Edited By Andrew Bonnell and Rebecca Vonhoff
J.C. Godeffroy and German Migration to Queensland. Barbara Poniewierski
J.C. Godeffroy and German Migration to Queensland* Barbara Poniewierski In investigating the history of nineteenth-century German migration to Australia, and more particularly Queensland, the voyage out is an important starting point. An understanding of the part played by the Godeffroy shipping company of Hamburg, which played a central role in German migration to Australia for much of this period, is essential for a fuller appreciation of German migrants’ experience, and requires careful source analysis beyond the conventional as- sumptions or generalizations sometimes encountered in the literature. A long sailing ship voyage to Australia as a steerage passenger in the mid- nineteenth century was not a pleasure cruise. At best the immigrants were crowded together in insanitary conditions. Water was always scarce and some- times contaminated, while food was monotonous and not plentiful. Particularly for German migrants, it could at worst be a struggle to survive, for they could be at the mercy of unscrupulous emigration agents and ship’s chandlers, ill- tempered captains and incompetent doctors. Some ships had high death tolls from cholera, typhoid, typhus and scarlet fever, while many migrants contracted scurvy or venereal diseases, and they landed in Australia in a pitiable condition. First, mention must be made of the definitive Godeffroy book by Gabriele Hofmann, Das Haus an der Elbchaussee.1 Based heavily on Godeffroy business and family archives, it is obligatory reading for historians dealing with any as- pect of the Godeffroy story, but it is largely an evocative account of the family’s life in Germany. Hofmann...
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