We are all aware of that old maxim : “ Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”..But are we here in Australia, particularly South Australia aware of just how close we stand to the sculptured pediment of ancient European history ?..I suspect not..so allow me a moment of condescension and I will tell you a tale of many lives over many years.
I will point out that this is the first or two posts I hope to do with this on the subject of competency to govern by the so called ; “Born to rule” class..This post describes the style of “management” of governance by what can be best described as the most useless, incompetent, collection of real-estate speculators that ever were put in charge of administration.The second part will point out how and why we need to change the selection process..if not the descriptive adjectives!
Given the limitations of time (on the reader’s part) and space on the length of what constitutes a “readable post” on a blog-site, I have decided to forego detailed acknowledgement of my sources and steam headlong into the guts of my thesis..If you want details, you will just have to ask.
Where I live in the Sth. Aust’ mallee, there is a massive amount of unrecorded history…NOT in the nuts and bolts of who, what and where, but in the WHY and BY-WHOM. Of population settlement in the district. For this area contains the “overflow” of the early German migrants who first came to Sth Aust’ as part of George Fife Angas’s recruitment program of cheap-labour from that pool of eastern Germans newly incorporated into the greater German Republic in the 1850’s with the annexation of the eastern states of Europe…beyond the Oder River and around the Vistula River of what is now Poland.
“Trees don’t pay taxes”..was the catch-cry of the commissioners of the South Australia Company.
Those peoples, mostly Slavic in ancestry were compelled to Germanise their names, religion and culture as part of the new Republic or suffer the consequences..hence the migration of entire villages replete with Pastor to Australia in the 1840’s onwards to the end of the century. These eastern Europeans were known mostly to themselves as Wends or Sorbs. And unlike the other two waves of Germanic migration; The persecuted Middle-class from the German cities who settled and brought culture to Adelaide and the proletariat industrial workers from the cities, who brought trade and industrial skills to the state, they held their culture and themselves to themselves and their Pastors. Hence the close-knit settlements around the Barossa Valley and Kapunda / St Kitts / Stonefield areas of Sth Aust…and right up to the late 1950’s, English in their homes was a second language.
I have noted the many unrecorded efforts of many of those families while they battled with Angas’s use of their hard labour and their dedicated to family attempts to hold onto their impossible to farm successfully; hopelessly small plots of land and were in many cases left destitute and broken by what must be a deliberate plan to use them to clear-fell those sections of the mallee most suitable for cropping. The same as happened to many “Soldier Settlers” on the Murray Plains around Pinnaroo after the 2ndWW. When they were sent into the bush with little more than axes, picks and shovels and the remnants of their khaki uniforms to carve their fortunes and fates out of the hardy mallee..and in the end only broke their backs succeeding in clear-felling their selections for the local Bush aristocrats to pick them up when they went broke or shot themselves in despair..
“He was a bachelor, you see.
He was a soldier-settler
Out in the mallee scrub…
And he died…
Father went through his things
But he couldn’t throw these out…”
She “thumbed” out the pockets of her breeks.
“They have his army number on them, see !
He was a lovely old man , my Uncle Bill.”
But I have seen a few “Uncle Bills”,
Spurned or turned from a woman’s embrace.
Uncertain and clumsy in affection
Toward sisters or brother’s children…
“The breeks were army issue,
Part of the “deal” for soldier-settlers…
God only knows how he struggled out there.”
A soldier-settler alone in the mallee.
“God only knows.”
“Trees don’t pay taxes”…the commissioners said.
The plots of land “leased” on a strange time payment plan to the Germans with the proviso that all produce was to be sold through Angas’s company were too small and lacked deep topsoil and water to maintain fertility past the first few years of clear felling and wind-storms that decimated a land totally unsuitable for continual farming the like of European soils. Even as soon as the early years of the twentieth century, super-phosphate was being used to fertilise the “gutless” soils, to have one of their modern-day grandson farmer confess to me that ; “We are no longer ‘dirt farmers’ but chemical farmers”…So the intrepid pioneers cleared their little plots from fence-line to fence-line trying to maximise their output…to no avail, and many had to walk away from the land and trek to distant places more fertile…places like Hamilton , Victoria, The Riverland, The Adelaide hills and such places..scattered to the winds along with the breaking up of families and culture…the untold story of lost dreams of so many vulnerable folk under the tyranny of a dominant culture and capital-based society.
When many of the East Germans arrived in the later years of the nineteenth century, many made their way north to the lower Flinders Rangers..to places like Hammond, Craddock, Gordon, Farina and others even more lost in the sands of time..
“Rain will follow the plough” they told the settlers who established themselves in those first good seasons, then the dry set in and it all went to hell…the land collapsed, the farms went dry as dust, the people walked off their properties and the towns collapsed back into rubble and then sunk back into the earth they so wearily rose from.
“Rain will follow the plough”, they said and so the Ploughs went back south ..to Stonefield, Sandelton and Sedan..hard mallee country..with a slender top-soil and below, a layer of “calcrete” so hard every vibrating crowbar strike would ring ; “Gibraltar!” and so they drained and farmed the swamps and the hilltops and the stoney flats..picking up the stones by hand and throwing them into piles from the back of the dray..they farmed them with wood and iron and steel ploughs till the tynes and shares were worn to a slither or blunt as a gibber…They farmed the wind-blown flats till their families died with the diphtheria or in harrowing births gone wrong, attended only by young girls too frightened by the ghastly complications of childbirth to do little but cry in shock of what could very soon be their own fate…or they died in fires and accidents too frequent to collate in a doctors surgery, too far from a doctors assistance and left buried in sad, lonely cemeteries, serenaded only through the fall of time by sighing sheoaks around the perimeter of the church yard.
This is how far they came from the Vistula River, from the deep soils of the Danube and the Oder..This is how far they brought the remnants of their culture..here ; to the rim of a far horizon.
“Trees don’t pay taxes”..the likes of Henry Ayers and George Fife Angas proclaimed from their seats in the new parliament.
And many left for greener pastures…more profitable trades..but the Lehmans stayed and made wine..the Saegenshnitters stayed as did the Rosenschwietzs and the Krugers and the Greatzes and the Kochs…They stayed and worked the land or in the towns and built their churches and fought amongst themselves…They stayed…but forgot just exactly where their ancestors came from…forgot why their culture mattered.
Local historian Reg Munchenberg, now deceased, wrote of the origins and the land titles held in the Stonefield and Truro areas of those hardy Germans..those Wends / Sorbs..and he told of how, when many of the third generation here had retired and desired to go back to “the old country” to find their roots, many were shocked to find they had to go into Poland..them believing they were pure German stock. When in all the time they were both reviled by the Western Germans as a people who came from the east to take their jobs or later as potential Bolsheviks who they hunted down and killed with pogroms in the industrial areas of Danzig..and then upon return to their homeland after the war to find the Polish hated them for being “German” and their ancestral graveyards and records were destroyed by an angry, vengeful people.
And so we come via a circuous route back to the Roman Empire when they fought the Venerdi / Suebi ..; The Wends and the Sorbs..back across the Danube..back into Germania, back into the future to await their next awakening here in South Australia..where once again they will become a part of a history they will not write, they will not control…for it is the victors who write the histories, we are told, and this area of the mallee, between the eastern hills and the Murray River is one fertile history that has yet to be written.