Wednesday 7 September 2016

Burning the Kaiser

The artwork above was painted by Arthur Streeton on 12 November 1918, the day after the signing of the Armistice to end World War One. It's titled Australian burning effigy of Kaiser in Square, Armistice Day. It depicts a crowd of soldiers gathered around a bonfire with an effigy of the Kaiser hanging from the gallows. The scene summed up the country's feelings towards the enemy after such a long and bloody conflict.

The people of Campbelltown carried out the same 'ceremony' at the end of the war. A large crowd gathered at Mawson Park, still then known as "The Green". They constructed an effigy of the Kaiser made out of straw and other materials and placed it on a large bonfire. The burning accompanied marching and dancing. Crowds massed in Queen street, church bells rang out and many locals took the train into Sydney where they jammed into Martin Place to celebrate.

Unfortunately there are no known surviving copies of the local newspaper to provide a more detailed description of the day's celebration.

Written by Andrew Allen


Digitised Oral History of Eileen Duguid 1977, Held at Campbelltown City Library

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