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"NZ's Hun Question" - Free talk on Enemy Aliens in WW1


Wed 3 Jun 2015, 12:15pm

Where: ASB House, 101 The Terrace, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free


Listed by: MCH Admin

Please join us at a public history talk to hear historian Andrew Francis talk on 'The Dominion’s “Hun Question” - Enemy aliens and the New Zealand experience during the Great War'.

The outbreak of war in August 1914 dealt a blow to New Zealand’s German population. Despite having established themselves as part of the social, cultural and economic fabric of the dominion since their arrival in the early 1840s, many German residents experienced during the course of the war a virulent campaign of public hostility which, in many instances, was reflected in the antagonistic tone adopted by the popular press. The government, led by Ulster-born William Massey, acted swiftly, introducing legislation to expel German residents from their places of employment and placing restrictions on their movement; those considered a danger to domestic security were interned on Somes Island in Wellington and Motuihe Island in Auckland.

This presentation discusses a still under-researched aspect of New Zealand’s war on the home front. It assesses the government, press and public’s conduct interwoven with Germans settlers’ wartime experiences. It considers the government’s task in attempting to safeguard the dominion’s security while remaining fair and just to New Zealand’s German communities; it analyses the role of the press, in particular those who fostered an increasingly hostile anti-German spirit; and it discusses the extent to which the public’s reaction to the ‘enemy in our midst’ was both a pseudo-patriotic response to wartime conditions and the culmination of an anti-foreigner campaign developed throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

About the speaker:
Andrew Francis lives in Wellington. His book, ‘To Be Truly British We Must Be Anti-German’: New Zealand, Enemy Aliens and the Great War Experience, 1914-1919 (Peter Lang: Oxford, 2012), is a study of the treatment of New Zealand’s enemy alien population during the Great War. His other research interests include British imperial advertising, British film propaganda of the Second World War and the role of juvenile literature in wartime.

Date: Wednesday 3 June at 12.15pm
Venue: Ministry for Culture and Heritage,
L4 ASB House, 101 The Terrace, Wellington.

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Image: German prisoners of war on Somes Island during World War One. Taken by an unknown photographer circa 1916. Courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library. Reference: 1/2-112327-F

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