Ms Gower also spoke at the forum and discussed the history and significant role the Loveday Internment Camp played in supplying fresh produce and morphine from the opium poppies to Australian troops during World War II.
The symposium’s Keynote Speaker Professor Peter Monteath from Flinders University described the LIC as being “the most multicultural place in the world during the 1940s”.
The camp at its peak housed 5,380 German, Italian and Japanese civilian prisoners.
Prof Monteath described the remains of the internment camp as “an incredible piece of heritage”.
Berri Barmera Council owns the General Headquarters site and parts of the Camp 10 site and is investigating ways to make the area more accessible to tourists.
The speakers who shared their knowledge about WWII Internees from Persia and their Fate in Australia at a symposium at Barmera on March 4, 2023
Riverland historian Rosemary Gower, (left) Flinders University professor Peter Monteath, Helga Griffin, 87, of Canberra, a former internee from Tatura in Victoria, John Wulff of Sydney, the son of an internee who lived at Camp 10, Doris Frank and Ingrid Stephen both of Melbourne whose fathers were internees at Loveday and Western Sydney University’s Adjunct Professor and Curator of Persian Arts Dr Pedram Khosronejad.
Source: Berri Barmera Library
The symposium in March attracted 70 participants from across the Riverland, Adelaide, and interstate.
Source: Berri Barmera Library
Prof. Monteath told the symposium Australia during WWII interned more than 4000 internees of German descent.
He said 1000 of these civilian prisoners from Germany had already settled in Australia and more than 3000 were from overseas.
Prof. Monteath said in 1941 about 500 of these Germans from Iran (formerly Persia) were sent by Britain on a New Zealand troop ship called the Rangitiki to Australia.
According to the convenor of symposium and curator of exhibition, Professor Pedram Khosronejad, the civilian Germans of Persia who were detained on Iranian soil and sent to the Australian internment prison camps included six women and four children.
They were among a group of 1500 that sought refuge at the German embassy in Tehran, when the British and Russians invaded Iran.
Based on the project’s website of their project, the British firstly transported this group of Germans from Iran to Basra in Iraq before sending them on the ship Rohna to Bombay in India.
The Germans of Persia were then sent on the Rangitiki to the South Australian capital Adelaide.
“The single internees were taken to the Loveday Internment Camps and six families (sixteen persons including four children) were taken to the Tatura Internment Camp,” Professor Khosronejad said.
Prof. Monteath told the symposium most of the German Persian internees remained in Australia after WWII.
He said the Australian government recognised the contribution the German Persian internees could make to the nation after the war and allowed them to stay.
“They were an extremely diverse group and despite the challenges of not being able to return home, they made a new home in Australia,” Prof Monteath said.