German schools in South Australia

During World War I, Australia experienced strong anti-German sentiment. South Australia had a substantial diaspora of German-speaking people derived from migrants from Germany and Poland during the 19th century. One of the consequences of the sentiment was that many German-sounding placenames were changed. Another consequence was that many Lutheran church schools which taught the children in German were encouraged and eventually forced to close or be taken over by the state.

The Colony of South Australia had been established in 1836. The first groups of German emigrants arrived in 1838, encouraged by the founders of the colony. They were escaping religious persecution in Prussia, and settling to establish a new life where they were free to practice their religion. The situation in Germany changed after 1840 but hard-working German settlers continued to be encouraged to migrate. The first German-language newspaper in South Australia was published from 1847. Many of these settlers took the Oath of Allegiance and became naturalised citizens so that they could buy land.[1] German immigrant farmers and their descendants spread across the expanding colony, and others took up influential positions in Adelaide as well.

In June 1917, 49 schools received notices that they would be taken over by the Minister of Education with effect from 1 July that year. The German teachers were to be replaced by English teachers, if the school could not be closed completely and have the children sent to a nearby school.[2] The action to close the schools was a consequence of the new Education Act 1915 passed by the South Australian Parliament late in 1915. Section 53 of the act required that at least 4 hours of teaching each school day be in English, and required head teachers to submit a monthly statutory declaration that this had been the case over the preceding month. The legislation specifically identified German as not being English.[3]

Schools closedEdit

Some schools had voluntarily closed after the legislation was passed. The 49 schools that received notices to close from 1 July 1917 were at:[2]

school number of students
Martin Luther, Flinders Street, Adelaide 47
Australia Plains 38
Appila-Yarrowie 83
Bethany 60
Bethel 17
Blumberg 57
Bower 43
Crystal Brook West 10
Carlsruhe, Waterloo 44
Dalkey 22
St. John's, Dutton 34
Eden Valley 38
Emmaus 26
Emu Downs 20
St. John's, Eudunda 63
Ebenezer, Stockwell 85
Geranium Plains 19
Hahndorf 48
Trinity, Kapunda 37
St. Paul's, Kilkerran 30
St. John's, Kilkerran 20
Light's Pass 55
Lobethal 64
Lyndoch 25
Malvern, Cheltenham St 55
Mannum 26
Moculta 94
Monarto 9
Mount Torrens, Springhead 28
Murray Bridge 25
Nain 44
St. John's, Neale's Flat 13
St. Paul's, Neale's Flat 15
Neukirch 19
New Residence 30
North Rhine 34
Nott's Well 8
Palmer 18
Peter's Hill 27.
Point Pass 28
Rhine Villa 16
Rosenthal 27
St. Martini, Springton 35
Sedan 40
Tanunda 63
Lower Light 87
Robertstown 14
St Kitts, near Truro 19
Steinfeld, Hundred of Anna (not stated).

In addition, the Koonibba Aborigines mission station, west of Ceduna, was not affected at that time.[2]


  1. ^ "German Settlers in South Australia". Flinders Ranges Research. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "CLOSING GERMAN SCHOOLS". The Express and Telegraph. LIV (16, 152). South Australia. 12 June 1917. p. 3 (SPECIAL WAR EDITION). Retrieved 28 November 2016 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Education Act 1915 No. 1223". Parliament of South Australia. Retrieved 28 November 2016 – via Flinders University. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)