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Research Guides


Safe Haven: Records of the Jewish Experience in Australia


'Enemy aliens' and internment (World War II)

As in World War I, the situation and status of German and Italian-speaking refugees (and others) changed dramatically once war had been declared. Registration requirements were reintroduced through the Aliens Registration Act 1939 and National Security (Aliens Control) Regulations 1939. Restrictions were imposed almost immediately on identified individuals (including those who arrived shortly after the formal declaration of war). 'Enemy aliens' were required to register with, and report regularly to, their local police station, and to obtain formal leave before travelling outside their area of residence. The possession (without permit) of cameras, radios, binoculars, motor vehicles, motorboats, firearms, even carrier-pigeons, was prohibited. In some cases (as in World War I), individuals or families were kept under surveillance by Government security agencies. For example, records of investigation of known or suspected enemy sympathisers by the NSW Branch of the Commonwealth Security Service, are located in the following series:

INVESTIGATION FILES (PERSONS AND ORGANISATIONS), ALPHA-NUMERIC SERIES, 1942–46
Sydney
Series: C320
Quantity: 4.5 metres
Recorded by: 1942–1945: Commonwealth Security Service, NSW (CA 946); 1945–1946: Commonwealth Investigation Branch, NSW (CA 904)
NSW Security Service file – Enemy aliens released from internment [2 pages, box 9], 1940–44 C320, I34

Also among records of the NSW branch of the Commonwealth Security Service is a series of dossiers on former German Jews in Australia, originally compiled by the German Consulate:

DOSSIERS ON JEWS RESIDENT IN AUSTRALIA COMPILED BY THE GERMAN CONSULATE, 1943–57
Sydney
This is a series of dossiers (113 files) dealing with Jews resident in Australia.
Series: C422
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1943–1945: Security Service, NSW (CA 946)
[Rudolf Klein], 1939 C422, 1
[Herman Koenig], 1938 C422, 14
[Alfred, Johanna and Rosel Rosenberg], 1938 C422, 26
[Karl Israel Plessner], 1939 C422, 34
[Julius Hermann Israel and Clara Sara Schneeweiss], 1939 C422, 83
[Alice Perl], 1939 C422, 102

Some records of dealings, under the National Security Regulations, with individual alien emigrants can be located in the correspondence of the various customs services. For example:

GENERAL AND CLASSIFIED CORRESPONDENCE, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1902–
Melbourne
Series: B13
Quantity: 54.90 metres
Recorded by: 1902–1985: Collector of Customs, Melbourne (CA 789)
H D Brasch, German Jew ex-'Strathmore' – re return of Camera, 1939 B13, 1939/50754

Official perspectives or policy and memoranda and other correspondence dealing with the 'enemy aliens' issue are located in:

DEFENCE ARMY SERIES (401), 1936–45
Melbourne
Series: MP729/6
Quantity: 26 metres
Recorded by: 1936–1939: Department of Defence (II), Central Administration (CA 19); 1939–1945: Department of the Army, Central Office (CA 36)
Refugees: Internment, Fifth Columnists, 1940 MP729/6, 29/401/273
Internees, 1939 MP729/6, 63/401/10
Alien Immigration, Refugees, etc, 1939 MP 729/6, 65/401/12
Control of Enemy Aliens, 1940 MP729/6, 65/401/50
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1941–49
Canberra
Series: A373
Quantity: 7 metres
Recorded by: 1941–1945: Security Service, Central Office, Canberra (CA 660); 1945–1946: Investigation Branch, Central Office, Melbourne and Canberra (CA 747); 1946–1949: Commonwealth Investigation Service, Central Office (CA 650)
Control of enemy aliens, 1941–43 A373, 578
Internments and Releases Policy, internment of enemy aliens – Representations by various organisations, 1942 A373, 1272
National service for refugee and enemy aliens, 1942–43 A373, 3644
Status and position of enemy aliens on discharge from Defence Forces of the Commonwealth, 1943 A373, 4840
Control of enemy aliens. Travel permits, change of abode, etc., 1942–45 A373, 8218
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, T SERIES, 1943–45
Canberra
Series: A376
Quantity: 0.1 metres
Recorded by: 1943–1945: Security Service, Tasmania (CA 748)
Enemy Aliens, 1940 A376, T252
Enemy aliens – orders to report, 1939–44 A376, T129
Restriction Orders – Enemy aliens, 1939–51 A376, T135
Aliens Control. Prohibited Possessions. Lists German, Austrian and Italian nationals registered in Tasmania as enemy aliens, 1939–45 A376, T212
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES WITH ALPHABETICAL PREFIX, 1928–56
Canberra
Series: A518
Quantity: 199.15 metres
Recorded by: 1928–1941: Territories Branch, Prime Minister's Department (CA 822); 1941–1951: Department of External Territories (I) (CA 42)
Defence – Enemy Aliens – Internees, escorts, etc, 1939–45 A518, AO16/2/1
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1901–76
Canberra
Series: A571
Quantity: 714.35 metres
Recorded by: 1901–1976: Department of the Treasury (I), Central Office (CA 11)
Military and other compulsory service for Refugee and enemy aliens, 1942–45 A571, 1942/538
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES, CLASS 1 (GENERAL, PASSPORTS), 1939–50
Canberra
Series: A659
Quantity: 101.25 metres
Recorded by: 1939–1945: Department of the Interior (II), Central Offic (CA 31)
List of enemy aliens naturalised Jul 1935 – Dec 1939, 1940
Organised by State and Territory, then alphabetically for each time-frame, this file provides details on Italian and German nationals including full name, address, date of birth and naturalisation certificate number, eg Zara Hallenstein and Max Herz, Sydney; Alfred Klein and Anita Rosenberg, Melbourne.
A659, 1940/1/8030
Internment of Enemy aliens – Appeals against, 1940–41 A659, 1940/1/8379
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTI–NUMBER SERIES WITH VARIABLE ALPHABETICAL PREFIX AND GENERAL PREFIX 'SC' (FOURTH SYSTEM), 1939–47
Canberra
Series: A1608
Quantity: 21.97 metres
Recorded by: 1939–1945: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
War 1939. Position of Aliens and Refugees – Time of War, 1939 A1608, N19/1/1 part 1
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1942–46
Canberra
This general, 'undifferentiated' series contains staff files, labour force surveys, policy records and ministerial correspondence.
Series: CP436/2
Quantity: 3.6 metres
Recorded by: 1943–1945: Fisheries Co–ordinating Authority, Department of War Organisation Industry (CA 79); 1945–1946: Fisheries Division (a) Post–war Reconstruction (CA 2104)
Enemy Aliens, 1944–45 CP436/2, BUNDLE 9/962/8
INVESTIGATION CASE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'SS' PREFIX, 1942–46
Adelaide
Files in this series cover a range of subjects, including aliens (registration and control), revocation of naturalisation, passports, internees, espionage and censorship.
Series: D1919
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1942–1946: Investigation Branch South Australia (CA 905)
Stateless Aliens [National Security (Aliens Control) Legislation – Registration of Stateless Aliens], 1942 D1919, SS959
ARMY GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1939–42
Melbourne
Series: MP508/1
Quantity: 0.72 metres
Recorded by: 1939–1942: Department of the Army, Central Office (CA 36)
Cameras – Property of enemy aliens, 1942 MP508/1, 4/703/1169
Status of Refugee Aliens, 1942 MP508/1, 4/703/1190
Nationality of Refugee Jews. Definition of 'Enemy Alien', 1942 MP508/1, 115/703/455

