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INTERNEES

The British and Australian secret military and army communications of mid-1941 prove the fact that after their joint intervention with Russia, the British forces wanted to capture 1000 German civilians (men, women, and children) in Persia and send them through the southern port of Abadan to their war camps situated in India or Australia.

These documents reveal that beside German nationals, the British forces also detained 35 Italian citizens who lived in Iran, and left them in the hands of their forces in India. However, the rest of the internees from Iran were transferred to the Australian war camps. These very important military documents reveal that on November 19th 1941, 494 internees from Iran disembarked at the Outer Harbour at Port Adelaide:

“...S.S. Rangitiki arrived at Adelaide on Wednesday the 19th November, l941, at 1600 hours. The number of internees on board totalled 506 comprising 6 males, 6 females and 4 children in the family group from Iran, 12 German escapees from the French Foreign Legion from Singapore and 478 male Germans from Iran.

Owing to the late arrival of the ship the preparation of basic documents for those destined for 3 M.D. was very hurried, but successfully accomplished to allow the train to depart on time at 1833 hours. [Those for Tatura]

Immediately on the departure of this train arrangements were made to disembark the remaining internees for Loveday. These men were disembarked in batches of 55, being the number allotted to each carriage, and in spite of acute congestion at the gangway at times, due to the anxiety of the ship’s crew to go ashore, the entrainment of these internees was completed to allow the train to depart at 1907 hours according to schedule...

 

Today, based on these military archival materials, I can confirm that the majority of the 494 detainees of the British Empire were detained in the cities of Ahwaz, Bandar Shapour, Behshahr, Birjand, Boroujerd, Isfahan, Karind, Kerman, Kermanshah, Shiraz, Tehran, Tabriz, and Yazd between 15th August and 18th September 1941.

 

Most of them were from German families and were born in Germany; but some of them were citizens of other European countries who were working for German governmental institutions and companies in Iran when they were captured. For the British and Russian forces it was not important who was who and where they came from; if someone was working for a German company or their related allies, then they were considered a spy and should be detained.

Archival material reveals that among those 494 internees from Iran, there were 471 Germans, 18 Hungarians, two Czechs, and one each Pole, Dutch, and Belgian. However, further detailed archival studies may reveal new information.

Archival materials also confirm that there were six family groups (Dücker, Fuchs, Girschik, Leschan, Zoubeck, Zwieger) including six males, six females and four children among those 494 internees. These family groups on their arrival were sent to Camp No.3 of Tatura War Camps, situated in Victoria, and the rest of the 478 male internees were sent to Camp No.10, Loveday War Camps, near Barmera in South Australia.

The second group of eighteen detained civilians from Iran who were separated from the main group in the Basra temporary detention camp arrived on the “Queen Elizabeth” in Sydney on 15 December 1941, and transferred to the Loveday War Camps.

In 1942, forty-nine German Merchant Seamen detainees from Iran who disembarked with the rest of 494 internees at Adelaide (included in this number) were transferred from Camp No.10 of Loveday War Camps to the Murchison Prisoner of War Camp situated in Victoria, and one of them moved to the Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp situated in Western Australia. These transfers were performed because their status was reclassified from Civilian Internees to Prisoners of War (P.O.W.) and German Merchant Navy (PWGM).

By the end of 1942, there were a total number of 512 internees from Iran detained in Loveday Camp No.10, Marrinup Camp No.16, Murchison Camp No.13, and Tatura Camp No.3.

Further, by comparing the first lists of detainees in Iran with the list of those who arrived in Australia, I found out that five of them (Georg Becklau, Eduard Hiecke, Herbert Heackelberg, Johann Johansen, and Reinhard Kuhlenkampff) did not reach the Australian war camps and their fate changed while they were detained in the British temporary detention camp in Basra. Also, there are several missing detainees whose names were on the list of those who left Basra for India on the Rohna, but their names were not on the list of those who reached Australia on the “Rangitiki”. They are missing and I have no further information about this group of internees.

