Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign
PUBLIC FORUM: WW1, THE CASE OF FR JERGER AND CIVIL LIBERTIES – THEN AND NOW
A public forum on the internment of Marrickville priest, Fr Charles Jerger, during WW1 and his subsequent deportation in July 1920, was held on Sunday November 22.
Co-hosted by Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign and St Brigid’s Parish, the forum was addressed by three speakers: Dr Janice Garaty, Assoc Prof Douglas Newton and Dr Peter Manning.
Read the detailed review of the three presentations here.
The text of Douglas Newton’s presentation entitled ‘The Father Charles Jerger Case and the Domestic Political Context of the Great War in Australia’ can be found here.
Australian voters were first asked on October 28, 1916 to vote on the issue of conscription. Universal military training for Australian men aged 18 to 60 had been compulsory since 1911. The referendum, if carried, would have extended this requirement to service overseas.
The referendum, or plebiscite more accurately, sparked a divisive debate that split the public and the Labor Party. In the midst of this controversy, Fr Jerger gave a sermon in St Brigid’s original church in Despointes Street in Marrickville.
Following the sermon, a local parishioner, Mrs McCall, officially complained that Jerger had expressed disloyal sentiments aimed at discouraging enlistment in the Australian Imperial Force. Jerger denied having made such statements to police investigators.
Late in 1917 Jerger was again accused of conducting an anti-British campaign and interned at Holsworthy Internment Camp on February 15, 1918 under the War Precautions Act (1914) and associated Regulations. However the charges against him were never specified.
Solicitor-General, Sir Robert Garran, recommended deportation on March 29, 1920. In June, Garran heard evidence from Fr Jerger. Thomas Ryan, Jerger’s counsel, was prevented from appearing. Garran reasserted his claim that Fr Jerger’s “attitude of mind” was German, that “during the war his sympathies were with the Germans, and that he gave expression to these feelings”. Such inadequately supported claims bolstered the belief that this hearing was nothing more than a show trial.
The failure to hold a proper trial and have witnesses examined, heightened the feeling that Jerger had been unfairly treated. Demonstrations were organised and court actions and the threat of strikes were used in an attempt to keep him in the country.
Jerger was released on April 30, 1920 but rearrested on July 7. He was eventually deported from Adelaide in July 1920.
LAUNCH OF MARRCKVILLE PEACE PARK – SUNDAY 8TH NOVEMBER
The official launch of ‘Richardson’s Lookout – Marrickville Peace Park’ took place on Sunday November 8. The event attracted around 80 people.
Speakers included John Butcher (GCPC Convenor), Allan Barnes (Marrickville Aboriginal Consultative Committee), Clr Sam Iskandar (Mayor, Marrickville Council), Clr Sylvie Ellsmore (Marrickville Council), Linda Burney MP and Jo Haylen MP.
One of the most evocative parts of the launch was the reading of Denise Levertov’s poem ‘Talk in the Dark’.
In many respects, Denise Levertov’s poem captures the essence of the Peace Park. While elements of the movement for peace may have started with a concern for the safety of individuals, the movement’s ultimate goal is the peaceful welfare of humanity. This includes the renouncement of war and the replacement of ‘arm-to-survive’ defence strategies with a commitment to peacemaking and peacekeeping in zones of conflict around the world.
More information about the launch, including Denise Levertov’s poem and photos of the event, can be found here.
RECONCILIATION WALK HELD IN MARRICKVILLE – 30 MAY 2015
The Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign (GCPC) in conjunction with the Cooks River Valley Association (CRVA) held a Reconciliation Walk in Marrickville on Saturday May 30.
The event was organise to (a) mark the anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision on 3 June in 1992 recognising native title (b) call for the Frontier Wars and their deleterious impact on Aboriginal peoples to be officially recognised (c) acknowledge the 1,000 plus Aboriginal soldiers who fought in WW1 and who faced ongoing discrimination, and worse, on their return home and (d) welcome Marrickville Council’s recent co-naming of Richardson’s Lookout as Marrickville Peace Park.