Commonwealth security measures during World War II included the internment of a number of German-speaking and Italian-speaking emigrants suspected of 'subversive activities' and a number of 'enemy nationals' who arrived in Australia after war was declared in September 1939. The adult male members of a party of 250 refugee men, women and children (mostly Jews) who came to Australia from Singapore on the troop ship Queen Mary in 1940 were promptly despatched to Tatura, for instance. The National Archives substantial holdings on World War II internees, include the following:

DOSSIERS CONTAINING REPORTS ON INTERNEES AND PRISONERS OF WAR HELD IN AUSTRALIAN CAMPS, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH ALPHABETICAL PREFIX, 1939–45
Melbourne
The files contain Forms A111, A114 and A111A, setting out all vital identification and property assessment information on each POW or internee.
Series: MP1103.2
Quantity: 18.29 metres
Recorded by: 1939–1945: Prisoners of War Information Bureau (CA 3055)
Report on Internee – Menasche Bodner (Polish Jew), 1940 MP1103/2, E39191
Report on Internee – Fritz Levy (German Jew), 1940 MP1103/2, E40054
DOSSIERS CONCERNING INTERNEES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1942–45
Sydney
This series consists of dossiers on persons interned in NSW during World War II.
Series: C123
Quantity: 36.36 metres
Recorded by: 1942–1945: Commonwealth Security Service, NSW (CA 946)
Seigbert Simon Israel COHEN – German Jew [Security Service, NSW, Dossier] [Box 8], 1939–44 C123, 1236
Fritz ROEHRICHT alias Frederick REED – German (Jew) [Security Service, NSW, Dossier] [Box 11], 1942-45 C123, 1310
Albert William HOFFMAN – Jewish [Security Service, NSW, Dossier] [box 12], 1939–42 C123, 1321
SUERBACH, Joseph and Stella – Austrian – Jewish refugee [Security Service, NSW, dossier] [16 pages, box 23], 1939–40 C123, 1708

Access to C123 can be facilitated by searching three subsequent – and related – series, all recorded by the Commonwealth Security Service, NSW:

KEY TO DOSSIERS, NUMERICAL REGISTER, 1939–45
Sydney
Series: C124
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1941–1945: Security Service, New South Wales (CA 946)
NATIONALITY INDEX CARDS TO DOSSIERS OF INTERNEES, 1942–45
Sydney
Series: C126
Quantity: 1.98 metres
Recorded by: 1942–1945: Security Service, New South Wales (CA 946)
NOMINAL INDEX CARDS (BY CITIZENSHIP) TO DOSSIERS ON INTERNEES, 1942-45
Sydney
Series: C125
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1942–1945: Security Service, New South Wales (CA 946)

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Chapter 5
Enemy Aliens and Internees