Pallottine Staff (Other)

German Pallottine mission staff for whom it was not possible to conduct original research were Fr. Vill, Fr. Girke, Fr. Härle, Fr. Kieffer, Fr. Wehrmaker, Fr. Christoph, Brothers Hanke, Wendling, Ratajski, Boettcher, Müller, Ochsenknecht, Halder, Brossman, Kröhn, Schreiber, Donhauser, Brossmann, Besenfelder, Birker, Engel, Gunther, the lay helper Liedel, and Bishop Jobst.



Other Pallottine Staff


Br. Frank Hanke (1904-1957)

born near Meissen, accepted in Limburg in 1919, apprenticed in joinery, professed 1924, to Australia in 1934, crafted altars, communion rails and church furnishings and chapel for Aborginal Sisters at Beagle Bay. Diagnosed with Hansen's Disease 1948, hospitalised at Derby leprosarium, built its church with other patients, released in 1952.


Br. Joseph Wendling (1893-1961)

driver, in Australia May 1929 to November 1930, compiled a chronicle of the German Province.


Br. Paul Ratajski (1899-1981)

worked six years as a miner, accepted in Limburg 1921, arrived Australia with Br. Joseph Wendling in 1929, mechanic, farmer and carpenter at Tardun (ca 1929-32) Beagle Bay (1932-41), suffered blood poising from an animal bite, returned to Tardun (1941-44) then Wandering (1944). Diagnosed with Hansen's Disease January 1948 together with Br. Hanke, with whom he built the leprosarium church while a patient at the Derby leprosarium (1948-52), applied for citizenship in December 19481 and became cook at Beagle Bay until about 1969, then at Rossmoyne hostel. Had his leg amputated.


Br. Anton (Tony) Boettcher (?-1993)

arrived in Australia with Fr. Hügel, Fr. Worms, Br. Tautz and Br. Schüngel in November 1930 and worked mostly at Tardun. Along with Brother Halder, Ratajski and Contemprée he objected to his classification as enemy alien during World War II and requested reclassification as refugee, on the basis that he himself would be under threat in Germany. 2 Left the Pallottine Society in 1950, died at Bunbury in 1993.



Br. Paul Müller (1906-1967)

accepted at Limburg in 1925, arrived Australia in 1931 to work at Beagle Bay, Wandering, and at Tardun, returned to Germany 1958.


Br. Valentine Ochsenknecht (1904-1992)

orphaned at age 10 in East Prussia, resident in a church orphanage, apprenticed at Limburg 1917, arrived Australia 1932 with Br. Wollseifer, worked at Tardun 1932-1940, Kew 1940-1947, was under wartime surveillance, returned to Tardun 1947-1949, and then worked as cook and farmer at Wandering 1949-1961, later at Manly 1961-1965, and Rossmoyne.


Br. Basil Halder (1900-1965)

accepted into the Pallottine Society in 1928, arrived in Australia 1955 with Betz and others, performed farmwork at Tardun for thirty years despite deafness.


Fr. George Vill (1908-1958)

arrived in Australia to study theology at Werribee, was ordained in 1938, worked on various Kimberley missions, was recalled to Melbourne during World War II, thereafter appointed as rector of Tardun, erected its Aboriginal school, became novice master at Kew 1950, and rector at Strathfield 1955, died at Silverwater age 49.


Br. Leonhard Donhauser (1909-1985)

made his final profession in 1932, was called up for military service in 1940, returned from internment in 1947, arrived in Australia 3 October 1951 with Fr. Hügel (returning) and Brothers Brossman, Schreiber and Krön, became a farmworker at Tardun 1950-1960 and Wandering 1960-1976, then worked at Kew 1976-1982, and returned to Limburg.


Br. Josef Krön (1912-1993)

Silesian farmer, postulancy in 1929, professed in 1933, was called up for military service and wounded, was in Russian internment until 1947, arrived in Australia 3 October 1951 with Fr. Hügel (returning) and Brothers Brossman, Schreiber and Donhauser, was gardener at Beagle Bay until 1975, then Millgrove, later Kew, retired at Rossmoyne 1992.


Br. Robert Brossmann (?-1978)

arrived in Australia 3 October 1951 with Fr. Hügel (returning) and Brothers Donhauser, Schreiber and Krön, spent 15 years at Wandering as farm worker, returned to Germany after an operation.


