German Australians

German Australians
Total population
898,674 (by ancestry, 2011)
108,003 (by birth, 2011)
4.5% of total Australian population.[1]
Regions with significant populations
South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland
Australian English, German, Barossa German
Predominantly Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism.[2]

German Australians (German: Deutsch-Australier) are Australian citizens of ethnic German ancestry. The German community constitute one of the largest ethnic groups in Australia, numbering 898,700 or 4.5 percent of respondents in the 2011 Census. It is the fifth most identified European ancestry in Australia behind 'English', 'Irish', 'Scottish' and 'Italian'.


The 2011 Census counted 108,000 Australian residents who were born in Germany.[1] However, 898,700 persons identified themselves as having German ancestry, either alone or in combination with another ancestry.[1] This number does not include people of German ancestry who selected their ancestry as simply "Australian". The 2001 census recorded 103,010 German-born in Australia, although this excludes persons of German ethnicity and culture born elsewhere, such as the Netherlands (1,030), Hungary (660) and Romania (440).

In December 2001, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs estimated that there were 15,000 Australian citizens resident in Germany.[3]

According to the 2001 Census, the Germany-born are more likely than Australians as a whole to live in South Australia (11.9 per cent to 7.6 per cent) and Victoria (27.0 per cent to 24.7 per cent). They are also more likely to live in rural and regional areas. It is probable their German Australian children share this settlement pattern.

According to census data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2004, German Australians are, by religion, 21.7 per cent Catholic, 16.5 per cent Anglican, 32.8 per cent Other Christian, 4.2 Other Religions and 24.8 No Religion.

In 2001, the German language was spoken at home by 76,400 persons in Australia. German is the eighth most widely spoken language in the country after English, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Arabic, Vietnamese, Spanish, and Tagalog.

Immigration history

 No. of arrivals
July 1949 – June 2000[4]
July 1940 – June 1959[lower-alpha 1]July 1959 – June 1970[lower-alpha 2]
Total settler arrivals5,640,6381,253,0831,445,356
Percentage of settlers from Germany4.5%13.0%3.5%

Germans have been in Australia since the commencement of European settlement in 1788. At least seventy-three Germans arrived in Australia as convicts.[5]


Klemzig, the first German settlement in Australia (now a suburb of Adelaide), painted by George French Angas in 1846
Alexander Schramm's A Scene in South Australia (1850) depicts German settlers with Aborigines

Germans formed the largest non-English-speaking group in Australia up to the 20th century.[6]


Forty-Eighters is a term for those who participated in or supported the European Revolutions of 1848. Many emigrated as a result of those revolutions. In particular, following the ultimate failure of the "March Revolution" in Germany, a substantial number of Germans emigrated to Australia. See Forty-Eighters in Australia.

Fleeing militarism

Many Germans had emigrated to Australia to flee the rise of militarism and martial chauvinism in the land of their birth. Indeed, "After the Unification of Germany under Prussia in 1870/1871, when Universal Conscription was brought in across all the States of Deutschland, the pattern of emigration from Germany to Australia changed. Instead of the earlier pattern of the majority of settlers arriving in families, young single men started to arrive, young men who were at odds with the increasing militarisation of their Fatherland, and also often at odds with the Rampant Chauvinisation of German Social Life."[7]


By 1900, Germans were the fourth-largest European ethnic group on the continent, behind the English, Irish and Scots.[8]

By 1914, the number of German-Australians (including the descendants of German-born migrants of the second and third generation who had become Australians by birth) was estimated at approximately 100,000.[9]

Throughout both World Wars Germans were considered an "enemy within" and a number were interned or deported – or both. The persecution of German Australians also included the closure of German schools, the banning of the German language in government schools, and the renaming of many German place names. To avoid persecution and/or to demonstrate that they commit themselves to their new home, many German Australians changed their names into Anglicised or Francophone variants. During WWII, Australia was also place of incarceration of 2,542 "enemy aliens" deported from Britain, composed of many of the Austrian and German nationals who were expelled in a blanket deportation, and numerous Italian citizens.[10] Notorious for the inhumane treatment present during the voyage, the 2,053 anti-Nazis, 451 prisoners of war, and approximately 55 Nazi sympathisers and others departed from Liverpool via HMT Dunera shortly after the Fall of France in 1940.[10]

After the Second World War, Australia received a large influx of ethnic German displaced persons who were a significant proportion of Australia's post war immigrants. A number of German scientists were recruited soon after the War through the ESTEA scheme some of them coming by migrant ships such as the Partizanka.[11][12] In the 1950s and 1960s, German immigration continued under assisted migration programs promoted by the Australian Government. By July 2000, Germany was the fifth most common birthplace for settler arrivals in Australia after United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand.[4] By 1991, there were 112,000 German-born persons in Australia.


