Holsworthy Internment Camp

Holsworthy Internment Camp was the largest camp for prisoners of war in Australia during World War I. It was located at Holsworthy, near Liverpool on the outskirts of Sydney. There are varying estimates of the number of internees between 4,000 and 7,000.


The Australian Defence Force acquired 80,000 acres (approximately 32,375 hectares) of land at Holsworthy before the beginning of World War I. Following the declaration of war, all German subjects in Australia were declared ‘enemy aliens’ and were required to report and notify the Government of their address.[1] In February 1915 enemy aliens were interned either voluntarily or on an enforced basis.[1] In New South Wales the principal place of internment was the Holsworthy Internment Camp where between 4,000 and 7,000 men were detained.[1]

Most of the internees were from the Austro-Hungarian empire including Germans, Slavic men mostly from Dalmatia, as well as Czechoslovakians and Hungarians,[2] staff of German companies who were living in Australia, crews of ships caught in Australian ports as well as naturalised and native born Australians of German descent.[1] These prisoners were interned without trial.[1] After the war many of these internees were deported to Germany.[1]


In early 1915 there were riots over rations and work duties.[1] In 1916 there were riots when a crime gang calling itself the Black Hand assaulted and extorted money and goods from fellow internees.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Holsworthy Internment Camp". NSW Migration Heritage Centre. Retrieved 12 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Holsworthy Internment Camp during World War I". Dictionary of Sydney. Retrieved 12 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Fischer, Gerhard (1984), "Botany Bay revisited: the transportation of prisoners-of-war and civilian internees to Australia during the First World War", Journal of the Australian War Memorial (5): 36–43, ISSN 0729-6274
  • Godden Mackay; Peddle Thorpe (1995), First field hospital site Holsworthy, Godden Mackay, retrieved 12 January 2019 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Helmi, Nadine; Fischer, Gerard; Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales (2011), The enemy at home : German internees in World War I Australia, UNSW Press, ISBN 978-1-74223-264-5
  • Moses, John (2005), "Reflections on the internment of persons of German origin in Australia during two world wars: context and arguments", Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 91 (2): 93–106, ISSN 0035-8762
  • Splivalo, Anthony (1982), The home fires, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, ISBN 978-0-909144-70-8
  • "LIVERPOOL CAMP". The Mirror of Australia (21). New South Wales, Australia. 11 December 1915. p. 5. Retrieved 12 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)