Somes Prisoners

Some World War Two Newspaper Clippings

The Evening Post, 29 November 1941

Lying Low? German Escapees, The hunt continues, public co-operation

"With the carefully organised police and Army nets spread throughout the country, the three Germans who escaped from internment on Somes Island on Wednesday night are no doubt lying low until the initial energy of the search has been exhausted. If this is so there is probably more chance of their capture by the public than by the established forces.

Police officers pointed out today that the paramount necessity in such a case was the co-operation of the public, because, if the men planned their escape, they would almost certainly have arranged some hiding-place in which they could stop until the hue and cry has died down.

It is possible that the men may be recognised from the photographs published below.

Finke is about 30 years of age, 5ft 7in in height, dark complexion, brown hair, blue eyes, thick lips, pointed chin. He has a scar on his right forearm, and may be wearing grey or blue clothes.

Schroeder is about 23 years of age, 6ft 1in in height, fresh face, fair to reddish complexion, fair hair, blue eyes. He is understood to be tattooed on both arms.

Strewe is 6ft 1in in height, fair complexion, fair hair, blue eyes.

It was originally thought that the men, after landing, boarded a train for the Masterton district, but this theory has now been largely discounted.

If the fugitives are in hiding, the possibility that they are obtaining shelter with fellow-aliens is considerable, although this would be a dangerous course for such aliens to follow, especially as they would be, in the normal course of events, subject to police surveillance, and doubly so with the escaped Germans a large. In all probability the men have money, but to spend this directly would be to lay themselves open to increased danger of detection.

In all districts where it is thought the Germans might have passed through or taken refuge police inquiries have been painstaking, and every hopeful avenue has been investigated. Restaurants and other places where they could have obtained meals and refreshment have been checked up, and aliens and other suspected sympathisers questioned.

Although the police and the Army have the ability to keep a very firm check on the movements of suspected persons on trains, buses and other public conveyances, on highways, and on shipping leaving the country, if the men are hiding it is the ordinary man in the street, who far outnumbers the law and the military, and quickly perceives anything unusual in his own neighbourhood, who is going to be valuable.

Men answering the description of the missing Germans seen leaving or entering houses where they are known not to reside, especially at unusual hours, or giving rise to suspicion by reason of their movements, should be looked out for.

At the time of going to press no word had been received of the capture of any of the escapees."

Hans Finke (left) and Carl Oscar Schroeder (right)

Frederick Georg Theodor Strewe

The Dominion, 10 October 1945

Internees Being Released: Enemy Aliens on Somes Island may to directed to work.

"Enemy aliens who have been interned on Somes Island during the war are being released. Authority for this action is expected in the Gazette to be published tomorrow.

In the meantime, the Minister of Justice, Mr Mason, has agreed to the release of the internees, and some have already returned to their homes. It is understood that some will be deported and others will be permitted to remain in New Zealand.

Those who remain will be directed to work of a high priority nature, such as railways, public works and mental hospitals, regardless of whether they come within the age group for direction by the National Service Department (18 years to 45 years). No ex-internee will be allowed to commence in business, or work of his own account without permission of the authorities.

Enemy aliens were first interned on Somes Island shortly after the outbreak of the European war, and at present there are approximately 40 on the island.

During the period of internment there was one attempt at escape. This was on November 26, 1941, when three internees got away in a dinghy, and used improvised oars to reach Petone beach. Four days later they were captured at Akatarawa, north of Upper Hutt, approximately 25 miles from Petone."

The Evening Post, 15 October 1945

Camp Closed: Somes Island Aliens, explanation of position

" The Somes Island internment camp where approximately 80 aliens were held during the war, has been closed, said the Minister in Charge of Aliens (Mr Mason) today. Asked what the Government had in contemplation in respect to aliens generally the Minister said the present regulations were purely emergency ones for the exigencies of war. In addition to a registration system they provided for classification of aliens and restrictions which varied with the type of alien, some of which were discretionary on the part of the authorities.

'The matter has been complex,' said the Minister, 'by reason of the fact that the merely legal classification into enemy and non-enemy alien or even into alien or British subject by no means coincided with the difference in degree of caution necessary to be exercised in respect to any particular individual.

'The war now being over drastic curtailment of the regulations is in immediate contemplation. In particular the provisions for internment, which were a precautionary measure to guard against any activity that might impede the winning of the war, are likely to be revoked as they have now served their purpose and the discharge of men from Somes Island is merely in anticipation of this step.

'Some little difficulty is involved in making provision for several Japanese whose knowledge of English is limited, but that obstacle is being overcome. The continuation of the camp for such isolated cases can hardly be justified.'

When asked whether any of those who had been interned would be deported, the Minister said internment and deportation were entirely different questions. In any case, the condition of other countries and shipping facilities made it idle to discuss the matter at present."