My archival research also reveals that since the date of their detention on Iranian soil, the youngest internee to reach Australian soil (Inga Zwieger R36365) was two years old and the oldest one (Hermann Koffmahne R36596) was 65.

 

The internees from Iran belonged to different religious groups including Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, Jewish, and Muslim.  

  

Apart from those six interned German families, 270 of the detained men were married, 160 of them were single, eight were divorced, and seven were widowers.

Between their first captivity in Iran and until the end of their detention period in the Australian war camps, eleven of the male internees passed away. The first one (Leopold Kurtz) died in the British temporary interrogation camp in Basra before their embarkation for Australia. Nine of them (Emil Gloye R36485, Hermann Koffmahne R36596, Friedrich Neumann R36664, Karl Nolte R36669, Wilhelm Karl August Schmidt R36753, Hubert Schmohl R36755, Ludwig Schnetzl R36760, Johann Tengler R36793, Wilhelm Wiecorek R36828) lost their lives during their detention period inside the Australian camps, and one of them (Paul Werner R36826) died during his repatriation to Germany while he was on board the “General Stuart Heintzelman”. 

During their detention in Tatura camp, two babies were born, Herbert Friedrich Girschik (R36355a) and Anton Alfred Zwieger (R36364a).

As far as I could investigate among these military documents, after the end of the war 266 of the German internees from Iran, including families and their children, were granted leave to stay in Australia, 122 of them were deported or repatriated to European countries, and only six of them (Victor Bienemann R36402, Kurt Hase R36504, Alfred Von Kamen -Senior- R36562, Alfred Von Kamen -Junior- R36561, Franz Schell R36738, Andreas Vogel R36809) decided to return to Iran, probably to continue their professional activities. 

Down Arrow

The British and Australian secret military and army communications of mid-1941 prove the fact that after their joint intervention with Russia, the British forces wanted to capture 1000 German civilians (men, women, and children) in Persia and send them through the southern port of Abadan to their war camps situated in India or Australia.

These documents reveal that beside German nationals, the British forces also detained 35 Italian citizens who lived in Iran, and left them in the hands of their forces in India. However, the rest of the internees from Iran were transferred to the Australian war camps. These very important military documents reveal that on November 19th 1941, 494 internees from Iran disembarked at the Outer Harbour at Port Adelaide:

“...S.S. Rangitiki arrived at Adelaide on Wednesday the 19th November, l941, at 1600 hours. The number of internees on board totalled 506 comprising 6 males, 6 females and 4 children in the family group from Iran, 12 German escapees from the French Foreign Legion from Singapore and 478 male Germans from Iran.

Owing to the late arrival of the ship the preparation of basic documents for those destined for 3 M.D. was very hurried, but successfully accomplished to allow the train to depart on time at 1833 hours. [Those for Tatura]

Immediately on the departure of this train arrangements were made to disembark the remaining internees for Loveday. These men were disembarked in batches of 55, being the number allotted to each carriage, and in spite of acute congestion at the gangway at times, due to the anxiety of the ship’s crew to go ashore, the entrainment of these internees was completed to allow the train to depart at 1907 hours according to schedule...

 

Today, based on these military archival materials, I can confirm that the majority of the 494 detainees of the British Empire were detained in the cities of Ahwaz, Bandar Shapour, Behshahr, Birjand, Boroujerd, Isfahan, Karind, Kerman, Kermanshah, Shiraz, Tehran, Tabriz, and Yazd between 15th August and 18th September 1941.

 

Most of them were from German families and were born in Germany; but some of them were citizens of other European countries who were working for German governmental institutions and companies in Iran when they were captured. For the British and Russian forces it was not important who was who and where they came from; if someone was working for a German company or their related allies, then they were considered a spy and should be detained.

