The closure of the German Club in Brisbane after the outbreak of WW1
By JOL Admin | 17 May 2015
The German Club has a long standing reputation as the longest running ethnic club in Queensland. These days, everyone is welcome. However, when the Deutsche Turn Verein (as it was then known) opened in Woolloongabba in 1890, although non-German born Australians were admitted, they had a very restricted membership.
During WW1, when anti-German sentiment in Queensland was strong, the club was considered by the media and Police (both State and Commonwealth) as being loyal to Germany and was highly suspected of sedition.
The Commonwealth Police (now A.F.P.) closed the German Club due to these suspicions.
The Defence authorities announced in the Brisbane Courier on 17 May 1915 that by mutual arrangement between the Defence Department and the committee of the Deutseher Turn Verein, arrangements had been made to close the premises without delay.
The paper reported the German Club committee had already decided on the step, and the Defence authorities wanted it to be clear to the public that the committee of the club at all times strictly conformed to the wishes of the military authorities since the outbreak of hostilities.
The closing of the German Club reflected the anti-German sentiment that was prevalent during this time. Names of towns were changed to either English or Aboriginal names and German families anglicised their surnames in attempts to quell the animosity.
The Brisbane Courier had reported 7 months earlier on 17 November 1914 of the Council meeting to discuss the closure of the Club, a councillor stating, "...we are going to have as fine a riot in Woolloongabba as possible, and that is in regard to the Turn Verein - the German Club - unless something is done.” Despite their troubles, the Club displayed solidarity by offering their premises as a convalescent hospital for returned soldiers in light of their closure; and reopened in 1921.
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