The Home Front Volume II
CHAPTER 18 — Aliens
new Zealand in 1939 was not used to aliens. In a total population of 1 640 000 some 8000 were of alien origin, most having come in gradually over many years. About half were Chinese, most of whom worked in market gardens and fruit shops, though in the cities a few were dealers in Eastern goods. There were Dalmatians farming in the Auckland province, a few making wine; about 800 Italians, mainly in the fish trade, lived in several pocket settlements. There were Yugoslavs, Scandinavians, Greeks, Germans, Hungarians, Poles and others scattered here and there, many of them naturalised. In Nelson a German settlement of the 1840s had largely been assimilated. After the 1914–18 war several hundred German ex-internees were deported and not till 1928 were nationals of former enemy states permitted to enter New Zealand. The German-born population fell from 5007 in 1886 to 1299 in 1936 and fewer than 300 of the Germans registered as aliens in 1946 were non-refugees.1 The number of German and Austrian immigrants rose steeply from a yearly average of 37 during 1933–8 to 251 in 1938–9 and 423 in the year ended 31 March 1940. The latecomers had left Germany before the war started, along with 52 who arrived during 1940–1. Arrivals from Czechoslovakia also increased, from 3 in 1938–9 to 102 in 1938–40, with 30 following in the next year.2
In the later 1930s, when refugees from Hitler's Europe were searching the world for new homes, New Zealand admitted them very cautiously. Only one refugee entered per 1500 New Zealanders, compared with one per 480 of population in the United Kingdom and one per 625 in the United States.3 Churches in New Zealand set up committees to assist the entrance of suitable refugees, and urged the government towards liberality, while recognising that it could not move ahead of public opinion. The public feared that refugees, through language, health and other difficulties, would prove incompetent to earn their livings. With unemployment still very page 852 much in the national mind, the government requirement that each refugee have a guarantor to promise that for five years he would not be a charge on the State was a powerful barrier; guarantors were not plentiful.4 The churches, perceiving that the ‘economic and social complications of an open door are almost incalculable’,5 were willing to quicken interest and sympathy for refugees but were dubious about actually taking responsibility for individual families.6
There was also apprehension lest refugees, mainly of Jewish origin, should prove economically successful, presumably at the expense of New Zealanders. The British Home Secretary's statement in mid- 1939 that 10 000 refugees had provided employment for 15 000 Englishmen,7 with its suggestion of the native-born taking orders from the foreigner, was double-edged advocacy. That the community might receive much of value to itself from intelligent and cultivated Europeans was an idea not widely accepted by the majority, who had never met such people but were familiar with anti-Jewish clichés. Some Jewish families already established were reluctant to sponsor boldly lest unacceptable newcomers should impair their own carefully attained image and positions.
In July 1939 the Wellington Chamber of Commerce urged that from self-interest as well as humanitarian reasons the government should admit chosen immigrants more liberally. New Zealand, for development and for defence, needed a larger population; its industries would benefit if suitable people were taken from the thousands of healthy and skilled Europeans living in British work camps and other training institutions on temporary permits; a co-ordinating committee should be established to plan their infiltration and settlement.8 A Wellington manufacturer said that from 1500–2000 female workers could be absorbed by the shoe-making trade at once if they were available; his firm alone could take 50. Highly industrialised countries like Czechoslovakia could supply trained operatives in various pursuits.9 Both the Press and the Otago Daily Times on 20 July favoured the Chamber of Commerce proposal and were critical of the government's silence and inactivity concerning the admission of refugees. It had, said the Press, ‘aroused a justifiable suspicion that the whole problem is being dealt with reluctantly, unsystematically and illiberally.’ The basis of government policy was the mistaken assumption that to admit refugees in large numbers page 853 would antagonise more electors than it would please and that safety lay in doing very little. ‘But public opinion is now well ahead of official opinion. The appeals for a more liberal policy have come from a wide variety of interests including chambers of commerce, trade unions, manufacturers' organisations and churches.’
At about the same time the Peace Pledge Union wrote to members of Parliament pointing to the terrible plight of refugees and saying that New Zealand industry would benefit from large numbers of hard-working, educated people bringing in new demands, capital and skills.10 The New Zealand Farmers' Union, however, rejected an Auckland proposal that the Union should press for suitable Europeans to fill vacancies in the primary and secondary industries. Recently, one Swiss immigrant had been followed by 19 others; they were good workers but if that went on the farming industry would be entirely in the hands of such people.11
With the outbreak of war some churches, notably the Methodist, still advocated the admission of approved refugees, particularly children, from the tens of thousands who had fled Hitler's Europe and were seeking permanent homes.12 More firmly, churches said that the errors of the last war should be avoided; there should be friendliness and goodwill to the aliens already here. All Christians should show gracious hospitality to those who had suffered so much, and should persistently discourage the ignorant, often cowardly rumours so common in war time; New Zealand was fighting against racial and national intolerance, and it would be tragic to allow defeat within the country.13
In the first months of the war there was scattered hostility towards aliens, of the ‘once a German always a German’ sort, from some. Others, anxious that the excesses of the last war should not recur, pointed out that many aliens had been in New Zealand for a long time, while recent refugees had suffered and fled from Hitler. For instance: in October 1939 a local RSA executive member urged that, contrary to current Dunedin belief, there was no difference between Germans and Nazis and that all enemy aliens should be behind bars for the duration. His executive, however, thought this too sweeping and would do no more than refer the internment of aliens to the Dominion Council for urgent discussion, remarking that it was not necessarily desirable to intern those of German origin known over page 854 many years as good citizens.14 The ‘behind bars’ viewpoint was eloquently rebutted by several correspondents stressing the difference between Nazism and its victims, invoking Chamberlain's distinction between Nazis and Germans, and recalling the benefits conferred on British industry by 17th century Huguenot refugees, and others who had sought asylum from political and religious persecution.15 An article, ‘The War and the Refugee, a plea for sanity’,16 also quoted Chamberlain's ‘we have no quarrel with the German people’,17 and stressed the importance of keeping the spirit of tolerance alive against the inroads of irrational anti-Hun utterances. One should make extra efforts to comfort German friends, who had already suffered so much and had to start life again in a strange community. One should fight any sign of intolerance appearing among one's acquaintances, keeping ruthlessness for the Nazi spirit and compassion for its victims everywhere.
There was no wave of patriotic fervour as in 1914, engulfing aliens in hostility, but as volunteering ran slackly after the first month or two there were murmurs that one of the reasons was reluctance to defend the country on seven shillings a day while aliens, safe in soft jobs, received 15 or 20 shillings.18 This job-jealousy was to persist and grow stronger throughout the war. Some of its earliest rancour focused on ex-European doctors.
