EMPLOYMENT OF GERMAN SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL PERSONNEL IN CIVIL
INDUSTRY IN AUSTRALIA
1. In 1945, the President of the Board of Trade announced in the
House of Commons that it was the British Government's policy to
secure from Germany a knowledge of scientific and technical
development for the benefit of the nation and to make such
knowledge available to those who could use it. A similar policy
was announced by U.S.A. and by Russia.
2. As part of this policy, a limited number of German key
scientists and technicians who, after enquiry, are certified as
politically unobjectionable are voluntarily recruited in Germany
for service in Great Britain where they work under strict super-
vision. In general, selection is confined to those experienced in
industries new to the United Kingdom or in which German practice
was ahead of British practice. In no case is a German brought in
to undertake work that could equally well be performed by a
British subject. The co-operation of the British Trades Union
Council and the Employers Federation has been enlisted to ensure
the success of the scheme which, to date, has worked very
3. Confidential information has now come to hand from Mr. J. R.
Cochrane, Leader of the Australian Scientific and Technical
Mission to Germany, that the British Board of Trade is
contemplating a change of policy which will involve the employment
of many more German scientists and technicians than was originally
intended. A quantitative assessment of the magnitude of the
problem is now hurriedly being prepared. For this purpose, the
Control Office in Germany and Austria, in consultation with
Departments, is, as an urgent matter, compiling a list of those
German scientists and technicians whom it is considered,
constitute a serious danger in the hands of others. If a new
policy is adopted, it is expected as a corollary that more liberal
conditions of employment may have to be offered. For instance,
consideration is being given to permitting his family to join the
German scientist as soon as possible after he leaves his country,
and naturalisation requirements will be made easier. It is stated
that these contemplated changes arise from information now in the
hands of Britain and U.S.A. that the Russians are ignoring the de-
Nazification policy laid down in Potsdam and are offering
employment to scientific personnel on liberal terms irrespective
of their political history. It is felt that a wholesale drift of
German scientists and technicians eastward would increase
significantly the war potentiality of Russia. Mr. J. R. Cochrane
indicates that he has been informed that this whole matter will be
brought officially to the notice of the Dominions at the highest
level in the near future.
4. In Great Britain, there are two controlling authorities, namely
(a) the Deputy Chiefs of Staff for Germans employed on Defence
(b) the Darwin Panel for Germans employed in civil industry. It is
to the latter class that this submission relates.
5. Consideration and discussion by Australian scientists with high
British personages, both in England and in Germany, reveal a
consensus of opinion that from a long term point of view the
utilisation in the above way of the best German scientific and
technical brains may well be the most valuable form of reparations
obtainable from Germany. Sir David Rivett, the Leader of the
Australian Delegation to the recent London Science Conference,
concurs in this view. Mr. J. R. Cochrane, the Leader of the
Australian Scientific and Technical Mission to Germany, also holds
the same view very strongly.
The following are some of the fields in which Australia can
benefit by utilising the services of German scientists and
(a) Brown coal utilisation and utilisation of other low-grade
coals such as Leigh Creek and Collie types.
(b) Synthetic liquid fuels.
(c) Metallurgy, both ferrous and non-ferrous, particularly in
respect of the production and utilisation of special steels and
hard metals such as tungsten carbide.
(d) Production of alumina from Australian low-grade ore.
6. A study has been made of the British system of selecting and
employing German personnel. Based on this study, a plan suitable
for Australia has been drawn up after consultation with the Public
Service Board, the Commissioner of Taxation, the Treasurer, the
Department of Munitions, the Attorney-General's Department, the
immigration Department, and the Council for Scientific and
Industrial Research. The plan proposed is attached as Appendix 'A'
and its main features are-
(a) Acceptance of the principle that only German personnel shall
be approved for employment who can contribute knowledge and skill
not possessed by an Australian citizen or a citizen of the United
Kingdom who is willing to come to Australia. In addition, selected
personnel to be certified as politically unobjectionable. During
stay in Australia, they will be subject to strict supervision from
the security point of view.
