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  • Gato 14 Dec 2008 at 20:11
    A stinging rebuttal of Hermann Detzner's claims appeared as a letter to the editor of The Argus on Saturday 15 November 1919 under the heading, 'Who is Detzner?'. Unsigned, the letter appears to be written by a senior Australian official with firsthand knowledge and experience of Detzner in New Guinea.

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ADELAIDE. Thursday.—The Minister   for Home and Territories, (Mr Glynn) when shown the above cable message to-day, re- marked that the best comment upon the statement of Captain Detzner was the re- port laid upon the table of the Federal Par-       liament three weeks ago by Judge Murray,   Lieutenant-Governor of Papua, on the com-   parative position of German New Guinea     and Papua. He (the Minister) had also gone into the comparative position of the two territories in February last with Judge   Murray in order to prepare a rough outline of the system of Government for the man- datory territories. A commission which had been appointed to go into the matter had returned to Melbourne last week. He could say that there was no country in the world where the natives were better treated

than in Papua. The principle laid down

was that the natives interests must be con- sidered. There was no compulsion in Papua.   He had sanctioned ordinances recently for

taxing the natives, and the whole of the proceeds would bo applied to the education of the natives on certain lines, and to the fostering of the copra industry in planta- tions near the villages. The wages were   double those paid in New Guinea. In Papua labour was voluntary; in New Guinea it was   forced. In Papua the area under planta- tion was far greater than in any other part of the islands. However, a perusal of Judge     Murray's report would help the people to   realise the true position.


The Captain Detzner mentioned in the cable message is probably identical with a German officer whose career during the war furnishes an interesting story. When the Australian troops captured German New Guinea he was district officer at Morobe and disappeared in a mysterious way. It was generally surmised that he had escaped

in a canoe and made his way to Dutch territory. But a few days after the armis- tice he walked into the Australian head- quarters at Morobe immaculately dressed in full military uniform and surrendered himself to Captain Waugh, of the Aus- tralian forces in occupation. His story was that after vainly attempting to escape he had hidden in the jungle for four years living among the natives and having many exciting brushes with hostile tribes. It was the general opinion at the time that he had been sheltered by German planters and missionaries, but even so his eluding of capture was a remarkable feat. He was immediately sent under escort to Rabaul

and thence to Sydney. The statements made by him since his return to Berlin are manifestly absurd. A comparatively small   force of native troops has been maintained   by the Australians. The majority of them were in the force under German regime,   nnd were simply transferred to Australian officers and the keenness of the native to enjoy the prestige consequent upon wearing the uniform of a "police boy" makes re- cruiting a very easy matter. The native constabulary is well clothed and fed and is a highly efficient force, in which pressed levies would be useless. There are only two or three English planters in German New Guinea and it is highly improbable that they would have taken the risk of   writing to an enemy subject, far less use the ridiculous expressions attributed to them. Nothing is known of a native   memorial to Germans but as the German missions make frequent collections among the boys for religious objects, possibly some project of the kind has been set on   foot. Under Australian administration many grave excesses among German re- cruiters have been suppressed, and as re- cently as last year expeditions were sent out in the Morobe district to ensure that no illegalities occurred.