Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Johann Friedrich Schulz (1883–1964)

by Ian Harmstorf and Liz Schulz

This article was published:

Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Schulz (1883-1964), schoolteacher and printer, was born on 19 March 1883 at Point Pass, South Australia, youngest of four children of Prussian-born parents Gottfried Schulz, labourer, and his wife Maria, née Späde. Educated at the Lutheran School and Immanuel College, Point Pass, Johann was appointed a teacher at the former school in 1901. He moved to Queensland in 1904 and taught at the Bethania Parish School. At the Evangelical Lutheran Chapel, Lights Pass, South Australia, on 26 April 1906 he married Ernstine Caroline Kruschel (d.1956). While continuing to teach at Bethania, he became a freelance reporter for the Brisbane Courier-Mail in 1907. Back in South Australia, he taught at the Tanunda Lutheran Day School from 1912 until the wartime closure of all Lutheran schools in the State on 30 June 1917.

After working for several local businesses, Schulz spent eighteen months in 1921-22 as storekeeper at the Lutheran Mission, Finschhafen, Mandated Territory of New Guinea. In 1926 he was employed at Auricht's Printing Office, Tanunda, as manager and journalist. He knew his fellow townsman Dr Johannes Becker and filmed German visitors, including Hans Bertram in 1932 and Count Felix von Luckner in 1938. Fluent in German, he frequently spoke at functions in the Barossa Valley and served as a committee-member (1937-44) of the South Australian German Historical Society.

In 1940 Schulz joined the Australian Labor Party. He gained pre-selection for the House of Assembly seat of Angas at the ensuing election. On 13 December he was arrested at Tanunda under the provisions of the National Security Act (1939). The Commonwealth Security Service claimed that he had attended meetings of the Nazi Party in Adelaide, kept Nazi propaganda at his home and visited Germany. His house was searched, various items were confiscated and he was taken to the Wayville detention camp, Adelaide. Although he was unable to campaign for the election on 29 March 1941, he polled 723 of the 3733 votes. Two appeals against his internment were rejected. In May 1941 he was sent to Tatura, Victoria. In April 1942 he was transferred to Loveday, South Australia. He wrote numerous letters to State and Federal politicians in which he asserted his loyalty.

Released on probation in January 1944, Schulz was directed to work and live in Adelaide, but he was permitted weekend visits to Tanunda, except during the State election that year. He was allowed to return home in May because of his age and ill health. On his release, some of his confiscated possessions were returned: two incriminating German badges which did not belong to him were among them. Despite a two-year correspondence with various government departments, he never learned why he was interned or how the badges came to be with his belongings.

Schulz managed Auricht's at Tanunda before retiring to Adelaide. He died on 3 October 1964 at Royal Adelaide Hospital and was buried in Langmeil Lutheran cemetery, Tanunda. His son and two daughters survived him. Inquiries after his death revealed that it had been alleged that he belonged to an organization inimical to the interests of the British Empire and had made disloyal utterances and pro-Nazi statements. The accusations were not proven.

Select Bibliography

  • E. M. Schulz, Guilty Till Proven Innocent (B.Ed. thesis, Salisbury CAE, 1987)
  • A367, item C66704, D1915, items SA18743 and SA20419, D1919, item SS827 (National Archives of Australia)
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Ian Harmstorf and Liz Schulz, 'Schulz, Johann Friedrich (1883–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 21 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


19 March, 1883
Point Pass, South Australia, Australia


3 October, 1964 (aged 81)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.