New Zealand at the end of the Thirties did not offer much scope for European architects or musicians, however skilled; legal training, meshed in codes, cases and common law, was not transferable but, given language competence, medicine and dentistry could be applied across the frontier. There was not much outcry against the handful of German–Jewish dentists who began to appear in the cities. Perhaps New Zealand teeth proffered enough work for all comers and dentists attracted less public attention than doctors, who loomed high in the social landscape. From 1940, numbers of New Zealand's younger, brisker medical men were going overseas or attending encamped forces in New Zealand. Should European doctors, with their well-known charm and ingratiating ways, be allowed to entrench page 855 themselves in these empty areas? Various voices declared that they should not. One of the earliest was Truth,19 which spoke of interlopers who had changed their nationality overnight, stealing soldier doctors' practices, helped thereto by secret Jewish societies, extravagant claims and credulous people. A refugee committee spokesman replied that 11 Jewish doctors were then in practice. Fewer than 20 were training in Dunedin and there were 1400 doctors on the medical register.20
More quietly, a proposal to place five refugee psychiatrists from Austria in New Zealand mental hospitals was vetoed by the government. The Prime Minister answered enquiries by saying that as the medical staffs of these institutions were at full strength there were no billets for these applicants, who did not have the qualifications or experience of the present staffs.21 A handful of correspondents still hankered for Vienna-trained psychiatrists.22
As local doctors disappeared into the forces, it might have been thought that doctors from Europe would have been accepted after several year's further training at Otago's Medical School to ensure that they came up to New Zealand standards and were familiar with New Zealand conditions. When actually in practice they were usually popular, but there were exaggerated statements on how many there were and vocal suspicion that by being present in a time of need and by their Continental manners, they would take over permanently the work of doctors serving overseas. Their number was in fact modest. In about 1934 the Medical Council of New Zealand, which controlled admissions to the medical register, had been asked by the British government to consider favourably applications from Jewish medical men seeking to practise in New Zealand. By February 1940, of 67 applicants, the Customs Department had agreed to admit 50, and 39 had arrived. Of these, eight already had qualifications acceptable in New Zealand, 17 had entered Medical School, nine were waiting a chance to enter, while five had taken other jobs.23 At Medical School the first comers were required to do one year's study and examinations, and five qualified thus. In 1938 the course was extended to three years, and 20 embarked thereon. By February 1942, of the 50 medical refugees granted entry by the Customs Department, 43 had entered the country and the balance of the page 856 permits had lapsed; between 1935 and 1941, 15 qualified at Otago and 11 more were due to qualify at the end of 1942.24
The Medical Council, concerned to protect New Zealand medical men from foreign infiltration, decided in 1939 that during the war no more refugee applicants would be admitted to take the three year course.25 Within Otago University and the Senate of the University of New Zealand it was held that this was too sweeping a restriction; the University's proper concern was with the qualification and teaching of students, not with accepting or refusing aliens as such. Though New Zealanders should be accepted first, refugee applicants of suitable character and ability should be taken in if there were room; the public was entitled to the best medical attention possible, whatever its origin.26 Eight more refugee students were admitted to the three year course in 194027 and a few others later gained entrance through application to the University of New Zealand.28
The RSA and others opposed to alien doctors were chiefly concerned lest they take over the practices of doctors with the forces. There was less opposition to their working in hospitals or remote places29 and several went to districts that had never before had doctors.30 Early in 1942, in many areas overworked doctors were increasingly hard to reach.31 The Observer on 10 February 1943 remarked that there was no excuse for people who complained when they could not get a doctor but banged the door in the faces of those trying to remedy the deficiency.32
In organising general alien surveillance, the police started almost from scratch in 1939. Previously, immigration had been handled by the Customs Department and foreigners, once admitted, were not subject to further registration or checking. Hence no complete list of aliens existed. In May 1938, the Aliens Committee of the Organisation for National Security, drawn from the Army, Police, Internal Affairs, Customs and Statistics departments, had decided that Customs and Statistics would henceforth inform the police of aliens' arrivals and departures; the list could not be made retrospective.33page 857
During the Thirties, several German clubs which included New Zealanders as members were formed as cultural and language societies. After 1934, when the police began to look into these clubs, they found that the most vigorous of them, the Deutscher Verein at Auckland, increasingly acquired, under Nazi-minded consuls, an aggressively nationalistic tone, while its membership diminished.34 As war approached, aliens' activities were more closely watched, and from September 1939 their mail was closely censored.35
Meanwhile the Aliens Committee, considering what should be done in the event of war, determined that naturalisation would be suspended for the duration, and produced the Aliens Control Emergency Regulations (1939/132) of 4 September. These required every person of 16 years or more who had ever been a subject of an enemy state, even if naturalised, to register with the police, thereby acquiring a certificate to be produced on demand. Aliens were to notify the police of changes of address, or of name, and could not without police permits work on a ship or wharf. If a police officer or member of the armed forces believed an alien to be disaffected or thought that his conduct, past or probable, was a public danger, he could take such an alien into custody pending the decision of the Attorney- General, who, if convinced that these suspicions were solidly grounded, could order internment. The Attorney-General could also exempt approved aliens, wholly or in part, from the regulations. An amendment at the end of October (1939/233) required aliens to obtain police permission if they wished to leave their registered homes for more than 24 hours.
The need to register was widely advertised, and the police list of aliens grew rapidly. There were no instant internments; official policy was to keep internments to the minimum, and Somes Island in Wellington's harbour, which was again chosen for this purpose, had to be reconverted from an animal quarantine station. Just before Christmas seven men from Auckland and two from Wellington were taken to Somes Island.36 The number there grew slowly, and by June 1940 had risen to 16, plus 15 from Samoa. In that month Italy's entering the war increased internments by 30, mainly those who had been prominent in local Italian organisations which of recent years had taken on a Fascist flavour.37
Many well-known citizens, German-born but of undoubted loyalty, applied for and received the Attorney-General's exemption. The need became so clear that the regulations were amended on 22 page 858 November (1939/248). Unless the Minister of Justice decided otherwise, exemption from all controls was given, in effect, to those who had been naturalised British subjects for more than 25 years and to their children born in British territory. By the end of the year about 650 persons of German origin were thus exempted, exemptions that with very few exceptions stood throughout the war.38
News about aliens in Britain inevitably affected New Zealand actions and attitudes. In pre-war years the Nazi technique of organising Germans living in neighbouring countries to promote Nazi policies had been prominent. In Austria, Czechoslovakia and Danzig substantial minorities had become the cutting-edge of German expansion, building up pressure and incidents that led to military seizures. In mid-1940, from Norway, the Low Countries and France came reports that swarms of ‘tourists’ preceded the panzers. There were tales of treachery by agents entrenched in key positions, of signals and sabotage, of confusion and collapse accelerated by the ‘Fifth Column’.
Britain's normal German community of between 15 000 and 20 000 had been augmented before the war by refugees, mainly Jewish or leftist. By September 1939 there were more than 60 000 from Germany and Austria and some 8 000 Czech refugees. On the outbreak, about 2 000 suspects were interned, while 120 Aliens Tribunals investigated nearly 74 000 others. About 600 (Class A) were interned, the movements of about 6800 (Class B, absolute reliability uncertain) were restricted, and the majority (Class C) went free with certificates of reliability. In the crisis of 1940, all these categories were swept aside in a comprehensive round-up, beginning on 12 May, when about 2000 alien males living in coastal areas were arrested. A few days later all in Class B, including women and children, were rounded up with great haste and secrecy, while newspapers clamoured for total internment. With the entry of Italy, 4000 Italians who had lived for less than 20 years in Britain were interned immediately. By 20 June, the police had orders to bring in any Class C Germans or Austrians of whom they were doubtful and, after 25 June, all Class C men under 70 except invalids or key workers. The movements of these exempted persons were restricted and they were not allowed to possess cars, bicycles or maps. The haste and size of these internments inevitably meant harshness and unseemly conditions in camps, and there were many suicides. Several thousand aliens were shipped to Canada and Australia. Early in July page 859 1940 the Andora Star, taking some 1500 Germans and Italians to Canada, was sunk with heavy losses.