Archival material reveals that among those 494 internees from Iran, there were 471 Germans, 18 Hungarians, two Czechs, and one each Pole, Dutch, and Belgian. However, further detailed archival studies may reveal new information.

Archival materials also confirm that there were six family groups (Dücker, Fuchs, Girschik, Leschan, Zoubeck, Zwieger) including six males, six females and four children among those 494 internees. These family groups on their arrival were sent to Camp No.3 of Tatura War Camps, situated in Victoria, and the rest of the 478 male internees were sent to Camp No.10, Loveday War Camps, near Barmera in South Australia.

The second group of eighteen detained civilians from Iran who were separated from the main group in the Basra temporary detention camp arrived on the “Queen Elizabeth” in Sydney on 15 December 1941, and transferred to the Loveday War Camps.

In 1942, forty-nine German Merchant Seamen detainees from Iran who disembarked with the rest of 494 internees at Adelaide (included in this number) were transferred from Camp No.10 of Loveday War Camps to the Murchison Prisoner of War Camp situated in Victoria, and one of them moved to the Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp situated in Western Australia. These transfers were performed because their status was reclassified from Civilian Internees to Prisoners of War (P.O.W.) and German Merchant Navy (PWGM).

By the end of 1942, there were a total number of 512 internees from Iran detained in Loveday Camp No.10, Marrinup Camp No.16, Murchison Camp No.13, and Tatura Camp No.3.

Further, by comparing the first lists of detainees in Iran with the list of those who arrived in Australia, I found out that five of them (Georg Becklau, Eduard Hiecke, Herbert Heackelberg, Johann Johansen, and Reinhard Kuhlenkampff) did not reach the Australian war camps and their fate changed while they were detained in the British temporary detention camp in Basra. Also, there are several missing detainees whose names were on the list of those who left Basra for India on the Rohna, but their names were not on the list of those who reached Australia on the “Rangitiki”. They are missing and I have no further information about this group of internees.

My archival research also reveals that since the date of their detention on Iranian soil, the youngest internee to reach Australian soil (Inga Zwieger R36365) was two years old and the oldest one (Hermann Koffmahne R36596) was 65.

 

The internees from Iran belonged to different religious groups including Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, Jewish, and Muslim.  

  

Apart from those six interned German families, 270 of the detained men were married, 160 of them were single, eight were divorced, and seven were widowers.

Between their first captivity in Iran and until the end of their detention period in the Australian war camps, eleven of the male internees passed away. The first one (Leopold Kurtz) died in the British temporary interrogation camp in Basra before their embarkation for Australia. Nine of them (Emil Gloye R36485, Hermann Koffmahne R36596, Friedrich Neumann R36664, Karl Nolte R36669, Wilhelm Karl August Schmidt R36753, Hubert Schmohl R36755, Ludwig Schnetzl R36760, Johann Tengler R36793, Wilhelm Wiecorek R36828) lost their lives during their detention period inside the Australian camps, and one of them (Paul Werner R36826) died during his repatriation to Germany while he was on board the “General Stuart Heintzelman”. 

During their detention in Tatura camp, two babies were born, Herbert Friedrich Girschik (R36355a) and Anton Alfred Zwieger (R36364a).

As far as I could investigate among these military documents, after the end of the war 266 of the German internees from Iran, including families and their children, were granted leave to stay in Australia, 122 of them were deported or repatriated to European countries, and only six of them (Victor Bienemann R36402, Kurt Hase R36504, Alfred Von Kamen -Senior- R36562, Alfred Von Kamen -Junior- R36561, Franz Schell R36738, Andreas Vogel R36809) decided to return to Iran, probably to continue their professional activities. 

Down Arrow

© 2020-2023 Designed by P. KHOSRONEJAD

                     Dr. Pedram Khosronejad | Adjunct Professor

     Religion and Society Research Cluster | Western Sydney University

Fellow | Department of Anthropology | Harvard University

                      P.Khosronejad(at)westernsydney(.)edu(.)au