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Elizabeth M. Schulz 

Prisoner Diaries

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Liz Schulz by Maria Ames

Liz Schulz is an artist, educator, and author. The catalyst for the research that would become Prisoner Diaries and Guilty Till Proven Innocent was a request from Liz’s mother more than 50 years ago. In 1970, on returning from living overseas for 10 years, her mother asked her to help research the Schulz family history. After she died 7 years later, the job of gathering together all the family documents fell to Liz. When she found the diaries, she knew they were an important part of not only her family, but Australia's social and wartime history.

As part of Liz’s Bachelor of Education, she was encouraged by her professor, Margaret Allen, to research her grandfather’s detention story. She researched the papers at the Australian Archives, and used content from her grandfather’s diaries, family letters, and military documentation. After successful presentation and positive feedback, Liz sent copies to family members. Typed and bound, her copy languished on a bookshelf for decades.

When Liz retired in the mid-2000s, she chose the tranquillity of Andamooka in a semi-underground home built of local stone. She started sorting books and papers and came across the notebook where she had transcribed, in pencil, all his diary entries. Re-reading the papers provided her with the understanding that there was much more to tell.

Liz has wonderful memories of her grandfather and it feels like she is honouring him to tell his story and to share it as an example of detention, especially given Australia’s current legislation.

Prisoner Diaries and Guilty Until Proven Innocent are dedicated to the memory of J.F.W. Schulz and Liz’s twin sisters, Josie and Helen.


Prisoner Diaries

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J.F.W Schulz was an Australian of German heritage who was born north of the Barossa Valley in Robertstown. He was the owner of Auricht’s Printing Office, he had a keen interest in film, and was an aspiring politician. He was also a prisoner. ...

On 13 December 1940, Schulz was arrested and transported to the Wayville Army Barracks. No accusations were made at that time, but Schulz knew what the arrest meant; someone, somewhere, considered him a threat.

Despite an absence of evidence of his disloyalty to Australia, his country of birth, and without a fair trial, Schulz was detained for more than three years. Prisoner Diaries is a record of Schulz’s internment during World War II and his relentless search for answers.

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Prisoner Diaries Testimonial – Donald A. Ross
The history of the internment of J F W Schulz during World War II is a story that needs to be told; it is an example of how misguided patriotism caused Australians of German descent to be treated as “enemy aliens” during two World Wars despite the fact that they were responsible citizens who had through their industry contributed a lot to the development of their Australian home. The comment has been made that only a small portion of these people were interned; however, those who were not interned also suffered discrimination in various ways, including losing the right to vote during the First World War.
Elizabeth (Liz) Schulz was fortunate to have available diaries and correspondence kept by her grandfather, J F W Schulz, documenting his internment during World War II, thus making this publication possible.
I have pleasant memories as a schoolboy in the late 1940s attending movie film shows of various scenes filmed by Mr. Schulz. These film shows were fundraisers for useful purposes. At the time of World War I, Mr Schulz was the head teacher of the bilingual German/English Langmeil Lutheran School at Tanunda, S A, (one of his pupils was my late father Laurence Ross). By Government decree, all Lutheran primary schools in South Australia were closed in 1917, and thus he lost his job.
Donald A. Ross, Secretary, Barossa Valley Archives & Historical Trust Inc.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

In 1940, Australian born, J.F.W. Schulz, a respected member of the community in Tanunda, South Australia was arrested and put into detention.

He was accused of being a Nazi and of keeping Nazi propaganda in his home.

Although he maintained his innocence and made a number of appeals against his detention, he remained in detention, far from his family, for another three years and for a further year he was under government direction regarding his occupation and his place of residence.


In this meticulously researched history, his grand-daughter, Liz Schulz explores the reasons given for and the circumstances of his arrest. She had access to the security files of the Australian government: files which her grandfather was never able to examine. She was also able to draw upon her grandfather's own diary and correspondence held in private hands.  In mapping his own quest for justice she seeks to get justice for her late grandfather.


While this thesis concerns one individual's struggle it also relates to wider issues about the rights of British subjects of German origin in war-time Australia. Furthermore it illuminates contemporary discussions about civil rights and the power of the state.

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