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The German Influence

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by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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Published January 4th 2018
Is it time to move on?
A lot of things were happening in Australia 100 years ago. The trans-Australian railway line was nearing completion, the HMAS Australia had its second collision in as many years, and many Australian service people were serving overseas in the Great War. But it was an event in the latter weeks of 1917 that closed the chapter on one of South Australia's much-loved cream buns.

The German Influence, Petersburg, Peterborough, Ambleside, Blumberg, Hahndorf Inn, German Arms, Lobethal Bierhaus, Blumberg Hotel
Cream delight - Steve Hudson


The year was 1917 and anti-German sentiment in Australia was running strong. So strong was the sentiment that the humble Berliner Bun, a much-loved pastry sliced on its side and filled with jam and fresh cream before being dusted with sugar, was about to change its identity. Almost overnight, and in South Australia alone, the Berliner became known as the Kitchener Bun, named after British Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, a person made famous for his role in the death of Breaker Mordant.

The German Influence, Petersburg, Peterborough, Ambleside, Blumberg, Hahndorf Inn, German Arms, Lobethal Bierhaus, Blumberg Hotel
The German Club


But changing the name of a cream bun was nowhere near enough to satisfy the anti-German sentiments which arose passionately in South Australia following the large influx of Germans during the 19th Century, more so than the rest of Australia combined. German (Lutheran) schools were closed, German newspapers shut down and many wines were forced to adopt different names and labels. The largest impact though came in early 1918 when the Nomenclature Act was proclaimed, and 69 South Australian towns and regions were renamed in an attempt to remove all German references from the State. Bethanien became Bethany, Hergott Springs changed to Marree, Friedensthal became Black Hill, and Klemzig evolved into Gaza.

The German Influence, Petersburg, Peterborough, Ambleside, Blumberg, Hahndorf Inn, German Arms, Lobethal Bierhaus, Blumberg Hotel
Bethanien or Bethany?
German
Klemzig or Gaza?
 


The Adelaide Hills was a popular place for German immigrants to settle during the 19th Century with many of them naming their new villages or towns after something relevant to them. However this association was to be broken as a result of the Act, and many towns changed their names including Blumberg (to Birdwood), Grunthal (Verdun), Hahndorf (Ambleside), Lobethal (Tweedvale) and Germantown Hill (Vimy Ridge).

The German Influence, Petersburg, Peterborough, Ambleside, Blumberg, Hahndorf Inn, German Arms, Lobethal Bierhaus, Blumberg Hotel
Blumberg Hotel in Birdwood


Further afar, the railways town of Petersburg received the anglicised name of Peterborough, despite heavy protests from the Petersburg Times, while the area on the Murray Plains saw several name changes, including Rhine Villa to Cambrai, and Rhine River South and North to the Marne and Somme Rivers respectively.

The German Influence, Petersburg, Peterborough, Ambleside, Blumberg, Hahndorf Inn, German Arms, Lobethal Bierhaus, Blumberg Hotel
Petersburg Plaque - Steve Hudson


The Barossa Valley didn't escape the attention either with many small villages being forced to change their names and brands including Seppelts (to Dorrien), Kaiserstuhl (Mount Kitchener), Gnadenfrei (Marananga), Langmeil (Bilyara), Kronsdorf (Kabminye), Siegersdorf (Bultawilta) and Langdorf (Kaldukee).

The German Influence, Petersburg, Peterborough, Ambleside, Blumberg, Hahndorf Inn, German Arms, Lobethal Bierhaus, Blumberg Hotel
Dorrien-Field?


It took some 17 years before some sanity prevailed and in 1935 a number of towns were restored to their previous names, including Hahndorf, Lobethal and Klemzig. And thank goodness for that as how many of us have spent an afternoon in Hahndorf at the German Arms devouring a gorgeous Schnitzel followed by a couple of ales from the Lobethal Bierhaus and a night of fun at the Lobethal Lights. The Ambleside Hotel and a Tweedvale Bitter just before a tour of the Tweedvale Twinkles just doesn't bear consideration.

The German Influence, Petersburg, Peterborough, Ambleside, Blumberg, Hahndorf Inn, German Arms, Lobethal Bierhaus, Blumberg Hotel
The Ambleside Hotel?


One of the more prominent Adelaide suburbs for German immigrants was Klemzig, and the Klemzig Pioneer Cemetery pays homage to the achievements of a number of German immigrants who travelled to Australia courtesy of the efforts of the Englishman known as George Angas. Angas is remembered by his family's efforts in creating the towns of Angaston and Keyneton, while also being the one who supported the emigration of Pastor Kavel, Martin Basedow, Johann Gramp, Joseph Seppelt and Jochim Wendt, all household names to South Australians.

The German Influence, Petersburg, Peterborough, Ambleside, Blumberg, Hahndorf Inn, German Arms, Lobethal Bierhaus, Blumberg Hotel
Commemorative Plaque


Some 40 years later in 1975 and a few more smaller areas reverted back to their original names, but there are still 42 towns or regions with new names, with Peterborough and Birdwood being the two largest that have yet to revert. Does time heal all wounds? Is it time to consider the remaining? Is there anything wrong with the Petersburg Railway Station or the Blumberg Mill?

The German Influence, Petersburg, Peterborough, Ambleside, Blumberg, Hahndorf Inn, German Arms, Lobethal Bierhaus, Blumberg Hotel
Petersburg Railway Station - Steve Hudson


But back to where we all started and the much loved Kitchener Bun, a treat whose calories are believed to fall away upon slicing, and a treat known as a Berliner in the rest of the country and indeed in South Australia more than 100 years ago. What should it be called?
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Why? Centenary of the Nomenclature Act
Where: South Australia
Your Comment
Yes, the reply by doggi is correct - we still call Kitchener Buns by that name and Berliners are still called Berliners and they are indeed different, as described below by doggi. I love them both and so did my mother.
by colle (score: 0|9) 342 days ago
Kitchener buns and Berliners are completely different things! Kitcheners are cream donuts with jam, covered in sugar. Berliners have jam sealed inside and no cream or sugar but pink or white icing on the top.
by doggi (score: 1|10) 344 days ago
A very interesting article Steve and an enjoyable read.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|6160) 336 days ago
This is a great background. Thanks.
by Annette Vandersluis (score: 2|764) 344 days ago
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