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‘To Be Truly British We Must Be Anti-German’

New Zealand, Enemy Aliens and the Great War Experience, 1914-1919


Andrew Francis

This book is a study of the treatment of New Zealand’s German-speaking settlers during the course of the Great War. As with Britain’s other dominions, New Zealand’s German and Austro-Hungarian residents were subject to a raft of legislation which placed restrictions on their employment and activities, while those considered a danger to domestic security found themselves interned for the duration of the conflict. This book examines public, press and political responses to their presence, and describes how patriotic associations, trade organizations, xenophobic politicians and journalists undertook a vigorous anti-alien campaign resulting, in a number of instances, in anti-German riots.
Central to this book is an examination of the extent to which proimperial sentiment, concepts of citizenship and national identity, increasing European settlement and a progressively volatile European scene set the tone for the manner with which the dominion’s British settlers treated its enemy alien counterparts. Themes discussed include the public’s reaction to war; the government’s internment policy; the establishment of anti-German trade organizations; and the challenges facing Prime Minister William Massey, whose wish to remain fair and just towards enemy aliens often brought him into direct conflict with the more hostile anti-German elements within New Zealand society.


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Chapter Six‘Practical Patriotism’: Wartime Economy andthe German Trade Boycott 181


Chapter Six ‘Practical Patriotism’: Wartime Economy and the German Trade Boycott The outbreak of war in August 1914 presented those Britons with commer- cial interests in New Zealand with a golden opportunity to further promote their businesses at the expense of German commerce and traders. Advertis- ing one’s company as a supplier of quality, British-made goods became a regular feature during the conf lict.1 If one’s product in some way contrib- uted to the Empire’s war ef fort, either through supplying the men on the battle front, or inspiring those at home to enlist, all the better. To be seen as pro-war during a patriotic, popular conf lict could do little harm to one’s business interests.2 Intrinsically linked to this was the growing number of attacks on German-owned or German-associated commercial interests that, on the outbreak of war, were denounced for contributing to the German war machine. Campaigns were launched, in the main by patriotic societies in which the participation of women was crucial, to eradicate all German businesses from the New Zealand economic landscape.3 Debate circulated that German trade could not only be halted for the duration of the war, but also for many years afterwards. This was in response to a wartime belief that German trade had been allowed too much inf luence in New Zealand 1 ‘British-made’ goods implies those made within the Empire, not just goods from Britain. 2 Stewart Dawson jewellers advertised its ‘soldier’s watch’, with the added informa- tion: ‘in the trenches, on the...

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