled by the Prisoners of War Information Bureau, covers the period 1940 to ‘45. The entries are in chronological order and include details of …
[On screen shows slide of document with two black and white photographs of full front view and profile of a man and two thumb prints: onscreen text with heading: Personal details.]
Darren: … number and name of the deceased, date of birth, next of kin, assets, cash, personal effects and a reference number relating to a separate series of correspondence files.
[On screen shows slide of black and white photograph of six children with their heads poking out of two windows on a bus with blue and pink onscreen text: finding families – with more onscreen text in white on blue background: Genealogists.]
Darren: Their entries for 263 deceased internees.
Moving now to prisoners of war. As I previously mentioned the service and casualty forms and dossiers of reports are both comprehensive in their coverage of enemy POWs as well as internees, and are searchable online through our website by name.
This particular service and casualty form relates to Philip Willy Schmitz, an able-bodied seaman from the German naval raider Kormoran, a World War Two counterpart to the Wolf which was sunk in a duel off the West Australian coast in 1941 with the Australian cruiser Sydney. And the place of capture on the form is recorded as 70 miles north of Carnarvon. The form records that Philip was incarcerated in Murchison camp but was also employed on a labour detail cutting timber at Greytown and repatriated in January 1947.
A less comprehensive but more varied collection of records for prisoners of war are prisoner of war files, series number A7919 of which over 5,700 are held in our Canberra office, but are viewable online. These files generally contain photographs of the individual prisoners as well as details of their employment, reports on their behaviour by camp authorities and even translations of excerpts from their personal mail.
For a few localities around Australia we also hold prisoner of war identity cards.
[On screen shows slide of black typing on off-white background and black handwriting with onscreen text with heading: Identity Card – Prisoner of War.]
Darren: Which this is an example, issued by the local prisoner of war control centres in charge of regulating those Italian internees released into rural labour. These are often of particular interest because they give the names and addresses of the prisoner’s employers and the relevant dates of their employment.
Finally this concludes my overview of the most significant collections held by the National Archives relating to internees and prisoners of war in Australia during both world wars, with an emphasis on what is available online through our website.
There are a great number of other records in our holdings which relate to the administration and experience of internees and prisoners of war, as well as to internees belonging to specific groups and in specific circumstances. Many of these other records can be discovered through a simple keyword search on our online catalogue.
There are also some resources produced by the National Archives which will assist the researcher to …
[On screen shows slide of poster, part of which shows photographs of men’s and women’s heads; underneath are sepia photographs of a large area encompassed by barbed wire with two wooden gates attached to a wooden gateway, with the figure of a man walking through the gates. The heading in white on blue background says: In the Interest of National Security.]
Darren: … find records relevant to this particular subject. The most immediately accessible of these are the fact sheets which are available on our website and in printed form in our reading rooms. These provide a concise introduction to what record series are held by the various offices in various states, with many of the records identified as being available online.
For more detailed information we have several published guides which are likely to be of interest. That is the Finding families which is the general guide to collections of National Archives; it contains significant sections on internee and prisoner of war records. This particular publication in the interest of national security, civilian internment in Australia during World War Two, provides case studies of …
[On screen shows slide of two posters. The first shows black and white photograph of two women and three men walking along a track with trees on the side. The heading printed in white on a purple background reads: Safe Haven – records of the Jewish experience in Australia. The second shows black and white photograph of a large group of people, some sitting and some standing, with a background of Sydney Harbour with a ship and further in the distance Sydney Harbour Bridge. The heading printed in black on a light brown background reads: Allies, Enemies and Trading Partners – Records on Australia and the Japanese.]
Darren: … ten different people of various ethnic origins and political beliefs who were interned, and discusses the profound effects internment had on their lives as well as giving a brief overview of Australia’s internment policies and a detailed guide to finding relevant records in the archives.
And finally two separate guides.
[Slides with onscreen text: Safe Haven – records of the Jewish experience in Australia and Allies, Enemies and Trading Partners – records of Australia and the Japanese.]
Darren: These two guides concentrate more specifically on the Jewish and Japanese experiences, with each having significant space devoted to records documenting the internment of these two groups.
Thank you very much.
[On screen slide shows white words on a grey background: Your story, our history with the logos of the Australian Government and National Archives of Australia beneath.]