Carl Georg Christoph von Brandenstein

Carl Georg Christoph von Brandenstein
Loveday, South Australia. 16 March 1943. Group of German internees at Loveday. Back row, left row right: Butscher; R36615 Paul von Kurtz; R36660 Heinrich Naumann; R36725 Hermann Sucker; R36607 Ernst Krueger; R36829 Georg Wiedemann; R36699 Rudolf Priester. Front row: R36816 Walter Weberbauer; R36732 Ernst Schaefer; R36413 Carl von Brandenstein; R36517 Albert Hauessler; R36470 Werner Fritze; E. W. Neumann. Note: The number is an assigned POW number. Prefix R indicates apprehended by the British Forces in Iran. AWM 030191/14.

Carl Georg Christoph von Brandenstein was born in Hanover in 1909. After finishing high school in Weimar, he studied oriental languages and the history of religion at Berlin University from 1928 to 1934. For several years he then worked in museums in Berlin before going to Leipzig to write his dissertation on the iconography of Hittite gods. He did war service in France and Russia then joined the Canaris counter-intelligence network in 1941. An Australian file on him reported that he was a ‘very active Nazi and agent of the Secret Service at Tabritz’. In a communication to his wife in Berlin in early August 1944 he wrote, ‘We have seen with joy that a serious personal disaster to the Homeland has been averted. I watch from here the firm, clear development of affairs, and confidently hope for an outcome with honours through the proved mastery of arms and statesmanship.’[1] The reference to the averted disaster is very likely a reference to Hitler surviving the Stauffenberg bomb plot a couple of weeks earlier.

Brandenstein was captured in Iran in September 1941 by British forces. As in other cases of Germans captured in Iran, his wife and daughter were repatriated to Germany, while Carl was sent to Australia to be interned in Loveday (from November 1941 to January 1945) and, in the last year of the war, in Tatura. In Loveday he seems to have developed a keen interest in painting while also following events in his homeland. At one point he was heard to say He was released to Melbourne in August 1946.

After release in August 1946 he was given the option of remaining in Australia, where he devoted himself to the study of Indigenous languages and culture. In 1964 he received funding from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (now AIATSIS) to undertake fieldwork in Western Australia. Over some thirty years he recorded languages in the Pilbara as well as information about the Ngadjumaya from the south-east of Western Australia and the Noongar in the south-west.  Though he found little evidence to support his view, he asserted that the Portuguese had established settlements in north-western Australia. He died in 2005.



Nick Thieberger, ‘Carl Georg von Brandenstein 10 October 1909 – 8 January 2005)’, Australian Aboriginal Studies 1 (2005), 125-27.

NAA: MP1103/1, R36413 Prisoner of War/Internee: Brandenstein, Dr Karl Georg; Date of birth - 10 October 1909; Nationality – German

NAA: MP1103/2 R36413 Prisoner of War/Internee; Brandenstein, Karl Georg; Year of birth - --09; Nationality - German

NAA: A1838 1451/2/4/7 Internees - Repatriation to Germany - Von Brandenstein C G Dr

NAA: A367 C74240 Brandenstein Karl Georg


[1] NAA: A367 C74240 Brandenstein Karl Georg. Letter to E. von Brandenstein 2/8/44.