Br. Wilhelm Schreiber (1913-2004)

born at Schönsee (Danzig), became a motor mechanic, postulant at Limburg in 1938, was called up for military service in 1941, was released from internment in June 1945, arrived Australia 3 October 1951, worked as mechanic at Beagle Bay, Lombadina, La Grange and Balgo and occassionally at Tardun, retired to Rossmoyne in 1994.


Br. Richard Besenfelder (1912-1998)

arrived with Nekes, Raible and others in 1935, worked at Beagle Bay and for two years as stockman at Rockhole, then as stockman at Beagle Bay 1938-1946, five years at Balgo, six years at Tardun, one year at Beagle Bay, finally at LaGrange 1963-1981, and retired at Rossmoyne.


Br. John Baptist Birker (1900-1974)

arrived from Germany with Fr. Johann Jobst and others, worked as stockworker at Tardun and Wandering from 1951 to 1962. 'Had a very European understanding of farming', expecting to live as a shepherd ‘who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night, or if an animal was alone in the paddock to put a mirror in the paddock so the animal does not feel so lonely’. 3 Transferred to Sydney March 1956.


Lorenz Liedel

missionary helper from Germany, arrived with Fr. Jobst and others in March 1951 and worked at Wandering Brook.


Fr. Francis Girke (1904-1959)

from Hesborn (Paderborn), studied at Schoenstatt, professed in 1927 and was ordained in 1932, taught at the Juniorate at Frankenstein (Silesia), then studied in England where he was interned during World War II and afterwards sent to Australia, became parish priest at Elsternwick (Melbourne), rector of Kew (1948-50). Visited Tardun in May 1949, visited a Tardun boy in hospital at Geraldton in September 1949, suffered a car breakdown near Carnarvon on the way to Tardun in August 1951. Became rector of Tardun (1951-56) where he was fare-welled with a concert on 16 May 1956 departing for Germany. Went to Strathfied in 1957 and died suddenly at Kew on 13 July 1959 at age 55.


Br. Wilhelm Engel (1916-1991)

one of many children of a stonemason in Schönholthausen, was accepted into the Pallottine Society in 1935, became a postulant at Schönstatt, was called up for military service during his novitiate in Limburg, returned from French internment in June 1947, arrived in Australia with the first post-war group in 1950, became stockworker at Beagle Bay 1950-1955, mechanic at Tardun 1955-1968, and returned to Germany, died in Limburg age 74.


Fr. Otto Härle (1925-1980)

one of twelve children, from Freudenstadt, wounded during war service, railway worker 1945-48, then studied and was ordained at Vallendar to become a missionary in India. Spent six years in Australia at Tardun, Strathfield and as novice master at Manly, then (presumably after naturalisation) became novice master at Raipur (1962-1971), worked at Bangalore and Nagpur and returned to Germany in 1980.


Fr. Heinrich Kieffer (1924-2006)

from Seelbach (Baden), joined Paulusheim in Bruchsal 1936, was called up for military service and interned, was ordained in 1952. Came to Australia around 1954-1958, arrived in Tardun from Perth December 1959 to replace Fr. Otto Härle, returned to Perth for Christmas holiday, returned to Tardun 26 January 1960, became naturalised, and went to India in 1963, Raipur, Chicalim, Assagao, Vijayanagar, returned to Germany 2002.


Fr. Edmund (Eddie) Wehrmaker (?-2006)

Arrived in Australia in 1959 with Fr. Rausch, Fr. Butscher and Fr. Lorenz, arrived at Tardun on 20 November 1960 and was Rector until September 1978, oversaw a period of secularisation of the mission, went to Millgrove April 1986.


Fr. Gerhard (later Gerard) Otto Christoph (1931-2008)

postwar refugee in Germany from Breslau (southern Poland), was ordained in 1959, arrived in Australia at Millgrove in 1961, was naturalised in 1969, visited Germany then went to Tardun in 1970 and later became Rector, disbanded the dormitories in favour of cottages and erected Wandalgu Arts.


Br. Ludwig Gunther

arrived from Germany mid-1963, and was the last German to come to Tardun mission. Visited Perth September 1963.


Source: Pallottine Necrology, Manuscript of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Australia) Archives, Rossmoyne




1 'Advertising', The Daily News (Perth) 11 December 1948: 20. Web. 30 Sep 2013

2 Redmond Prendiville, Archbishop of Perth to Colonel H.D. Moseley, Deputy Director of Security, Perth (n.d.) Internments AA.

3 Wim van Veen (SAC) (ed) The Tardun Chronicle 1926-1964. The Pallottines at Tardun W. A. Spectrum Publication 1998: 1954.