Anglo patriotism lashes South Australia's Germanic settlers after start of World War I

The German school in Wakefield Street, Adelaide.
Image courtesy State Library of South Australia


The closing of 49 Lutheran schools and changing many town names was part of the fierce backlash against South Australian Germans during World War I and especially after Gallipoli and sinking of the Lusitania.

But “German” was a misleading identity for the 7% (28,000) of the population, and South Australia’s largest non-British group, in the early 20th Century. South Australian Germans were divided and disunited by culture, class and country of origin. But they spoke German and clung to aspects of traditional lifestyle.

In early 20th Century Adelaide, German speakers could go through a day without needing English when they shopped, went to the doctor or dentist; read the Australische Zeitung in a konditorei (coffee shop) or dined in the city’s German hotels: the King of Hanover or the Hamburg in Rundle Street.

German influence remained ingrained in the state’s culture. Only South Australians knew and liked Carl Linger’s “The Song of Australia”. Only South Australians liked Menz Yo-Yo biscuits – or fritz.
The German wine legacy was entrenched through figures such as Joseph Seppelt. In music, Herman Heinicke (assaulted by students in the anti-German wave of 1914) and Immanuel Reimann were central to Adelaide College of Music and Elder Conservatorium.

German schools were closed, with the teachers union’s strong support, in 1917 after the initial moves to ban German language lessons and church services. German clubs and newspapers were shut and Lutheran churches in Edithburg and Netherby were burnt down.

German settlement history was wiped from the map when 67 place names were changed. These included Klemzig (changed to Gaza), Hahndorf (Ambleside), Petersburg (Peterborough), Bethanien (Bethany) and Blumberg (Birdwood).

 

 

 

 

Other related ADELAIDEAZ articles

Brenton Langbein starts Die Kammermusiker Zurich, adding to his international renown

Brenton Langbein, another South Australian violin prodigy who started studies at five, gave his first recital in Tanunda Town Hall at eight. Born at Gawler in 1928 to German/Scottish parents, he won a scholarship to the Elder Conservatorium at 11, studied under Ludwig Schwab and started playing with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at 14. In 1948, at 20, Brenton joined Sydney Symphony Orchestra and became a solo performer, while studying composition under Eugene Goosens. He moved to Europe in 1951 to study in Switzerland and Vienna and with cellist Pablo Casals. In 1953, he settled in Zurich and led Paul Sacher's Collegium Musicum Chamber Orchestra. Appointed violin professor at Basel Academy, he formed an acclaimed duo with Australian pianist Maureen Jones and a trio with Jones and horn player Barry Tuckwell. Langbein founded and led the renowned Die Kammermusiker Zurich that performed in Europe, England, America and Australia. He started youth orchestra schools in Zurich and Basel and was musical director of Zurich Opera Factory. He played and conducted in Australia and was musical director of Adelaide Chamber Orchestra. He died in Zurich in 1993 and is buried at Lyndoch in the Barossa Valley where the auditorium of Tanunda arts and convention centre carries his name.

Alexander Schramm, South Australia's first professional artist, captures its realities

Alexander Schramm, who travelled from Hamburg to Adelaide on the Prinzessin Luise in 1849, aged 35, was the most accomplished professional artist active in colonial South Australia and the first to be trained in Europe – at Berlin Academy of Arts. With a reputation in Germany, he won prizes at the South Australian Society of Arts exhibitions of the 1850s and 1860s, before died in 1864, aged 50. Unlike his colonial contemporaries, Schramm produced markedly different styles and genres from a wide sophisticated  background. Schramm did finely wrought oil portraits of Adelaide gentry, an outstanding religious painting, small chalk lithographs of colonial scenes, and a plaster bust of an Adelaide notable. His range of styles was matched by an intellect sharply critical of colonial realities, especially regarding Aboriginal people. Most of Schramm’s creativity was devoted to depicting Aboriginal people with sympathy at a time Europeans were destroying tribal life. Adelaide, a tribe of natives on the banks of the river Torrens (1850) is Schramm’s first and largest known painting. It shows Kaurna people in Adelaide parklands. Schramm was the first South Australian artist to depict the distinctive red river gum trees. Several works were initially lithographs that Schramm produced for a wider market from 1854, using Adelaide firm Penman and Galbraith. Schramm won first prize in the South Australian Art Union Exhibition in 1859 for another important Aboriginal-theme painting, Bush Visitors, that a newspaper had previously called Blacks at a Cottage Door.  

