ERNST KROPF (R36861)
Ernst Kropf was born on 24 April 1914 in Bremen, Germany. He began work as a shipping agent in Bremen for D.D.G. "Hansa" – the second largest shipping company in Germany with services mainly to India and the Persian Gulf. He was transferred to the post in Bandar Shapour in Persia (Iran) at the end of 1937.
At the time of the invasion of Persia, he attempted to escape, but was captured shortly before he reached the Turkish border. He was taken prisoner in Isfahan on 30 September 1941 and, after some weeks in an internment camp in Basra, Iraq, he with approximately 20 others German civilians from Iran, was transferred to Palestine- first to Haifa, then Rehovat near Tel Aviv and then the POW camp Latrun for special investigation. From there he was transported to Australia; from Suez on the Queen Mary and from Ceylon to Australia on the Queen Elizabeth. He arrived at the Loveday internment camp in South Australia on the 19th December 1941, one month later than the larger group of Germans from Persia.
Initially, he was interned in Camp 10, Loveday. He founded sports groups while in the camp and played soccer, hockey and tennis. He was also involved in tunnel building. He also took part in a theatre production of “The Importance of Being Ernest”, taking on the role of Gwendoline. He is photographed with both the Templer Abitur student group of 1944 and the Hockey group in Loveday and is in several other group photos in both the Loveday and Tatura camps.
In January 1945 he and many of his fellow internees from Persia and Palestine were transferred to Camp 1 near Tatura in the Goulburn Valley region of Victoria. He was released to South Australia in August 1946, with his friend Siegfried de Trey (R36802).
Kropf worked in a wine cellar (T. Hanisch) in the Barossa Valley. This position was obtained through Pastor Theodor Hebart of Tanunda, SA with whom he lived for a time. He was very good friends with Pastor Hebart’s son Werner Hebart (S3142). Hebart was born in Tanunda, a British subject who was classified as one of the ‘enemy aliens’ and, as victims of the wartime hysteria surrounding anything German or relating to Germany, interned along with the German Nationals from other parts of the world.
Kropf was able to organise employment in another vineyard for internees Hermann Thumm (R36799) and Christlieb Vohrer (R36811), who went on to begin their own vineyard, Chateau Yaldara in 1947. Thumm was another friend from the camp.
He did not stay long in South Australia but joined friends Edgar Abineri, (R36366), Victor Somann (E35314) and Freddie Siegfried de Trey (R36802) in Launceston, Tasmania where they worked at the Brisbane Hotel. He was employed as a drink waiter.
He married Joan Johnson (1929-2018) in Launceston in 1950. They had three children, Helene, Carleen and Anneliese.
Later he worked in the Finance Department at TAA for over twenty-five years. He played hockey with All Blacks Hockey Club. He became a member of the Masonic Lodge and enjoyed the fellowship of that organisation for many years.
Ernst died in Launceston, Tasmania, 7 May 2014, having reached 100 years of age.
"Written by Doris Frank, L. Böhmer's daughter, 18/10/2020"
Dr. Pedram Khosronejad | Adjunct Professor
Religion and Society Research Cluster | Western Sydney University
Fellow | Department of Anthropology | Harvard University