George Derschow and Jan Cowan's interview in Port Hedland

George Derschow and his daughter Jan Cowan discuss the internment in Fremantle of George’s father Frank Derschow in both World War 1 and World War 2 as a result of his German background. Frank became an Australian citizen very soon after arriving in Australia from Germany in 1901 and was clearly making a life in Australia, but the authorities interned him regardless. During his second period of internment for World War 2, Frank’s indigenous wife Ivy was left alone to cope with their many young children, including George, many hundreds of kilometres inland and north of Fremantle with no income or support. Frank was a prolific letter writer, and protested his situation strongly to the Government of the day but to no avail. Jan believes her grandfather’s internment negatively impacted his prospects for employment after the war, and through that impacted the whole family, and she regrets the lack of any government acknowledgement to this day of the wrongful internment of her grandfather and many other Australian citizens during the World Wars, and the effects of this action on those interned and their families.

This interview took place on 4 September 2015 in Port Hedland and was conducted by Professor Mick Dodson with Craig Greene as part of the Australian Research Council-funded research project Serving our Country: a history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence of Australia.

The interview recording above is made available to be viewed here by permission of the interviewee(s), George Derschow and Jan Cowan. The recording may not be copied, reproduced or communicated in whole or in part without the prior permission of the interviewee(s). Requests for permission for use of this material should be made to the Serving our Country research project: our contact details.

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Updated:  16 July 2015/Responsible Officer:  Director, Serving our Country/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team