Menz and Co. keeps on growing from its 1850 start as a small shop in Wakefield St., Adelaide

The 1885-1910 turn-of-the-century era saw W. Menz and Co. making more leaps of growth. The Menz biscuit story had started in 1850 with a small Wakefield Street, Adelaide, grocery shop/bakery run by John Menz and his wife Magdalena who arrived in Adelaide from Hamburg on the Steinwaerder the year before.
When John, a qualified architect, died in 1856, Magdalena ran the store until one of her two sons, William, became one of Adelaide’s first biscuit makers and, in 1867, took control of the small company. In 1885, W. Menz and Co. built a plant to increase biscuit production and, in 1893, expanded into confectionary. During 1910, it grew again to produce more chocolate under the name Menzona. Over the next 30 years, it increased production and introduced new products, including the honey-flavoured Yo-Yo biscuits, in 1932. As a public company in 1951, the company kept expanding in a bigger Marleston factory with its Yo-Yos, Crown Mints (1892) and FruChocs (1948), now South Australian icons. By the mid-1960s, after takeovers and mergers, W. Menz & Co amalgamated to form Arnott-Motteram-Menz. Arnott’s took over biscuit and confectionery production and was eventually sold in 1992 to the Sims family’s South Australian dried and confectionary Robern Dried Fruits, later to become Robern Menz of Glynde. The former Menz products still are being produced but Arnotts removed Yo-Yos from their family assorted packets in 1997 because they weren't popular enough Australia wide. Menz FruChocs was declared a South Australian icon by the National Trust in 2005.


 

Schomburgks brothers' Buchfelde vineyard and farm leads 1849 German migrants settlement

Richard von Schomburgk and his brother Otto led the settlement of Buchfelde, named in honour of geologist Leopold von Buch who helped finance the charter of the Prinzessin Luise that brought the group of German liberal intellectuals and their families from Hamburg to Adelaide in 1849. The Schomburgks bought land next to the Gawler River and near Gawler Town, north of Adelaide, that became the core of a settlement for the Princess Louise group. The Schomburgks were anxious to fulfil the faith of another famous geologist Alexander von Humboldt and the Berlin Academy of Sciences who’d also backed their venture. But their first priority was survival by farming their Buchfelde property. Richard Schombugk brought a background as botanist and former gardener at Sanssouci, Frederick the Great's palace at Potsdam. Shortly after their arrival in 1849, the Schomburgks had 60 acres under crop and cattle and developed an orchard and vineyard. The vineyard produced several excellent wines. Richard Schomburgk introduced the sultana grape to South Australia. The brothers became involved in the wider community, with Otto, a justice of the peace, starting the Süd-Australische Zeitung newspaper and being one of the first trustees of Gawler Town and Investment Society in 1856 ­– a year before he died, aged 48. Richard became chairman of the Mudla Wirra District Council in 1861 and the curator of the Gawler Museum. In 1865, he was appointed director of the Adelaide Botanic Garden and sold his vineyard to chemist Carl Thorop who leased it to neighbouring vigneron Friedrich bis Winckel.

 

Carl Linger's 1859 'The Song of Australia' becomes a candidate for the national anthem

Carl Linger, an intellectual refugees from the 1848 German liberals' revolution, wrote the melody for the patriotic “The Song of Australia” in 1859. Linger, who had studied at the Institute of Music in Berlin, came to South Australia in 1849 on the Princess Luise. He settled in Gawler, grew potatoes and went broke but had much more success in Adelaide where he won access to the wealthiest families as a music teacher. He was the founder and conductor of the German Liedertafel in 1858 and composed church music, including the “Ninety-third Psalm” and “Vater unser”. He conducted Adelaide's first philharmonic orchestra and its first performance of Handel's Messiah in 1859. He often visited the Lutheran pastor Gotthard Fritzsche at Lobethal to attend his choir rehearsals. Linger was active in most of the musical and choral societies. For several years, he played the harmonium at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral. Caroline Carleton’s “The Song of Australia” poem won a contest at Gawler Institute. Next phase was a contest to compose the song for the poem and lodge it in a week. Of the 23 entries, Linger's tune won. “The Song of Australia” was a candidates for national anthem in the 1977 plebiscite. It was clear favourite only in South Australia.


 

Hotels part of everyday German-speaking life in Adelaide city at the start of 20th Century

Hotels were part of an Adelaide city experience, at the start of the 20th Century, when a whole day could be spent speaking German – at shops, to the doctor or dentist, and at a konditorei (coffee shop) reading Australische Zeitung newspaper. Woodmans Inn (now Producers) in Grenfell Street was associated in the early South Australian colony with German Adelaide Hills horticulturalists bringing produce to East End Market. Heinrich Wilhelm Emcke, who ran the Tivoli Hotel for many years, also had a Hindmarsh Square woodyard. The original German Club met for 20 years in hotels (the Hamburg in Rundle Street, then the Europe in Grenfell Street) before building its own elegant clubhouse, in Pirie Street, Adelaide, in 1879. An Adelaider Liedertafel choir was formed in 1850/51, conducted by Carl Linger, composer of “Song of Australia”, with rehearsals in Wiener-Fischer's cafe in Rundle Street until 1855. It merged with a male choir rehearsing in the Hotel Europe, also under Linger. Another Deutscher Liedertafel was founded at Hotel Hamburg in 1848-49. Hotel Europe, licensed in 1855, closed in 1883 when the YMCA bought the site. Ludwig Dreyer and family were associated with Prince Alfred Hotel in Wright Street for 124 years until 1976. Another German pub, the Black Eagle in Hindmarsh Square, from 1859, became the Aurora from 1894. Hans Heysen was a regular visitor in the 1900s. The hotel had long links with members of Flinders Street German Club and Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Demolition of the Aurora in 1983 was a watershed in heritage conservation in Adelaide city.

Contact Us

We welcome positive constructive feedback