'The Enemy at Home' installation view Photo © Jenni Carter for Sydney Living Museums

The Enemy at Home

Newly discovered photographs by German internee Paul Dubotzki reveal what it was like to be interned in Australia during World War I

During World War I nearly 7000 so-called ‘enemy aliens’ were interned in camps in New South Wales. One was young Bavarian photographer Paul Dubotzki, whose remarkable photographs record the experience of internment from 1915 to 1919. In 2007 his entire archive was discovered in the small German town of Dorfen and it was brought to Australia for the first time.

Dubotzki’s photographs tell an extraordinary story. Australians of German and Austrian descent, and Germans captured by the Allies in Asia, were imprisoned in isolated camps. These internees from all walks of life transformed their situation in detention with ingenuity, industry and determination. They created intricate societies with cafes, clubs, newspapers, an array of small businesses, theatres, tennis courts, kitchen gardens, laundries, boat-building and regattas, beach activities and athletic demonstrations.

This exhibition was a story of artistry, ingenuity and resilience that revealed a little-known part of Australia’s wartime history.

Major sponsor

The Sydney Morning Herald


Migration Heritage Centre


7 May 2011 - 11 September 2011