25 Aug.–Sept. 1941
After June 1941, when Hitler had announced the details of Operation BARBAROSSA accompanied by his massive assaults on the Soviet Union, the German expatriates in Iran had acknowledged that things could not continue forever the way they had been and that their luxurious life would soon end.
"The German radio broadcast from Berlin reported that German troops had invaded Russia in the early hours of the morning, news which filled me with deep disquiet. Based on previous experience, I feared we would from now onwards be cut off from Europe, and even with Persia closing her borders to the north, there wouldn’t be much she could do to defend herself. I would carry on the business, but I was convinced that this would not continue much longer if usual transport routes had been cut off. It was only to be hoped that a quick victory in the foreseeable future would enable the route through the Caucasus to be re-opened."
On 25 August 1941, the British Army launched Operation Countenance. 19,000 British and Indian troops advanced across the Iraqi border into Iran, while 40,000 Soviet soldiers, under the rather ironic codename Operation Compassion, invaded Iran from the North. Neither invading force met with much resistance from the Iranian side.
"My father tells the story of Hans [H. E. Wulff], hearing about the invasion on the radio and, because they were living in Tabriz in northern Iran, immediately fearing that they were going to be captured by the Russians. So he gave Magdalena five minutes to gather their most precious possessions together before setting out to drive to Teheran. Magdalena had just enough time to pull the washing from the line, grab a few belongings and bundle the children into the car, putting eight-month-old Roswitha in the washing basket. My father remembers seeing Russian tanks heading towards an approaching intersection from the north, and that Hans was just able to slip past them at great speed."
And, by another chronicle of these circumstances:
"Britain and Russia attacked Iran and, after opposing for three days, Iran laid down its arms and asked for an end to hostilities. A stream of refugees [Iranians] left Teheran heading for Isfahan and Shiraz… Germans from Anarek and other towns in the provinces had also come to Isfahan and were camping in the German Club. Others who tried to flee across the Turkish border turned back and came to Isfahan… The German Embassy ordered us by telegram to go immediately to Teheran… I received this order with the greatest misgivings as prior to that we had all decided to flee to Shiraz… I did not comply with the Embassy’s order to go to Teheran and justified my action by reference to the refusal of the police to hand out our “djavass” [resident permits].”
Anglo-Soviet Ivasion of Iran (Aug.– Sept. 1941)
June 22nd 1941, from the personal diary of Johann Friedrich Bambach (1883-1962), detained on August 16th 1941 in Isfahan, Iran. (R36428)
van Der Haagen-Wulff, Monica C. (2018). “Gorgobad: reflections on a German-Australian family biography,” Postcolonial Studies 21:1, pp. 49-64.
August 25th 1941, from the personal diary of Johann Friedrich Bambach (1883-1962), detained on August 16th 1941 in Isfahan, Iran. (R36428)