"WHO IS DETZNER?"
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS.
Sir,—There was no mystery about the disappearance of Captain Detzner and his party. On January 11, 1915, the Victorians captured Morobe, in German New Guinea. the last outpost. We saw Detzner go, knew where he went, and had him under super- vision for a year, and, though he tried to gain his freedom by getting into Dutch territory across country, we frustrated every attempt he made, and made him live nigger in the bush. On two occa- sions, though he dodged us in the jungle country, we could have shot him. To-day's report leaves the impression that Detzner was too smart for his captors. Facts as above speak otherwise.
At the outbreak of war Detzner was a civilian surveyor making a survey of the British-German boundary of New Guinea. He cleared out of Morobe in the Government whaleboat and hid on a plan- tation on Huon Gulf, but was soon driven out with his party. The Victorians cap- tured all his party one by one in the most difficult country in the world for fighting. His party consisted of five whites and about 40 well-trained armed native police, which
in jungle country is quite a formidable force.
He lived for four years on rations supplied
to the mission station by public subscrip- tion among the Germans of the South Aus- tralian Lutheran Mission, which is situated at Finschhafen and Madang. This mission supplied these necessities after each and every one had signed the oath of neutrality. the son of the founder was subsequently in-
terned. Detzner endeavoured to escape across country to Dutch New Guinea for a year, but found his movements were so well known to the district officer at Morobe, and such a close watch was kept on his movements that he was never able to get there by land or sea.
Little notice need be taken of Detzner's statements. There is not a shadow of truth in them. The natives would murder every German who came back to their country. From the day of British occupation the native has appreciated the firm but careful treatment he has received as against the brutal torture he got from the Hun, gene- rally served out at the muzzle of the rifle. Natives are not shot in dozens nowadays for refusing to carry loads on trek, poor bush kanakas who know nothing better. To-day they are paid for their work, and work willingly.
Detzner's statement that "even English planters had addressed a letter advocating that the country should not be handed over to Australia" is quite in keeping with his dozens of other lying statements in all cases endeavouring to belittle Englishmen or British officers, in every case pure fabrica- tions and typical scurrilous Hun lies. His
record is well known at the Defence depart- ment. His other statement of a war me- morial probably has a foundation of truth, as a huge number of natives are still under the influence of the Madang and Finsch- hafen Lutheran missions, where the native gets one hour's religion for 12 hours' work a day in the plantations, and only then if he is a good boy, and providing that in his spare time he grows sufficient sweet pota- toes for his Hun masters who pay him equal to 3d. per cwt., which the native must put back in the plate on Sundays.
Even a German war memorial may be
hatched in such surroundings.—Yours, &c., Nov. 14. MOROBE, 1914-1915