Reaction to such measures began; it was also realised that many useful and talented workers were idle on the Isle of Man, site of the main camp. Tribunals again began to investigate aliens, who were released progressively, so that by 1943 nine-tenths of those employable were at work, many in skilled jobs.39
In New Zealand, the disasters of 1940 and the British round-up of aliens caused some near-panic ripples of hostility towards aliens, heightened on 19 June by the sinking of the Niagara in Hauraki Gulf. But even before these events the RSA was moving against the enemy within the gates. Its executives, dignified by their own sacrifices and those of fallen comrades, regarded themselves and were widely regarded by others as authorities about defence and aliens generally. On 2 May 1940 the annual conference of the NZRSA held that during the war and for two years thereafter the entrance of foreigners should be prohibited and that those naturalised who showed disloyalty (a wide-ranging word) should have their naturalisation papers cancelled.40 On 11 June the Dominion executive urged the government to intern immediately all enemy aliens who had come from enemy territory within the last few years, adding; ‘we say all enemy aliens because it seems impossible to differentiate.’41
Between these dates other groups and individuals had shown hostility to aliens, demanding measures such as wholesale internment or drafting aliens to labour on the land. In many cases concern for security was backed by resentment of aliens protected by New Zealanders holding well paid jobs. The RSA was entwined with some of these groups, notably the National Service Movement in Auckland and the Taranaki movement,42 and it was influential in the Farmers' Union. The rash of meetings called by all these bodies demanded, besides conscription and a national government, strong action against Communists, disloyal elements and enemy aliens. As well, early shots in the main anti-alien barrage of 1940 came from the job-sensitive medical men.43 The Farmers' Union annual conference in the last week of May 1940 heard the general range of arguments: it would be terrible if the fighting men were stabbed in the back by a ‘fifth column’ as in Poland and Czechoslovakia; New page 860 Zealand should get in first by interning all enemy aliens, for if there were any exceptions save on the grounds of old age, those who should be in custody would slip through a gap in the regulations; there would be hardship for some but they should be prepared to face this for the good of the country; there should be a clean sweep of the German–Jewish doctors on to Somes Island. One speaker, however, insisted on the necessity for a court of appeal against internment.44
Adam Hamilton, then leader of the Opposition, declared that he would seek from the government full returns of the number of aliens who had come to New Zealand during the past few years, particularly during the last year; of the number employed in government departments, and of those competing in business or the professions with New Zealanders who were bearing the burden of war service.45 Truth was triumphant: ‘The whole country is now backing “Truth” in demanding a policy of internment, with no loopholes. A “Fifth Column” surprise must not happen here’.46
An article in the New Zealand Herald on 25 May, advocating vigilance and criticising government inactivity, drew together a good deal of current opinion. ‘Concern over the menace of a Fifth German Column in New Zealand is widely manifest. In some quarters it is extravagant. In others … it is called hysteria. In others again it is given second place among internal dangers to the subversive influences of Communism.’ The great majority of people desired no extreme steps, but the absence of reasonable government action was bound to manufacture extremists. To the ‘average patriot’, aware that the Fifth Column was part of the German war machine, it was absurd to imagine that Germany, when evicting Jews, would not send its active agents with them. It was the unavoidable misfortune of German–Jewish refugees to be suspect, especially as some had a good deal of ready money for business and property investment, plus ‘a commercial aggressiveness somewhat foreign to New Zealand custom’. There was reason for believing, said the article, that aliens with cash resources unexpectedly large for refugees had secured farm properties in certain localities. Any marked area preference should be investigated. ‘We have German refugees; we have people classed as refugees who may have loyalties of a very divided character; and no doubt we have some Germans who are units of the German armed forces’, waiting for orders. Public anxiety would not be quieted till surveillance was much closer than it was at present.47page 861
On 12 June 1940 an article in the Herald, repeated by the Otago Daily Times on 18 June, declared that public concern had not been assuaged by the Attorney-General's assurances on 28 May48 that adequate steps were being taken. ‘Everywhere people are talking of dangers of one kind or another to which the country may be exposed through the activities of the Fifth Column and of disloyal elements. Much of the talk is based on mere rumour; some if it is only the expression of vague anxiety. But part of it is based upon close observation and a clear appreciation of the risks.’ There followed a Gallipoli story of a cease-fire order given during close fighting by a German officer to Auckland soldiers who thus, 25 years earlier, had learned ‘something of what is now called Fifth Column methods.’49 More frivolously in mid-June a Dominion reporter remarked that considerable courage was needed to speak in any foreign language in Wellington: the loud conversation of two persons speaking German in a restaurant drew inquisitive and black looks from nearby people, evidently ‘prepared on the least provocation to regard them as fifth columnists.’50
In the correspondence columns of newspapers a sprinkling of letters advocated general internment, and some urged that reliable aliens would themselves prefer to be interned rather than leave a few dangerous ones at large.51 It is probable that telegrams calling for internment were sent to ministers. For instance on 19 June 1940, National party women of Canterbury, ‘very hot and angry’ while believing that the Niagara, sunk by a mine in Hauraki Gulf, had been sabotaged, telegraphed the Prime Minister that all enemy aliens should be immediately interned.52
As R. A. Lochore, a linguist employed in postal censorship and in the control of aliens, wrote: ‘It was in provincial towns, blest with a mere half-dozen refugees, that the fifth-column hunt went forward most merrily in 1940, until the quarry either made an ally of the local police sergeant, or buried themselves in the comparative anonymity of the cities.’53 Newspapers give instances of full-scale hostility in the small towns where there was no anonymity. Thus, the Hawke's Bay Hospital Board declared that it would not enter into any contracts with alien persons or firms during the war54 and that no alien of enemy origin would have access to its institutions except page 862 as a patient.55 In Invercargill a man objected to the liberty allowed aliens because he had to work alongside one who reported regularly to the police.56 Another wrote, ‘It is remarkable the number of people of German and Italian origin who are still walking around as free as ourselves. If the “fifth column” beat France, what will these people do here if they get a chance? … Whether they are innocent or not, the best place for them is a cell.’57 Another wrote: ‘I say they are not to be trusted, no matter how long they have been in New Zealand. I say round them up and make them work for their tucker.’58 An Italian restaurant keeper, naturalised, married to a New Zealander, and formerly popular, was driven from Dannevirke.59 Another Italian at Meanee near Napier was tarred and feathered.60 At Whangarei there were complaints of Dalmatians getting jobs and buying land when young Britishers had enlisted; something would have to be done to protect soldiers' interests against aliens.61
There were also less excited voices. While Moody in Auckland was uttering his warnings,62 in Wellington, the centre which had the largest number of enemy aliens, city councillors considered the possibilities of arson and of sabotage in public utilities. They spoke of various precautions, advising municipal departments to check over their employees, and advising shopkeepers such as fruiterers to remove readily inflammable boxes from their yards, but they did not propose wholesale dismissals or internments.63
Sometimes attacks brought forth champions.64 In Taranaki a contractor told men who objected to working with two others, of Italian descent, that the latter were loyal and he had known them for years, but if they felt so hostile there were plenty of rifles in Wellington and thousands of Italians elsewhere.65 Also in Taranaki, a young German-born farmhand got into arguments which led to an assault. In court, his lawyer said that his client was out of work for he was dismissed as soon as his nationality was discovered, and suggested that he should be interned to solve that difficulty. The magistrate said that it was unthinkable that in this country a man should be punished just for being a German, and gave probation.66 After new page 863 regulations on 18 June 1940 had decreed that enemy aliens should not possess or control motor vehicles, Horowhenua county councillors, in considering the issue of licences, decided to refer cases in doubt to the police, but hoped to avoid injustice to loyal settlers of enemy nationality. In this fight for very existence, said the chairman, ‘no risks must be taken, but I hope no injustice will be done to those who are just as loyal as any Britisher. The decision is not with the council to make, but where it is found necessary to refer cases to the police it is to be hoped that the persons involved will not take umbrage because of this action, realising the issues which are at stake.’67
Refugee emergency committees soothingly explained that refugee surveillance was not casual: each refugee had been thoroughly investigated before gaining entry and the police kept close watch on all aliens. Their movements and activities were known day by day, while all letters they received or posted were censored stringently. As an instance of their willingness to help, it was made known that at the outbreak of war all male refugees in Christchurch had written to the military authorities offering to serve in any capacity, and two of the younger men were already in the Third Echelon.68 The Presbyterian Church published widely, on 30 May 1940, its resolution that the government had the best information on refugees and should not be embarrassed by popular clamour for immediate wholesale internment of those who had everything to lose and nothing to gain by the victory of Hitlerism.
A few hardy liberals defended the pass between ‘refugees’ and ‘enemy aliens’. One, F. de la Mare, while sympathising with people who in difficult days spoke under the urge of patriotic emotion, noted that New Zealand's handful of refugees from barbarities suffered in Europe had recently become ‘enemy aliens’ who should not be given work but should be interned. This was not the policy of the government, which had decided to investigate every case, investigation that should prove no great task. Refugees presented the problem of absorption, which would not be helped by passion or very naïve patriotism. He thought that history would find the best test of New Zealanders' right to individual and national freedom in their attitudes to these unfortunate people.69
Some prominent Aucklanders, including several professors, countered anti-alien outcry by appealing for discrimination. They held that evidence and guarantees should be assessed in every case, and page 864 the doubtful ones be interned, instead of the community lashing blindly at all and sundry in an emotional crisis. No guarantee could be absolute, but there were also false Britons in Hitler's pay, and the line should be drawn on evidence, not on race. Energy should be directed towards increased output, the elimination of waste, efficient defence and training schemes, and universal service, which should include whole-time or part-time work for parasites, rather than towards working up resentment against aliens.70
Not all academics took this view. Auckland's Professor of Philosophy, W. Anderson,71 commented that ‘the academic front (or should one say, façade?)’ was exploiting the rhetorical possibilities of accusing its opponents of brain-storms and crowd hysteria. ‘The whole idea of internment is that it is a measure necessitated by the unprocurability of incriminating evidence. Before we could get the evidence, the damage would have been done.’72
A distinguished headmaster, L. J. Wild,73 spoke of the school's duty to uphold justice and charity, calmness and clear thinking, especially when ‘far too many people are working themselves into a state of nervous excitement, and in an excess of panic which is quite foreign to British character, impose upon themselves the gratuitous but no doubt exciting task of hunting for heretics and other suspects now more generally known as “Fifth Columnists”’.74
For R. H. Nimmo, prominent in Wellington's Chamber of Commerce, wholesale internment was incompatible with British justice, and he was sure that those pressing for it would not do so if they had seen for themselves in Europe, as he had, ‘the indescribable hardship and injustice meted out to Jewish people’, or seen the poor exiles, herded like cattle, crossing the Altantic with their worldly goods in bundles. Each enemy alien in New Zealand should have a thorough, impartial investigation and, if there were the slightest justification, be interned without hesitation, but he hoped that the government would not be stampeded into ruthless internment of people who had proved to be useful citizens and who were filled with horror at the very name of the enemy.75 The central council of page 865 the Chambers of Commerce asked the Minister of Justice if there were as many aliens as reports suggested and if police powers were adequate. It was contented with the Minister's assurance that as a result of government caution, which had been criticised as harshness, in admitting refugees during the past four or five years, their numbers were not large and police powers were sufficient. One member of the council said that he would hate to see anything like a pogrom in a British country, and there were others in the community, such as Communists, far more dangerous than enemy aliens.76
Fraser on 16 May 1940 had declared that the government had full information on all aliens and was keeping close watch; vigilance by the public was commendable, but alarmist reports would be harmful.77 Mason, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, repeated this more fully on 28 May: no Fifth Column brigade, battalion or company, would march in New Zealand. There were some disaffected persons, but they were either known or suspected and were being watched. Freedom always made possible the existence of ingrates, hospitality always risked the viper in the bosom. There would be more internments, but vigilance must be combined with justice. There were now hundreds in the country who had fled, as New Zealanders would have done, from the Nazi terror, which was quite as hateful to them as to us.78
While uttering these assurances, the government was moving towards closer surveillance. Police routine had meant checking on matters brought to their notice, not alien-by-alien investigation. So far, only those known to be active supporters of Nazi or Fascist doctrines had been interned. Internments had been ordered by the Minister, solely on evidence put forward by the police, and were in effect police committals. But the police, while trained to present a case for prosecution, had no experience of objective presentation. The Minister wanted an advisory body to test the credibility of both police and alien evidence, though the police were somewhat reluctant to divulge secret information to such a tribunal.79 Along with public clamour for closer control, the aliens themselves were asking for a tribunal to investigate and clear them from suspicion, as was done page 866 in England before the May crisis. A deputation from the Wellington Emergency Relief Committee stressed this to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice on 10 June.80
On 18 June regulations (1940/119) provided for any necessary number of tribunals of up to three members which would examine the bona fides of enemy aliens, advise whether or not they should be interned, review those already interned, and consider any matter referred to them by the Minister. The regulations also proscribed certain articles: without special police permission aliens might not possess charts or large-scale maps, cameras, motor vehicles, sea-going craft or aircraft, any military documents, explosives, or more than three gallons of inflammable liquids. The Minister could increase or modify restrictions on any alien or class of aliens as to residence, reporting to the police, registration, occupation, or possession of articles.