Australia has long been a popular destination for German backpacker tourists and students.[13]


There are the following German international schools in Australia:

German Australian culture

The Australian wine industry was the creation of German settlers in the nineteenth century.[14]

The Goethe-Institut is active in Australia, there are branches in Melbourne and Sydney.[15]


Historically, German newspapers were setup by early settlers, with many being forced to close or merge due to labour shortages caused by the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s-1860s. A number of the earliest South Australian newspapers were printed primarily in German, and these included:

  • Die Deutsche Post für die Australischen Colonien (1848-1850) - Adelaide: Australia's first non-English newspaper[16]
  • Suedaustralische Zeitung (1850–1851) - Adelaide
  • Deutsche Zeitung für Süd-Australien (1851) - Tanunda
  • Adelaider Deutsche Zeitung (1851–1862) - Adelaide: this was also the first German language newspaper to publish an entertainment supplement - Blatter fur Ernst und scherz.[17]
  • Süd Australische Zeitung (1860–1874) - Tanunda/Adelaide
  • Australisches Unterhaltungsblatt (1862-1916) - Tanunda: a supplement to the Süd Australische Zeitung and Australische Zeitung
  • Tanunda Deutsche Zeitung (1863-1869) - Tanunda; later renamed Australische Deutsche Zeitung
  • Australische Deutsche Zeitung (1870-1874) - Tanunda/Adelaide: a Melbourne edition of the newspaper was also printed 1870-1872.
  • Neue Deutsche Zeitung (1875-1876) - Adelaide: opposition newspaper to Australische Zeitung
  • Australische Zeitung (1875–1916) - Tanunda/Adelaide: formed by the merger of Süd Australische Zeitung, and Australische Deutsche Zeitung; closed due to WWI
  • Australische Zeitung (1927-1929) - Tanunda: attempted revival
  • Adelaider Post (1960-1962) - Adelaide: South Australian edition of the Sydney-based Die Woche in Australien.
  • Neue Australische Post (1984-1993), Salisbury

Notable Australians of German ancestry

NameBornDescriptionConnection to AustraliaConnection to Germany
Eric Abetz1958Australian SenatorEmigrated to Australia from Germany in 1961Born in Germany
Eric Bana1968Australian ActorBorn in AustraliaGerman mother
Gerard Brennan1928Judge and retired Chief Justice of Australia (1995–1998)Born in AustraliaGerman maternal ancestry
Bettina Arndt1949Sexologist and critic of feminismBorn in the United KingdomGerman father
Heinz Arndt1915EconomistEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Shaun Berrigan1978Rugby League playerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Henry Bolte1908Politician (Premier of Victoria)Born in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Dieter Brummer1976Soap opera actorBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Ernest Burgmann1885Anglican bishop and social justice activistBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Meredith Burgmann1947Politician (Australian Labor Party)Born in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Wolfgang Degenhardt1924ArtistEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany-
Carl Ditterich1945Australian rules footballerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Andrew Ettingshausen1965Rugby League playerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Brad Fittler1972Rugby League playerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Harry Frei1951CricketerEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Gotthard Fritzsche1797Lutheran pastorEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Ken GrendaBusinessman and philanthropistBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Michael Grenda1964Olympic cyclistBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Andre Haermeyer1956Politician (Australian Labor Party)Emigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Heinrich Haussler1984CyclistBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
George Heinz1891Australian rules footballerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Hans Heysen1877Landscape artistEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Ben Hilfenhaus1983CricketerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Bert Hinkler1892AviatorBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Hermann Homburg1874PoliticianBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
August Kavel1798Lutheran pastorEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Kristina Keneally1968Politician (Premier of New South Wales)Emigrated to Australian from the United StatesGerman ancestry
David Klemmer1993Rugby league playerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
David Koch1956Television presenterBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Gerard Krefft1830Zoologist and palaeontologistEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Sonia Kruger1965Television presenter, media personality and dancerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Dichen Lachman1982Actress and producerRaised in Adelaide, AustraliaBorn in Nepal to a German Australian father
Ludwig Leichhardt1813ExplorerEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Darren Lehmann1970CricketerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Carl Linger1810ComposerEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Stewart Loewe1968Australian rules footballerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Bertha McNamara1853Socialist and feministEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
John Monash1865Australian GeneralBorn in AustraliaGerman (Jewish) Parents
Ferdinand von Mueller1825Botanist, geologist and physicianEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
David Neitz1975Australian rules footballerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Nadine Neumann1975Olympic swimmerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Hubert Opperman1904Cyclist and politicianBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Arthur Phillip1738First Governor of New South WalesServed in NSW 1788–1792German father
Ingo Rademacher1971Soap opera actorEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Jack Riewoldt1988Australian rules footballerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Nick Riewoldt1982Australian rules footballerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Hermann Sasse1895Lutheran theologianEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Chris Schacht1946Politician (Australian Labor Party) and mining company directorBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Manfred Schäfer1943Football (soccer) playerEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Jessicah Schipper1986Olympic swimmerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Melanie Schlanger1986Olympic swimmerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Mark Schwarzer1972Football (soccer) playerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Emily Seebohm1992Olympic swimmerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Gert Sellheim1901ArtistEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Lithuania to ethnically-German parents
Wolfgang Sievers1913PhotographerEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Christian Sprenger1985Olympic swimmerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Carl Strehlow1871Lutheran missionaryEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Ted Strehlow1908AnthropologistBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Matthias Ungemach1968Olympic rowerEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Shane Warne1969CricketerBorn in AustraliaGerman mother
Chris Watson1867Prime Minister of AustraliaEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Chile to ethnically-German father
Shane Webcke1974Rugby League playerBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry
Judith Zeidler1968Olympic rowerEmigrated to AustraliaBorn in Germany
Markus Zusak1975WriterBorn in AustraliaGerman ancestry