(b) Germans to be voluntarily recruited and to be employed by the
Commonwealth Government under contract. If a case is established
for the utilisation of their services by a State authority or a
private firm, they will be loaned by the Commonwealth Government
for that purpose and a contract will be made as between the
Commonwealth Government and the State authority or private firm.
With a view to giving firms equal opportunities, it is to be
understood that no one particular firm shall, of necessity, have
the sole use of the services of any one scientist. All
applications for use of a scientist would be reviewed and
considered strictly on their merits by the Committee proposed in
(c) German to be brought to Australia in the first instance on
probation for nine months at the cost of the Commonwealth
Government. At the end of nine months, if there is mutual
satisfaction and if the German desires to stay, the contract will
be renewed for a further period of six months. At the end of a
further six months, it may be renewed for a further period to be
mutually agreed upon.
(d) Payment of salaries to be in accordance with recognised Public
Service Board scales for scientific and technical officers and to
be subject to conditions in respect of hours of duty, holidays,
sick and recreation leave, as applied to employees generally on
the same class of work in the Public Service.
(e) To be subject to income tax and social services contributions
as residents in Australia from the date of arrival until date of
(f) To receive an advance of salary before departure for
Australia, cost of exchange to be borne by German. To be permitted
to make allotment of salary to family in Germany and again cost of
exchange to be borne by German.
(g) Establishment of a committee to consider and advise on
requests from Australian sources and suggestions from the
Australian Scientific and Technical Mission to Germany regarding
German personnel. This committee, in particular, will certify as
to the importance of the project, the technical excellence of the
German and the unavailability of Australian or British personnel.
(h) The Secondary Industries Division of the Department of Post
War Reconstruction to be the administrative and employing
authority in Australia and approaches made overseas to be through
the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission which will work in
close co-operation with the British Board of Trade.
7. The admission of any Germans under this proposal would be
subject to strict compliance with immigration and security
requirements, and the approval of the Minister for Immigration
would be sought for temporary admission under certificate of
exemption for a period of nine months in the first place in each
8. In the event of the United Kingdom Government liberalising
their present scheme and intensifying efforts to obtain German
personnel for the reasons given in the opening paragraphs of this
agendum, it is probable that an official request will be received
by the Australian Government from the United Kingdom Government to
co-operate. In that event, it may be necessary to modify some of
the proposals which are summarised in paragraph (6) above,
particularly in respect of requiring the German to meet cost of
exchange in any advance of salary or in any allotments which he
might make to his family in Germany. Other changing circumstances
may compel various modifications from time to time.
9. We recommend, for the approval of the Cabinet-
(a) That German scientists and technicians be brought to
Australia, under voluntary agreement on terms and conditions set
out in detail in the attached appendices and summarised in
paragraph (6) above.
(b) That the Minister for Post War Reconstruction be authorised
(in conjunction with the Treasurer where variations involve
additional expenditure) to agree to modifications of the terms and
conditions set out in paragraph 6 (a) to (h) where such are
considered to be necessary, except where a change of policy is
(c) That the Secondary Industries Division, Department of Post War
Reconstruction, be the administrative and employing authority in
the Commonwealth, on the understanding that this function would
pass to any appropriate new Department which may result from
certain contemplated amalgamations.
(d) That on the recommendation of the Employment of Scientific and
Technical Enemy Aliens (ESTEA) Committee, and subject to paragraph
7 above, the Minister for Post War Reconstruction be authorised to
approve the employment of German personnel and that the Director
of the Secondary Industries Division shall thereupon complete the
agreements required to give effect to any of the foregoing.
(e) That there be a review of the scheme half-yearly by the
Minister for Post War Reconstruction and the Minister for
JOHN J. DEDMAN
Minister for Post War Reconstruction
ARTHUR A. CALWELL
Minister for Immigration