On 8 July 1940 a Tribunal was appointed: Mr Justice Callan, as chairman, C. H. Weston KC,81 and J. H. Collins,82 a trade union secretary. They were instructed to examine all enemy aliens, reckoned at 2341,83 and classify them in groups for varying degrees of restriction and liberty. Before the Tribunal began work, the regulations were again amended on 8 August (1940/183). Grounds for internment were simplified so that the Tribunal could recommend internment in any circumstances which it thought fit. Also, as it was then considered possible that non-enemy aliens could have hostile purposes these regulations brought all such persons84 within the range of restrictions. They could now be brought before the Tribunal, and if necessary restricted, deported or interned.
Soldiers building a haystack, Hamilton, 1944
Ration books being issued by the Post and Telegraph Department at Auckland, April 1942
Girl Guides in Auckland making camouflage nets
Aircraft construction at the de Havilland plant in Wellington, 1943
Red Cross supplies being loaded at Wellington Wharf
Gift food being loaded for despatch to Britain, January 1948
These proposals were embodied in new regulations of 24 October (1940/273), which revoked, consolidated and augmented previous regulations. In each police district, the police would investigate the affairs and conduct of every enemy alien, interviewing each one with a long list of set questions, checking on answers, following up leads and seeking information from other government departments and from anyone associated with the alien. This material was to be put before the local Aliens Authority, and the Authority, from this information, his own local knowledge and his assessment of aliens from interviews, would sort them into five classes (given below), recommending accordingly to the Minister. Where the Minister directed, non-enemy aliens would likewise be examined and classified. The Appeal Tribunal would hear appeals both from the aliens and the police against these recommendations, and would advise on any matter referred to it by the Minister. All enemy aliens were further restricted. They could not possess any apparatus capable of radio, telephonic or radio-telegraphic communication, or radio sets capable of receiving from beyond New Zealand or at most Australia. They could not have firearms and were prohibited from leaving their registered homes for more than 24 hours or going beyond a 20-mile radius of home without police permission.
In Wellington, where almost half the enemy aliens lived, the three members of the original Tribunal, plus an extra lawyer, each acted as a separate Aliens Authority. Three were appointed in Auckland, and one in each of the remaining police districts, all being lawyers except at Wanganui and New Plymouth, where they were magistrates. Men prominent in party politics on either side were not selected.86 These Authorities set to work late in November 1940. Those with few aliens in their districts had almost finished at the year's end and by 17 March 1941, except for a handful in one provincial district, all 2341 enemy aliens had been investigated, 80 being interned and many others subjected to various restrictions.87page 868
The five classes were defined in the regulations, and the system was described in official press statements.88 Class A (recommended for immediate internment) held those who openly supported Nazism or Fascism, those who were likely to communicate with the enemy, to side actively with the enemy if he came to New Zealand, or to retard the war effort. Class B (recommended for internment if invasion threatened) held a wide range of persons, some of whom were also in Class C, and some of whom did not fit into the other classes. Class C (to be restricted to one particular employment or place of residence) comprised those not likely to assist the enemy, but whose liberty caused public uneasiness. Class D (to remain subject to aliens regulations but without internment or special restriction) was intended particularly for those whose youth, age or illness made them harmless. In Class E (recommended for exemption from all alien restrictions) were those whose loyalty was thought beyond question. In practice there were many aliens who did not fit accurately into these groupings. Notably there were many recent refugees who might claim to be aliens rather than enemy aliens, but where very little was known about such refugees supervision was thought necessary. By the original instructions they should have been consigned to Class B, for internment if invasion threatened, but in practice the authorities, when reasonably well satisfied about a refugee, put him in Class D, among the infirm, with only basic restrictions. More than nine-tenths of the refugees were put in this class.89
Classifications varied from Authority to Authority especially with Italians. One put most able-bodied peasant-type males into Class E as harmless, another put them into Class B as untrustworthy; most were finally put into Class B or D. In general, a man of character was likely to be classed B on account of his capacity for harm, as was a weakling who might be used as a tool or yield easily to pressure. At any time an Authority could review his verdict on any alien, and must do so if required by the Minister or the police. Thus, as aliens were not told their classification, it was possible quietly to correct the more glaring discrepancies.90
Aliens, particularly refugees who felt sensitive about the term ‘enemy alien’, wanted to know their classification, as in England where many had certificates declaring them ‘refugees from Nazi oppression’. In the New Zealand system it seemed unwise to tell a Class B man that he was provisionally at liberty but would be interned if invasion threatened, and silence here necessarily implied page 869 secrecy over the other classes. If a man was interned, obviously he was Class A; if notified of exemption, he was in Class E; if subject to special restrictions he knew that he was in Class C, but he still did not know what would happen if invasion threatened; if he heard nothing at all about his classification he knew it was either B or D. No Authority was prepared to issue firm guarantees and, given silence, changes in classes could be made without fuss; if because of scanty information a refugee who seemed thoroughly reliable later seemed less so, there would be no document to disturb public confidence. The secret line between B and D separating the unreliable and internable from those probably trustworthy became more important as time went on, with the latter being drawn into the war effort, while the unreliable remained on the fringe.91 Despite the refugees' pleadings, no other label or status was devised, and they remained ‘enemy aliens’, a term that helped suspicion and hostility to persist.