See also


  1. Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs: Settler arrivals by birthplace data not available prior to 1959. For the period July 1949 to June 1959, Permanent and Long Term Arrivals by Country of Last Residence have been included as a proxy for this data. When interpreting this data for some countries, it should be noted that in the period immediately after World War II, there were large numbers of displaced persons whose country of last residence was not necessarily the same as their birthplace.
  2. Note this period covers 11 years rather than a decade.


  1. 1 2 3 "Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012–2013". 2011 Census. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 14 March 2013. Total count of persons: 19,855,288.
  2. "Welcome to the Department of Home Affairs". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  3. "Estimates of Australian Citizens Living Overseas as at December 2001" (PDF). Southern Cross Group (DFAT data). 14 February 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2008.
  4. 1 2 "Immigration: Federation to Century's End 1901–2000" (pdf (64 pages)). Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. October 2001. p. 25. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
  5. Donohoe, J.H. (1988) The Forgotten Australians: Non-Anglo or Celtic Convicts and Exiles.
  6. G. Leitner, Australia's Many Voices: Australian English – The National Language, 2004, p. 181
  7. Knoll, Wayne D. (4 May 2011). "GERMAN-AUSTRALIAN ALIENS OF MILITARISM: The Anti-War German-Australian Story". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  8. Harmstorf, Ian and Cigler, Michael (1985) The Germans in Australia Melbourne : AE Press. Australian ethnic heritage series. ISBN 0-86787-203-9
  9. Kay Saunders, Roger Daniels, Alien Justice: Wartime Internment in Australia and North America, p. 4
  10. 1 2 "Wartime internment". Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  11. U. v. Hofmeyer, The Employment of Scientific and Technical Enemy Aliens (ESTEA) Scheme in Australia: a reparation for World War II?, Prometheus 12 (1) (1994), 77–93.
  12. Muenstermann, Ingrid (30 May 2015). Some Personal Stories of German Immigration to Australia since 1945. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781503503137.
  13. Trade, corporateName= Department of Foreign Affairs and. "Australian Embassy in". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  14. Speech By The Prime Minister, The Hon PJ Keating, Mp Luncheon The His Excellency Dr Von Weizsaecrer, President Of The Federal Republic Of Germany Parliament House, Canberra, 6 September 1993 Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. "Goethe-Institut Australien". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  16. Laube, Anthony. "LibGuides: SA Newspapers: C-E". Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  17. Laube, Anthony. "LibGuides: SA Newspapers: A-B". Retrieved 2018-08-22.

Further reading

  • Harmstorf, Ian and Cigler, Michael. The Germans in Australia (Melbourne: AE Press. Australian ethnic heritage series, 1985). ISBN 0-86787-203-9
  • Lehmann, Hartmut. "South Australian German Lutherans in the second half of the nineteenth century: A case of rejected assimilation?." Journal of Intercultural Studies 2.2 (1981): 24–42. online
  • Lehmann, Hartmut. "Conflicting kinds of loyalty: The political outlook of the australischer christenbote, Melbourne, 1867–1910." Journal of Intercultural Studies 6.2 (1985): 5–21.
  • Petersson, Irmtraud. German Images in Australian Literature from the 1940s to the 1980s (P. Lang, 1990)
  • Seitz, Anne, and Lois Foster. "Dilemmas of immigration—Australian expectations, migrant responses: Germans in Melbourne." Journal of Sociology 21.3 (1985): 414–430. online
  • Tolley, Julie Holbrook. "A social and cultural investigation of women in the wine industry of South Australia" (thesis, 2004) online
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