The walk along the river via three Aboriginal Interpretive Sites was led by Wiradjuri woman, Jennifer Newman and attracted over 50 people.
ANZAC FORUM AT PETERSHAM TOWN HALL – APRIL 22, 2015
The Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign hosted a public forum on April 22 called ‘Gallipoli and Anzac after 100 Years: Lessons and the Prospects for Peace Today’.
Despite the wild weather, over 80 people attended the forum to hear three speakers: Douglas Newton (historian), Margot Pearson (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – WILPF) and Anne Noonan (Medical Association for Prevention of War – MAPW).
In his presentation, Douglas Newton stressed that “(w)e have to challenge the familiar smear: that all those that send and keep our troops abroad love, respect and honour them; and all those who question the wars to which the troops are sent hate, disrespect and dishonour them.” That, he claimed, is “contemptible political fakery”.
Read the post ‘Gallipoli and Anzac after 100 years’ about the forum here. Attached to the post are videos of the introduction to the forum and the three speakers’ presentations. The full text of Douglas Newton’s address is also attached to this post.
MARRICKVILLE COUNCIL SUPPORTS PEACE AND RECONCILIATION PARK PROPOSAL – UPDATE
In October 2014, Marrickville Council’s Community & Corporate Services Committee supported GCPC’s proposal for Richardson’s Lookout to be co-named a Peace & Reconciliation Park and for the declaration to be made during Council’s Gallipoli Centenary commemorations, subject to community consultation..
The results of Council’s community consultation, released earlier this year, showed strong support for Richardson’s Lookout to be co-named a Peace & Reconciliation Park.
Since that time Council has been preparing the content of the signage to be installed in the park. GCPC has recommended that Council should consult widely with relevant stakeholders about the content of the signage and that it should contain QR codes linked to Council’s website offering the public more historical data on the precinct.
It now appears likely that the declaration of Richardson’s Lookout as a Peace and Reconciliation Park around the time of the Gallipoli Centenary (25 April) will take the form of Council making an announcement via the media while deferring an official naming ceremony until later in the year.
View GCPC’s flyer about the history of Richardson’s Lookout and the rationale for a Peace and Reconciliation Park here.
(Photo: Entrance columns relocated to Richardson’s Lookout in Marrickville South).
ABOUT GALLIPOLI CENTENARY PEACE CAMPAIGN
The Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign (GCPC) is sceptical about the Gallipoli Centenary commemorations confronting many of the myths about Australia’s war experience, especially those associated with the Anzac legend.
Claims that our nation was born at Gallipoli, that our national identity was forged in war, and that we fought at Gallipoli for ‘freedom and democracy’, all lack substance and seriously distort Australians’ understanding of their history.
GCPC rejects the proposition that Australia’s prevailing values are militaristic values.
As the media collaborates with various government agencies as never before to promote this falsehood, GCPC believes that both the Gallipoli Centenary ‘celebrations’ and the Anzac Centenary (2014-2018) more broadly are appropriate occasions to query the myth-making and the sanitisation of war.
GCPC also believes that it is time for the nation to officially recognise the earlier Frontier Wars and acknowledge the impact that these domestic wars had on the subsequent dispossession and displacement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
More information on GCPC and its program of activities can be found here.
(Photo: Portion of mosaic featuring Aboriginal resistance leader Pemulwuy and son Tedbury – Cook’s River, Canterbury City Council).
Rachael Hocking, ‘Constitutional recognition and a treaty: Can we have both?’, SBS News, updated 20 Mar 2015.
Paul Daley, ‘Anzac Day should be quarantined from politicians – a solemn moment to reflect on the agony of war’, The Guardian, 23 Apr 2015.
Post entitled ‘#Brandzacday’ on GCPC’s website, 19 Apr 2015.
Interview with WW1 historian Douglas Newton, Radio SkidRow, 16 Apr 2015.
Article on GCPC’s genesis and objectives published in Green Left Weekly, 1 Nov 2014.
For information on future events including talks, forums, conferences, exhibitions and anti-war actions, go to GCPC’s Events Calendar.