With the classification of enemy aliens completed at the end of March 1941, the Authorities and the police proceeded to work comprehensively through non-enemy aliens. It was not impossible that enemy-minded persons or even enemy agents might have passports from non-enemy states. Since August 1940 any alien arousing suspicion had been liable to investigation; during 1941 all who were or at any time had been nationals of countries under German rule or suspected influence—Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Danzig, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Japan, Thailand—were investigated. Nationals of European countries regarded as less suspect were examined only if they had arrived since the beginning of 1935. All possible information on each person was set before the Minister of Justice who decided whether the case should go to an Aliens Authority for classification. Most of this work was completed by the end of 1941.92 During the year a few score of additional aliens entered the country and were classified, including some German–Jewish refugees, some Polish Jews who arrived by way of Lithuania, Russia, Siberia and Japan, and some Finns from the Pamir, a Finnish barque seized as a prize of war after it had entered Wellington harbour in July 1941,93 although it was not till 7 December that New Zealand formally declared war against Finland, Rumania and Hungary.94
When Japan entered the war practically all aliens whom it was considered necessary to examine had been classified. Of the total 8000 aliens about half, being Chinese, Syrian and American, were page 870 held to be beyond suspicion. The 2341 enemy aliens had been examined and classified; so had 626 of the 830 aliens belonging to the less-favoured non-enemy states; of the 450 from more favoured countries 280 had been sent before Authorities.95
Early in 1942, in the midst of Japanese successes, with air-raid shelters and coastal defences rapidly appearing and evacuation plans being made, nearly 400 aliens in Class B, theoretically booked for internment if invasion or attack threatened, posed an intricate problem. In practice, all classified persons who did not fit into Classes A, C, D or E had been placed in this group; it included those politically pro-Axis but regarded as harmless through age, infirmity or domestic circumstance; those claiming Allied views but who were thought to have deeply divided loyalties; a few whose technical abilities made them potentially dangerous but actually very valuable to the war effort; some Italians who had said that they would defend New Zealand against Germans or Japanese but would definitely not go abroad to fight Italians; some of poor character, who might be pliant under the offer of money, and some recently arrived about whom very little was known.96
In December 1941, police authorities and the Aliens Tribunal pressed strongly for the complete internment of Class B. The Minister of Justice, supported by the Chiefs of Staff, opposed this as both unjust and harmful—harmful both in the loss of those doing valuable work and in tying up more soldiers as camp guards. It was finally decided that Aliens Authorities should re-classify Class B aliens into three subdivisions: B1, for immediate internment; B2, to be interned if the Japanese occupied New Caledonia, Fiji or Samoa; B3, to be interned if New Zealand were invaded. In the event, 26 aliens were interned, 156 were placed in B2, and 184 in B3.97 Those living in coastal cities or other possible invasion points were considered more dangerous than those living inland. Italians presented a particularly anxious problem at this stage, as no one felt sure how they would act in an invasion. The conflicting arguments of security, injustice and waste of manpower were met by sending some of the most disaffected inland to work on the vegetable farms of the Department of Agriculture.
Aliens, even those naturalised, were not liable as were all other fit males for compulsory service in the forces, or until February 1942 the EPS or Home Guard. The authorities, besides being wary of page 871 treachery, feared suspicion and discord in the ranks, feeling that ‘foreign accents were bad for morale’.98 There were, wrote Dr Lochore, … about 150 single male refugees in the age-group eligible for overseas service, and 120 of them are known to have enlisted at one time or another. Many married men also enlisted. In the first months of the war half-a-dozen refugees actually went overseas with the three echelons,99 but for two years after April 1940 not a single alien of any sort was accepted into the armed forces. Indeed it did not pay to be too zealous in that period, for a refugee who showed undue anxiety to serve merely drew suspicion on himself…. So, sometimes with real regret, and sometimes with a sigh of relief, the able-bodied young refugees turned their backs on the war effort and set about building up some economic security for themselves and their kinsfolk.100
Similarly the EPS and the Home Guard were reluctant to accept aliens until early in 1942, when, said Dr Lochore, ‘the realities of the situation took charge.’
In February 1942, the National Service Department told the Mayor of Christchurch, among others, that the government had decided that all male aliens aged between 18 and 65 should apply for enrolment in the EPS, which would use them when satisfied about their good faith, referring all doubts to the police; regulations to this effect would soon follow.101 On 22 June, Regulations (1942/187) made enrolment in the Emergency Reserve Corps obligatory not only to ‘British subjects’ but to ‘all persons whether British subjects or not’. The Dominion of 24 June remarked that ‘this was a mere formality’; for many months friendly aliens had been admitted to certain sections of the EPS. In these regulations, applying to ‘all persons’, the authorities, said Lochore, ‘took their first stand against public opinion by admitting most refugees into the Home Guard and the civil defence organisations. There were no untoward results—except that these carefully-planned decisions were occasionally overridden by know-alls who took grandiloquent stands of principle against “enemy aliens”.’102
Encouraged by this, the Air Force and the Army began to accept refugees recommended to them by security officers. By the end of page 872 the war, 64 had served in these forces, two-thirds on home service only.103 Till 1943 a complicating factor was that those not naturalised had to serve as nationals of their respective states. Naturalisation had ceased for the duration and in any case many had not lived the necessary five years in New Zealand. The British Nationality and Status of Aliens (in New Zealand) Amendment Act of August 1943, following enactments in the United Kingdom, provided that anyone who was or had been in the forces during the war and who was deemed a proper person to become a British subject could be naturalised.104
As time passed without sabotage or shipping incidents, hostility towards aliens on security grounds was eclipsed by hostility towards aliens as cuckoos in the economic nest. To many people aliens, defended by New Zealanders and excluded until 1942 from the demands of even the Home Guard and EPS, were merely waiting for victory and meanwhile were entrenching themselves in business to the detriment of the men overseas.105 For, as Dr Lochore noticed, the recent arrivals, the refugees, sought not only to live in New Zealand but aspired to do well: ‘instead of congregating in little unobtrusive alien cells, like the Italians or Yugoslavs, the refugees were to be found everywhere: buying taxis, taking trade examinations, knocking at the door of the professions, starting new industries, taking over farms.’106 These activities were inevitable. Refugees who had enough drive and resources to get to New Zealand had drive and resources enough to seize chances. Many employers would not take on foreigners, or their presence was resented by other workers, factors which increased the aliens' will to become self-employed or employers, rather than hired men. They remembered inflation in Germany after 1918, and strove to secure the solid asset of property. Almost from the start of the war there had been grumbles about aliens safe in well-paid places, with antagonism at first concentrated upon doctors; soon they provided targets over a wide field of business, with Truth and the RSA prominent in defence of the fighting man's interests.
The president of Auckland's RSA warned in February 1941: ‘Too many members of inimical nations have been freely allowed to enter and settle in this country ever since the last war, and in many cases page 873 they are settled in professions and occupations in detrimental competition with New Zealand or British-born citizens…. My committee considers that all aliens of enemy birth or origin should be interned at once and made to work at the development of waste land and other necessary work of a progressive nature’; thereby at once increasing production and stopping a probable leakage of information.107 A little later Truth announced that the only policy that would satisfy the majority of the public was to intern those against whom there was the slightest suspicion, to conscript the others for non-combatant work at soldiers' pay and at the end of the war let them take their chance along with returned men in the struggle for existence.108 At about the same time the Wellington City Council was unwilling to grant a dairy licence to a former dentist who had left his estate and instruments in Bavaria in 1938. Some councillors were sympathetic, asking what such people could do, short of entering internment camps, if not allowed into business, but others, including the Mayor, held strongly that no German national should receive a licence that might be wanted by a New Zealander or more particularly by a returned man.109
At the end of May 1941, the RSA's annual conference advocated a system of licences for all aliens entering a profession or business, licences which could be withdrawn.110 Truth rejoiced that ‘this important and powerful body’ was alive to the economic infiltration of aliens. Active assistance to the Nazi cause had been ‘efficiently and properly’ checked by the police and the Aliens Authorities, but now there must be safeguards lest returning soldiers should find foreigners in their jobs or professions: ‘If someone must be out of work, it must not be the returned man.’111 Truth's criticism extended to Chinese fruiterers who were opening new shops and dovetailing with Chinese growers to the disadvantage of European greengrocers.112 In June 1941 and again in August, the member for Remuera, W. P. Endean, called for a return to show how many aliens had entered New Zealand during the past three years; how many were interned and on what principles internment was imposed; what properties had been purchased by such recent arrivals, and how many had been bought from men serving overseas.113
Some letters in the Evening Post during October 1941 voiced several aspects of hostility to aliens in business. One wrote: ‘it is page 874 irritating to anyone with next of kin overseas to see good positions being occupied by young, strong and obviously healthy so-called refugees’, protected by New Zealanders while they made themselves comfortable and secure in commercial life. Another resented their prosperity, which was ‘instinctively felt by many New Zealanders’ to have resulted not solely from industry and ability but from applied opportunism, ample resources and aid from well established confreres.114 More informed, J. H. Collins of the Aliens Tribunal pointed out that some aliens had been allowed to enter New Zealand only because they had special qualifications that enabled them to begin new industries and open up new factories; many had played a big part in New Zealand's war effort and were still doing so.115
The NZRSA in November continued its pressure, in complaints to the Minister of Industries and Commerce of instances in which, soon after New Zealand businessmen had been called to the forces, businesses operated by persons of foreign extraction had been opened near the servicemen's establishments. The RSA urged that no alien, enemy or otherwise, should be allowed to commence any business or profession without a licence from the government, which should not be granted for an area occupied by a New Zealander who had given up a similar business to serve his country.116 The Minister replied that steps had already been taken to protect businesses licensed under the Industrial Efficiency Act whose owners had been called to the forces; the position in the case of new entrants into businesses which were not licensed would be fully discussed.117
In March 1942, land purchase regulations (1942/77) checked aliens' buying of land and house property. No one could sell such property or lease it for more than three years to an alien without the written consent of the Minister of Justice. Every case depended on the Minister's decision, and as his guiding principles were not explained to the public at the outset there was room for uncertainty and suspicion. Later, on 22 March 1944, Mason explained that consent was not given for land overlooking places of military importance or likely to be needed for rehabilitation purposes. The alien purchaser must be of good character, and to avoid aggrandisement must page 875 declare all other property owned.118 He must also take some part in the war effort, such as serving in the Home Guard or EPS, or contributing to war loans.119 An alien who had not fulfilled the last condition might be refused, but told that if he met it his application would be reviewed. In September 1944 Opposition speakers protested about a Chinese man, a long-term resident, buying 42 acres of land being told that as a preliminary condition he must invest £500 in a war loan. The Minister explained that this was normal procedure, the investment being regarded as an earnest of willingness to share in community responsibility, with the sum suggested being in proportion to the applicant's means.120 By the end of 1944, out of 514 applications, 404 had been granted (65 for farms, 276 for houses and 63 for business properties), 79 had been declined and the rest were pending.121
This measure prevented aliens speculating in houses or acquiring a number of properties in order to rent them, and it checked the buying of land, long a sensitive point. It did not visibly blunt commercial enterprise or the agitation against it. In October 1942 all males aged between 18 and 45 years who were not British subjects either by birth or naturalisation were directed (Regulation 1942/292) to register for essential industry. This was designed both to bring in more manpower and to diminish resentment against aliens for being free to pursue their own interests amid opportunities created by the absence of others in the forces.
