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Safe Haven: Records of the Jewish Experience in Australia


Alien registration

Prior to 1914, the special branches of state police departments had responsibility for monitoring the activities of radical political groups or suspect individuals. This situation changed following the outbreak of World War I due to concerns about security, the activities of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the conscription debate. With Australia actively involved as a British 'dominion' in the war, the Federal Government enacted alien registration regulations, under the War Precautions Act, and in 1916 the Special Intelligence Bureau was created in Melbourne within the Prime Minister's Department. Most records of Commonwealth investigations into suspected groups or persons date from that time.48

The War Precautions Regulations demanded that all currently resident non-citizens (over 15 years of age), or those entering the country, must be registered as 'aliens'. The regulations were replaced by the Aliens Registration Act 1920, which remained in force until 1926. Aliens were required to submit registration forms at the nearest police station. The forms in question are a useful source of basic biographical detail on non-naturalised persons, and an often valuable supplement to naturalisation and other immigrant records.

Form A1 (for aliens resident in the Commonwealth before 1916) includes full name, nationality, birthplace, birthdate, occupation, usual place of abode, place of business, date of entry into the Commonwealth, a personal description, and signature (occasionally in Hebrew). Some cards also contain a thumbprint. In addition to the above details, Form A2 (for aliens entering the Commonwealth after 1916) includes name of vessel, port of embarkation, place of abode (abroad), and passport particulars. Registration requirements remained in force until June 1926. Therefore, aliens registration (or application) forms may provide detail on individuals until that date. The forms are held at several locations. For example:

ALIENS REGISTRATION FORMS, ANNUAL SERIES BY NATIONALITY, 1916–20
Brisbane
The forms of application for registration, under War Precautions Regulations (1916), contain details of name, nationality, birthplace, date–of–birth, place of residence, occupation, port of embarkation, date of entry into Commonwealth, and personal description.
Series: BP4/3
Quantity: 12.60 metres
Recorded by: 1916–1920: Headquarters, 1st Military District, Commonwealth (Australian) Military Forces (CA 1219)
Applications for registration under the War Precautions (Alien Registration) Regulations of 1916 – RUSSIAN JEWS, RUSSIAN–POL and SOUTH AMERICAN, 1916–36 BP4/3, BOX 70 A to Z
RECORDS OF ALIENS 1914–19
Hobart
Series: A401
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1914–1919: 6th Military District (CA 754)
Record of Aliens, 6th Military District, Morris Epstein, born Poland, District Register W3/29/103, c1914–18 A401, EPSTEIN
Record of Aliens, 6th Military District, Harry Epstein, born Hobart, District Register W95/2/176, c1914–18 A401, EPSTEIN
NATIONAL SECURITY – 'ALIENS' AND ALIEN REGISTRATION FORMS, 1916–22
Sydney
The series contains registrations on Forms A1 and A2, War Precautions (Aliens Registration) Regulations, 1916.
Series: SP43/3
Quantity: 26 metres
Recorded by: 1916–1917: Special Intelligence Bureau, Central Office (Melbourne) (CA 746); 1917–1919: Special Intelligence Bureau, NSW (CA 909)
Fanny Fagelman (Russian; aliens registration form), 1916 SP43/3, NN
Rosa Falstein (Russian; aliens registration form), 1916–18 SP43/3, NN
Abraham Feldman (Russian), 1919 SP43/3, NN

Material held in Western Australia is of particular interest, as it provides detail on a number of Jewish emigrants who came to Australia from Palestine in the early 1900s. Palestine was held by the Turks until 1917.49

REGISTER OF ALIENS MAINTAINED UNDER WAR PRECAUTIONS REGULATIONS, 1916–20
Perth
The register consists of two sets of cards, numbered Forms A1 and A2.
Series: PP14/3
Quantity: 17.68 metres
Recorded by: 1916–1920: Headquarters, 5th Military District (I), CMF (CA 4811); 1919–1920: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
Forms A1: eg Berinson, Morris; Cohen, Israel; Finkelstein, Borouch; Hyman, Abraham; Zeitlin, Joseph, 1916–20
Forms A2: eg Solomons, Rachel; Segall, Samuel, 1916–20

Former citizens of countries at war with Britain (and the Empire) during World War I were promptly designated 'Enemy aliens', subject to rigorous surveillance and, in some cases, to detention in internment camps. For more detail, see the following records:

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH YEAR PREFIX, 1916–27, AND 'C' PREFIX, 1927–53
Canberra
Series: A367
Quantity: 64.08 metres
Recorded by: 1916–1919: Special Intelligence Bureau (CA 746)
Official files relating to enemy aliens, 1915–16 A367, 1916/43/1
INTELLIGENCE SECTION RECORDS 1914–23
Melbourne
The series consists of individual case files; subjects include registration of aliens, recommendations for internment, repatriation of enemy aliens, investigation of suspected spies or disloyalty 'offenders'.
Series: MP16/1
Quantity: 13.68 metres
Recorded by: 1914–1923: Intelligence Section, General Staff, 3rd Military District, CMF (CA 1841)
Rosenbaum, Louis (ex–SS 'Hesser'), 1914 1914/1/195
Wertheim (Suspicious activities), 1914 MP16/1, 1914/3/418
Rosenhain, D W (Suspicious activities), 1914 MP16/1, 1914/3/596
Particulars of enemy aliens reporting at Carlton [3 pages], 1915 MP16/1, 1915/3/342
List of interned enemy aliens and de–naturalised persons of enemy origin, 1919 MP16/1, Y1920/104
INTELLIGENCE REPORTS OF INTERNMENTS, REPATRIATIONS, AFFILIATIONS and GENERAL INVESTIGATIONS, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1915–20
Perth
The files contain reports of investigations by WA police, at request of Military Intelligence, into activities, movements and statements of aliens. Material includes recommendations regarding the internment or arrest of enemy aliens.
Series: PP14/1
Quantity: 6.48 metres
Recorded by: 1915–1919: Headquarters 5th Military District (I), CMF (CA 4811); 1919–1920: Investigation Branch, WA (CA 908)
EPSTEIN, Sim, c1915–20 PP14/1, 1/2/151
GOLDSTEIN, Nathan, c1915–20 PP14/1, 1/2/471

Notes

Chapter notes | All notes

48 Paul R. Bartrop, "The Dunera affair: a Scandal for Whom?", AJHSJ 11(1), 1990, p.14-19; Cyril Pearl, The Dunera Scandal, Syd 1983; Benzion Patkin, The Dunera Internees, Syd 1979.

49 Paul R. Bartrop & Gabrielle Eisen (eds), The Dunera Affair: a Documentary Resource Book, Melb 1990.


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Chapter 5
Enemy Aliens and Internees