Australia–Germany relations

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Australia-Germany relations



Australia–Germany relations are foreign relations between Australia and Germany. Germany has an embassy in Canberra and a consulate general in Sydney, as well as a number of honorary consulates throughout Australia.[1] Australia has an embassy in Berlin and a consulate general in Frankfurt.


New Guinea

Lifeboats with some of the survivors from German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran towed to Carnarvon, Western Australia, by the freigher Centaur. HMAS Sydney was lost with all hands.

An early collision of Australian and German interests dates to the early 1880s, as both the German Empire and the elites of Britain's Australian colonies were interested in exploiting the resources of the island of New Guinea. Eventually, the north-eastern quarter of the island became a German protectorate in 1884 (German New Guinea), while Queensland annexed the southeastern quarter of the island to the British Empire in 1883. In 1902-1905, soon after the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia, this Territory of Papua was formally transferred under the Australian administration. Thus a land border between German and Australian colonial possessions came into existence, at least as a line on world maps. In practice, however, there was little if any colonial presence in the interior of the island, and the border remained mostly unsurveyed.

The two wars

As a member of the British Empire, Australia found itself at war with Germany in both World War I and World War II. Although the two countries are widely geographically separated, both wars involved some direct encounters between the two countries' militaries. Although Australians' best-remembered operation in WWI, the Gallipoli Campaign, was fought against the Turks, many Australian units faced Germans on the Western Front, while the small Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force fought Germans in the Pacific. At the conclusion of the war, an Australian delegation participated in the negotiating of the Treaty of Versailles, codifying the partitioning of the former German Empire among the winners. The Treaty of Versailles became the first international treaty signed by Australian representatives.[2] Pursuant to the treaty, the former German New Guinea became Territory of New Guinea, administered by Australia under a League of Nations mandate. The remote isolated island of Nauru, which formerly had been administratively part of the German New Guinea, became a separate mandate territory - theoretically, under jointly administration of Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, but de facto run primarily by Australians.

In WWII, the Battle between HMAS Sydney and German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran in November 1941 resulted in the sinking of both ships; the Western Desert Campaign, including the Siege of Tobruk was an important land campaign with major German and Australian participation.

During both wars, German enemy aliens found in Australia at the outbreak of the war, were interned.[3] Internee and PoW camps throughout Australia also housed a number of German sailors (from both the merchant marine and the navy), as well as German prisoners of wars brought from other theaters (primarily, north Africa).

Diplomatic history

German Empire has a consulate in Sydney since the late 19th century. The German consul, Carl Ludwig Sahl (1840-1897),[4] who spent most of his life in the South Pacific region, received his acceptance by British authorities on October 18, 1872;[5] he served in Sydney until his death in 1897, and was buried there.[4]

After WWI, the first consul of the Weimar Republic, Dr Hans Büsing, arrived to Australia in 1924.[6]

Diplomatic relations between Australia and the Federal Republic of Germany started soon after the creation of the latter. In 1949, an Australian mission was established in Bonn, accredited to the Allied High Commission (the occupation government). In 1952, the mission was converted to an Australian embassy accredited to the FRG government.[7][8]


Monthly value of German merchandise exports to Australia (A$ millions) since 1988

Trade between the 2 countries is sizable but heavily weighted to imports from Germany. In 2008, total two-way merchandise trade was valued at over A$13.4 billion, of which A$11.4 billion (85 per cent) were imports from Germany.[9]

See also