A letter in January 1942 had asked: ‘Does New Zealand intend to support her growing legion of aliens in complacent quiet and comfort indefinitely?’, pointing out that New Zealand males from adolescence up to 60 years old were conscripted for industry.122 Truth said that plausible, fulsome manners could not cloak the hard-headed, arrogant intention of foreigners to make their presence felt in professions and industries. ‘Let our refugees show their gratitude by taking their places in essential industries or works, such as farming, vegetable-growing or where necessary, BUT AT ARMY PAY.’ The page 876 country's defenders should ‘return to a New Zealand we have kept free internally…. let us not be smug and indifferent at showing what is true patriotism. We do not need to hate, we must just hold not only what is our own, but what is our boys’ heritage, who cannot at the moment protect themselves.123 A 1943 letter said: ‘I don't see how you can call people “refugees” who arrive in a country and immediately buy the best businesses and employ New Zealanders to work for them.’124
The clamour against commercial infiltration, by Truth and the RSA, supported by manufacturers, continued strongly, and by 1944 Opposition members repeatedly asked questions about aliens and their business activities.125 Truth, again and again through 1942 and still more frequently in 1943–4, drew attention to aliens in business and manufacturing, frequently repeating its view that aliens were entitled to a living wage, but as employees not employers, and that it would be particularly outrageous if they employed returned men. This view was expressed on 3 March 1944 by F. Finlay,126 member for Hamilton:
Although I have many alien friends whom I respect, I consider that not one of them should be in business and that they should not be in a position to employ ‘Diggers’ coming back from the war. The whole thing is wrong. Aliens have enjoyed security and they should be given work at a fair wage, and they ought to be thankful for that.127
The RSA continued to urge, as in 1941, that aliens starting in business should have licences, issued with regard to vacancies left by New Zealanders entering the forces, and for the duration of the war only. In 1943 the 2NZEF Association, a kindred body, advocated enquiry into the sources of aliens' incomes and what they produced, rebutting criticism as ‘maudlin sympathy’ from the ‘vicariously charitable’ crying over the wrongs of strangers, wrongs which they would alleviate not with their own but with their fighting brothers' capital.128 Such strong sentiments got publicity but they were not held by all servicemen or ex-servicemen. One wrote that spokesmen should avoid statements which might be read as encitement to ‘chauvinistic intolerance’. The president of the 2NZEF Association must be aware page 877 that the opinion he so strenuously defends is not shared by all members of the Association. Indeed, many of us view this anti-alien ebullition as a grave danger signal. The request for an inquiry into their business status and financial resources is, on the surface, not unreasonable, though some may regard it as impertinent; it is the underlying implication and potentialities—the spark that may be fanned into a conflagration that would dismay and alarm even the instigators of the investigation that is to be feared.
If those pressing for an inquiry were sincere they should produce a statement showing how many returned men were adversely affected.129
In March 1944 the statement of an Auckland Manpower officer that aliens, when directed into essential industry, frequently appealed out of it to pursue their own affairs received considerable attention.130 It was linked to the Auckland RSA's demand that the government should set up a royal commission to inquire into the business activities of both friendly and enemy aliens, and that there should be restrictions on aliens purchasing business properties similar to those on their acquisition of land.131 An article in the New Zealand Herald stated that aliens were becoming entrenched in many areas, including luxury manufactures: they were making gloves, model clothing, toilet preparations; they were furriers, street photographers and doctors.132 Keith Holyoake, member for Pahiatua, asked for figures on the number of aliens who had passed through the Customs Department since the outbreak of war, how many had received permits to set up in business or professions, and how many had received import licences on hardship or any other grounds. He spoke of widespread concern about aliens getting ahead in business while returned men had difficulty in getting started, and of the need for a royal commission to investigate.133
The defenders of aliens replied to these attacks. A refugees' committee spokesman pointed out that hundreds of New Zealanders had appealed against Manpower direction, and argued that if it were unpatriotic for an alien to buy a business, was it not unpatriotic of a New Zealander to sell it to him? If an alien problem existed, it was largely of New Zealanders' own making, the result of their attitude to those unfortunate people; New Zealanders should treat them as they themselves would wish to be treated in an alien country page 878 under similar circumstances.134 New Zealand, by requiring a five-year employment guarantee, had admitted only those aliens likely to succeed and was now reproaching them for being successful, wrote F. A. de la Mare.135 One alien, a dental surgeon, pointed out that only Austrians and Germans were enemy aliens; Poles, Czechs and Yugoslavs were not only friendly aliens but allies. The total number of Jewish refugees in Auckland was about 300; about 80 were males, most of whom had offered their services when war broke out. He claimed that no business of any kind had been bought by a Jewish refugee from men called to the forces. Six refugees had acquired dairies, one a grocery business; four were glove-makers, one a street photographer; eleven were farmers, eight were doctors, four were dentists.136
The New Zealand Herald found the term ‘enemy aliens’ unfortunate, suggesting that they were ill-disposed persons who should be interned, whereas their being at large showed that the authorities had accepted their bona fides. The majority were refugees from Nazi tyranny, representatives of the people whose liberation was one of the leading aims of the war, and they should be welcome. But allegations were being made and repeated, allegations that in obtaining licences for new industries aliens had been preferred to returned men. Such talk disturbed morale and encouraged ill-feeling. For the sake of the whole community and of the aliens themselves that injustice, if real, must be rectified; if not, it must be denied so emphatically that it could no longer have credence. There was danger of a real social problem growing up and it should be scotched without delay.137
There were no strong official denials, no royal commission. The Rehabilitation programme was not yet fully fledged, and in considering whether an industrial enterprise was necessary or viable there were many factors besides patriotic virtue. It was not easy, say, to balance Libyan service against experience in glove-making.
Further protest came from another quarter. In May 1944, the New Zealand Manufacturers Federation wanted the government to ensure that all aliens who had started in business since the beginning of the war should work 100 per cent on war and essential civilian production. They also asked that no more aliens should be allowed to set up in business until the end of the war, or until returning page 879 servicemen should have had a reasonable chance to establish themselves. Particularly in Wellington and Auckland, said the manufacturers, aliens' influence in some activities was widespread, was growing, and should be halted. Speakers stressed that they were not moved by racial animosity, but aimed to protect the future of men who were safeguarding the country.138
Ensuing letters in the Evening Post gave several viewpoints. One quoted Norman Angell:139 ‘We must hammer at this fallacy that every immigrant or refugee who gets a job takes it from an English- man’; in New Zealand as in England the knowledgeable or skilled craftsman refugee, sometimes working with local businessmen, had extended industries, making more jobs.140 Another wrote, ‘Imagine the resentment that will be held by our boys returning from overseas if they have to apply to aliens for positions…. New Zealand has its own population problem without having to worry about becoming a cosmopolitan race.’ Perhaps when the housing situation had been righted and the birth rate was increasing, New Zealand could begin to think about aliens. The writer did not want aliens to think him unsympathetic, ‘but New Zealanders must come first in their own country… otherwise we will be the refugees.’141 A few thought that aliens, persecuted in their own countries, should not be harried when making a fresh start.142 Another wanted stringent direction of aliens into essential labour, including domestic work: ‘It is only fair that refugee women especially help to carry the burden which war has placed on the shoulders of New Zealand women. It is only right that refugees, who have fled from their own country to avoid death and destruction, should be only too willing to take their part in winning the war by putting their shoulders to the wheel with the majority of wives and mothers of our fighting men overseas, instead of “picking the plums”’.143
At the end of June 1944, the NZRSA repeated its opposition to the acquisition of land and businesses by aliens while men were serving overseas, asking that all sales and leases of property to enemy aliens, and the acquisition by them of shares in limited liability companies, should be prohibited.144 On 7 August Holyoake again page 880 endorsed the RSA's concern over aliens in business and again urged a royal commission. Eraser explained that the Auckland RSA had already been informed that their statements were of a general nature, not a basis for action, but if details were supplied the government would inquire. Precautions were being taken to guard the returned men's interests, and a royal commission was not necessary.145 The RSA thereafter published in the Auckland Star an account of exchanges between the government and itself over aliens in business, stressing that while Skinner,146 the Minister of Rehabilitation, had answered promptly, the Minister of Justice, Mason, had made long delays.
