Somes Prisoners

Chapter Five


The Great War was clearly a traumatic time for Germans in New Zealand. Being far from events in Europe, saw many New Zealanders express their pent-up anger towards those who were accessible. It was not unrealistic that a Government would install regulations and legislation, and make some use of internment, to control an immigrant population with whose birth-country they were now at war. The British Government, and its propaganda machine, in combination with the Hague Convention played important roles in what happened here. One sought to raise morale by inciting hatred and by focusing it on the people of the Central Powers. The other required, but did not always get, tolerance and consideration for those it covered. The Government, and especially Sir James Allen (Minister of Defence and Acting Prime Minister during Massey’s absences between 1917 and 1919) clearly recognised the excessiveness of New Zealand’s anti-German fervour. It is apparent too that the Government also protected the German communities to a certain extent. The easing of anti-enemy alien legislation and regulations from 1923 infers improved relations between the German and wider communities by that time. However, the wartime experience of these people could not just fade away. 

© Val Burr, 2003