The report stated that in December 1943 the national executive of the RSA, hearing that regulations controlling alien business enterprises were intended, had asked that two of their members should see these before they were gazetted. They inquired further in mid- February 1944, and on 22 March, when still without a reply, asked Mason three questions: had or had not regulations for the protection of businessmen serving overseas been drafted? If drafted, could two members of the Dominion executive of the RSA read and discuss them? If not already drafted, was there any intention of bringing forth such regulations? The Minister had not replied until June and then evasively, without answering the questions but asking for a factual survey of known cases, with any specific suggestions as to conditions or restraints in each case that would be feasible and effective to protect servicemen. The RSA claimed that specific instances had been quoted as far back as 1941, including the fishing, transport and glove industries, and 32 extra Chinese fruitshops that had opened in Auckland between the outbreak of war and October 1941. It claimed that suggestions for restraints had been given in December 1943, urging that when any alien proposed entering a business or profession where a New Zealander had had to give up a similar job to enter the forces, the status of the alien should be advertised and the licence, if granted, should be for the duration of the war only. With the fifth year of war nearly completed, returned men were deeply perturbed at the government's inexcusable delay in taking drastic action to protect the livelihood of servicemen overseas.147
The RSA was by this time so critical of the government in other areas, such as its indulgence of conscientious objectors, that this attack lacked novelty and, with no election pending, the government rode page 881 out the storm. In 1942 Cabinet had indeed considered and recommended a system of business licensing, but although several draft regulations were prepared they were never enacted, principally because the government felt that aliens were not in general prejudicing returned mens' opportunities in civilian life and that there was room for both aliens and servicemen in the community.148 The vigorous past president of the RSA, W. Perry, who filled the gap in the War Cabinet left by the death in May 1943 of Gordon Coates, had in September 1943, just before the election, been made Minister in Charge of Aliens, an appointment calculated to allay RSA anxiety. Mason, however, continued to administer the land purchase regulations, the only ones that approached the area of business discontent.
The RSA's zeal to protect New Zealanders from aliens did not slacken. Its annual conference in 1945 advocated that any persons who had arrived in New Zealand from Germany, Austria, Hungary or Italy since 1939 should have to return to their own countries within two years after the war's end. They should be allowed to take with them the amount of money and property that they had declared to the Customs Department on arrival. Any surplus should be sold and distributed by the government to the wives and dependants of those who fought for the aliens' respective countries while they enjoyed peace and plenty in New Zealand.
This drew comment from ‘Whim-Wham’:149
An Alien's skill and Industry
May earn his keep? Don't talk to me!
Each Case he treats, each Lathe he turns
It is MY Money that he earns
Exhausting by his useless Toil
Our over-populated Soil….
The More we send or drive away
The More there'll be for Those who stay
Let's start at once, at the Expense
Of those who have the least defence
(“Mein Kampf” tells how): and after Them
It will be easier to condemn
Some other Section of this Reich
Whose Race or Face we do not like
And have them summarily evicted
Until New Zealand is restricted
To those self-guaranteed as fit
To govern & inhabit It.
Refugee numbers and resources were too modest to threaten an economic invasion, although some no doubt appeared alarmingly well provided to those who expected refugees to possess only battered suitcases and humility. Dr Lochore, who had access to official records on aliens, analysed the means whereby New Zealand's 1054 refugee aliens,150 547 men and 507 women over the age of 16, earned their livings in 1945. There were 657 full-time in gainful occupations, and 251 engaged mainly in domestic duties; 66 were retired, incapacitated or unemployed; 35 were full-time students and 45 were in the armed forces. Of the 657 gainfully employed, 43 were in agriculture (22 employed, 21 independent). Manufacturing claimed 146, wholesale trades and business 23, retail trades and business 92. In the professions were 166: accountancy 14, architecture 14, dentistry 21, education and research 3:3, engineering 16, industrial chemistry 7, medicine 34, nursing 16, veterinary medicine 4, others 7. Among various occupations which engaged 100 were 15 clerks, 5 electricians, 12 domestic helps, 7 laboratory assistants and 15 mechanics. There were 65 in unknown occupations, probably unskilled or semi-skilled, and 22 women working full-time within husbands' businesses. It was estimated that 44 were making more than £1,000 yearly, 66 had incomes of between £500 and £1,000, while 547 earned less than £500. In the 123 manufacturing and business undertakings owned by refugees, 5 had more than 20 employees, 5 had between 10 and 20, 28 had fewer than 10 and 85 had none. Among the wholesalers, about 16 importers merely cut into the import licences of older firms, without making any worthwhile contribution to the community. The retail traders were generally modest, while those in the professions and in manufacturing made solid contributions to public welfare.151
General restrictions and supervision continued throughout the war, local police making quarterly reports on their aliens in classes B, C and D. Aliens Authorities reviewed cases where fresh information was received by the police or by censorship, and Manpower officials were advised on relevant details. The Aliens Appeal Tribunal advised Perry as required and heard appeals against internment. As the months passed, the number interned lessened. In November 1945 page 883 all restrictions were removed, save that persons not British subjects still had to register with the police.152
The number of internees waxed and waned according to the course of the war and surveillance measures, as when about 30 Italians were added after Italy entered the war, and 26 internments resulted from the overhaul of Class B after the entry of Japan. According to Police Department figures the 23 internees of December 1939 rose to a peak of 185 in December 1942.153 Customs Department lists of former internees, supplied by Internal Affairs' passports section in 1974, gave the total as 160 men, of whom 89 were resident in New Zealand, 71 came from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and the Cook Islands. Their nationalities were as follows:154
|Nationality||From NZ||From outside NZ||Total|
The number gradually lessened. Italians were released after Italy became an ally, and some Germans from the Islands were released when the Pacific war receded northward, and the governments of their islands no longer felt that security required their internment: for instance, five Germans from Western Samoa returned there in June 1944.155 By the police figures, 133 were interned at December 1943, 61 a year later, and 47 in September 1945.156
Early in 1942 the Swiss consul, on behalf of the internees, reminded the government of its responsibility, under the Geneva Convention of 1929, to keep interned persons away from a possible fighting zone. Accordingly, another camp was built at Pahiatua, and Somes Island internees were moved there during 1943.157 In 1944, page 884 when the Pahiatua buildings were required for Polish refugee children, the remaining internees were moved back to Somes Island.
An almost invisible agency in the control of aliens was the Security Intelligence Bureau, affiliated with the Services, and set up at the request of the British government to co-operate with corresponding branches all over the Commonwealth,158 with a Major Folkes, sent out from Britain in February 1941, at its head. It made use of information on aliens gathered by postal censorship and from 1942 was closely concerned with matters such as acceptance of aliens into the armed forces, their purchase of property and naturalisation. The Bureau supplied postal censors with crew lists of any foreign ships in port so that they could identify any letters posted locally, investigated the small Indian community and gave information on overseas security policies.159
The Bureau under Folkes was discredited in 1942 by a bizarre hoax. Late in March, Sidney Gordon Ross came out of prison and obtained interviews with two Cabinet ministers who passed him on to the Bureau. His stories of Fifth Columnists and plots for sabotage and assassinations preceding invasion were believed and as ‘Captain Calder’, working with the Bureau, he built up a far-ranging fantasy until, after three months, it was punctured by the police.160
An account of the hoax appeared in Truth on 29 July 1942 and on 30 July the press censor forbade further reference to the Bureau or the hoax.161 On 21 October Fraser, replying to questions by Lee, said that the accuracy of the Truth statement was being investigated and that public safety measures could not be discussed in public.’162 In March 1944, questioned on the number of Category A men in the Bureau, Fraser said that its strength had been ‘very considerably reduced’ in the past year, but three Category A men were needed in its ‘most secret and important’ work.163 On 15 September 1944, to a general question about the ‘secret service’, Fraser explained its origin164 and said that it was now under the able police superintendent James Cummings. The officer from Britain had been returned as a ‘grave misfit’ who had shown extraordinary credulity. It was a story worthy of Jules Verne and he hoped that it would be written page 885 up.165 The Auckland Star promptly obliged with a long article on ‘New Zealand's greatest hoax’.166 The incident had renewed publicity in the 1968 narrative of ex-prisoner Ward McNally, Cry of a Man Running, and in a New Zealand television programme in October 1982.
1 Lochore, p. 59
2 Yearbook1942, p. 42
3 Lochore, p. 59
4 Church News, Mar 39, p. 5
5 Outlook, 30 Nov 38, p. 3
6 Ibid., 23 Nov 38, p. 5
7 Methodist Times, 12 Aug 39, p. 13
10 Press, 24 Jul 39, p. 8
13 Outlook, 29 Nov 39, p. 19; Church Chronicle, 1 Apr 40, p. 38; Press, 30 May 40, p. 11
15 Ibid., 27, 28 Oct, 3 Nov 39, pp. 12, 9, 11
16 Reprinted in Union Record, 15 Dec 39, p. 8, from Woman Today
17 On 27 March 1942, Goebbels reflected in his diary: ‘If I were on the enemy side, I should from the very first day have adopted the slogan of fighting against Nazism, but not against the German people. That was how Chamberlain began on the first day of the war, but, thank God, the English didn't pursue this line.’ The Goebbels Diaries, translated and edited by Louis P. Lochner, p. 103
19 Truth, 17 Jan, 21 Feb 40, pp. 1, 8
20 Ibid., 24 Jan 40, p. 7
21 Press, 5 Feb 40, p. 11
22 Ibid., 15, 16, 23, 24, 28 Feb 40, pp. 14, 12, 15, 4, 7
27 Press, 3 Feb 42, p. 4
30 Press, 27 Jan 42, p. 6
32 NZ Observer, 10 Feb 43, p. 9
33 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 40
34 Ibid., pp. 41–52; WHN, ‘Aliens’, pp. 4–5, 14–6
37 WHN, ‘Aliens’, p. 12
38 Ibid., p. 11; Lochore, p. 60
39 Calder, pp. 130–2; Fleming, Peter, Invasion 1940, pp. 109–10
42 See pp. 98ff, 107ff
44 Wanganui Herald, 23 May 40, p. 8
46 Truth, 5 Jun, 10, 17 Jul, 7 Aug 40, pp. 1, 9, 1, 1
52 Evening Post, 6 Sep 40, p. 6
53 Lochore, pp. 71–2
54 Press, 24 Jun 40, p. 6
57 Ibid., 20 Jun 40, p. 4
58 Ibid., 20 May 40, p. 9
59 See p. 122
62 See p. 95
64 See p. 121
66 Taranaki Daily News, 11 Jun 40, p. 8
72 NZ Herald, 1 Jun 40, p. 15
73 Wild, Leonard John, CBE('52) (1889–1970): foundation headmaster Feilding Agricultural High School 1922–46; Pro-Chancellor NZU 1948
78 Ibid., 29 May 40, p. 5
79 WHN, ‘Aliens’, pp. 17, 19. By direction of the Prime Minister, the Police Department was entitled to safeguard its sources of information by withholding such details as appeared necessary to ensure the success of further investigations. WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 79
80 WHN, ‘Aliens’, p. 18
81 Weston, Claude H., KC('34), DSO (d 1946aet 67): Crown Prosecutor New Plymouth from 1915, Auck from 1931, Wgtn from 1934; Judge-Advocate from 1935; 1st Pres NZ Nat party 1936; Vice-Pres Wgtn RSA many years, Pres 1941–4
82 Collins, James Henry (1897–1970): b England, to NZ early 1920s; founded Wgtn Caretakers Union 1936; Sec Wgtn & NZ Musicians Unions from 1938; Nat Sec Brewery Workers Union; associated NZ Lab party from days of M. J. Savage, member party's nat exec until 1969; Aliens Tribunal, patriotic, rehab and other nat movements during and after WWII; JP; served WWI
84 That is, any person over 16 years who, although he might be a British subject by birth or naturalisation, was, or at any time had been according to the laws of any state not forming part of His Majesty's dominions, a national of that state. Certain exceptions concerned women, marriage and declarations of nationality.
85 WHNs: ‘Aliens’, pp. 22–3, ‘Police Department’, p. 83
86 WHN, ‘Aliens’, pp. 23–4; Press. 7 Dec 40, p. 12
89 WHN, ‘Aliens’, pp. 25–6
90 Ibid., pp. 26–7
91 Ibid., pp. 27–8, 32
92 Ibid., p. 33
93 Baker, p. 374
94 Documents, vol I, p. 14
95 WHN, ‘Aliens’, pp. 33–4
96 Ibid., pp. 37–8
97 Ibid., p. 40
98 Ibid., p. 44
99 The 22 male Jewish refugees living in Christchurch at the outbreak of war wrote to the local military authorities offering their services. Dominion, 6 Sep 39, p. 6. Three Austrians were mentioned as having enlisted in the NZEF. Ibid., 15 Jan 40, p. 6; Truth, 15 Apr 42, p. 8, discussed the chances that a few might have gone overseas through official oversight; see p. 863
100 Lochore, pp. 84–5
101 Press, 28 Feb 42, p. 8
102 Lochore, p. 85
104 WHN, ‘Aliens’, p. 45
106 Lochore, p. 72
108 Truth, 26 Mar 41, p. 16
110 Ibid., 31 May 41, p. 10
111 Truth, 11 Jun 41, p. 16
112 Ibid., 13 Mar 40, p. 13, 14 May 41, p. 8
115 Ibid., 9 Oct 41, p. 10
116 Ibid., 20 Nov 41, p. 4
118 In the first prosecution under this clause, in June 1944, an alien who, in attempting to make a purchase, declared that she had not acquired any property since these regulations came into force, was found to have bought a property for £1,350, which was later sold for £300 profit. Magistrate Luxford, calling this a ‘very impudent offence’, fined her £400 to remove the profit. Evening Post, 9 Jun 44, p. 9
119 NZPD, vol 264, p. 507
121 WHN, ‘Aliens’, p. 49
123 Truth, 22 Apr 42, p. 4
124 Auckland Star, 24 Mar 43, p. 2
125 NZPD, vol 264, p. 507, vol 265, p. 148, vol 266, pp. 628, 636, vol 267, p. 343
127 NZPD, vol 264, p. 118
128 Auckland Star, 18 Dec 43, p. 4
129 Ibid., 21 Dec 43, p. 2
131 Ibid., 17 Mar 44, p. 5
132 Ibid., 21 Mar 44, p. 4
134 NZ Herald, 24 Mar 44, p. 2
135 Ibid, 20 Mar 44, p. 2
136 Ibid., 25 Mar 44, p. 9
137 Ibid., 22 Mar 44
141 Ibid., 6 Jun 44, p. 4
142 Ibid., 5 Jun 44, p. 4
144 Ibid., 29 Jun 44, p. 4
145 NZPD, vol 265, pp. 148–9
146 Skinner, Hon Clarence Farringdon (1900–62): MP (Lab) Motueka from 1938; appointed Cabinet while in Middle East during WWII, returned to take positions Min Rehab, Lands, Cmssnr State Forests, Min in charge Valuation Dept, Scenery Preservation
147 Auckland Star, 9 Aug 44, p. 4
148 WHN, ‘Aliens’, p. 46
150 He explained that they were mainly of German and Austrian origin, though often the determination of nationality was ‘endlessly complicated’ by Furopean wanderings and other factors; but in varying degrees all were Jewish.
151 Lochore, pp. 72–81
152 WHN, ‘Aliens’, p. 50
154 IA 163/3/8
156 WHN, Aliens', p. 50
158 NZPD, vol 266, p. 367
159 WHN, ‘Post & Telegraph Censorship’ (hereinafter WHN, ‘P & T Censorship’), pp. 36, 71
160 Wood, pp. 161–2, describes the affair and its official disclosure
161 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap VI, p. 14. Scholefield in his diary on 5 Sep wrote scathingly of an ‘incipient gestapo run by immigrants.
162 NZPD, vol 261, p. 875
163 Ibid., vol 264. p. 504
164 Ibid., vol 266, p. 367
166 Auckland Star, 18 Sep 44, p. 6