Report of the Victoria University College Council, Concerning the Case of Professor von Zedlitz
 Correspondence between the Minister of Internal Affairs and Professor von Zedlitz
 Correspondence between the Minister of Internal Affairs and Professor von Zedlitz.
8th January, 1915 -
I enclose for your record, and for the information ot members of the Victoria College Council (if you think fit), but not for publication beyond the Council, a copy of correspondence between Professor von Zedlitz and myself.
The effect of the correspondence may be of use in allaying any feeling of doubt which might otherwise exist whether the position of Professor von Zedlitz as a resident in the country has been considered and defined by the Government.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
(Sgd) H. D. Bell,
Minister of Internal Affairs.
H. Ostler, Esq.,
Chairman Victoria College Council, Wellington.
Note.—The following letter was sent by the Minister in May:—
The Chairman, Victoria College Council.
You are at liberty to make any use, public or private, of the correspondence between myself and Professor von Zedlitz of which I sent a copy to Mr. Ostler.
I have the honour to be, your obedient servant,
(Sgd.) H. D. Bell.
2nd December, 1914.
You will understand that in the stress of war it is natural that questions should be raised concerning those members of the enemy nations who are living in this country, and you are page break probably aware that your own status has been one of such subjects of public and private discussion.
With the concurrence of Mr. Allen, who is Minister both of Defence and Education. I write this. I am aware that you are of German birth and race, and that you have retained your national character and sympathies, which are at this present time as widely different as possible from the sympathies and aspirations of England and of New Zealand. But in our view, and I hope in yours, you are a guest of this country, and indirectly in its service, and therefore not free, directly or indirectly, to give information or assistance of any kind to our enemies. It is just possible that that may not be your view—that you may hold your patriotism to define your duty, in which case the whole matter must be reconsidered. For that reason I invite you to satisfy the Government, by your written assurance, that you will hold no communication, direct or indirect, with any of your nation, or of any enemy nation, whether within or beyond New Zealand, except with the express consent in writing in each case of the Government of New Zealand; and that, under no circumstances, will you give, or be a party to giving, information of any nature whatever to the enemy.
I should be glad also if you would give the like assurance with respect to the past, as I propose to you with respect to the future—this not for my personal satisfaction, for my knowledge of your sense of honour and duty is sufficient, but I desire to be able to refer to your own word of honour as well as to my confident belief.
This is only semi-official, though you are free to use it as you please. I shall be disappointed if you resent my earnest effort to clear the atmosphere.
(Sgd.) H. D. Bell.Professor von Zedlitz, Wellington.
3rd December, 1914.
Dear Mr. Bell,—
I have to thank you for your very kindly worded letter of yesterday’s date.
When war was declared, I conceived it my duty to go to Germany and volunteer for some non-combatant work. The page break German Consul here showed me the material impossibility of doing that. Besides, I have long ceased to be a German subject, and the German authorities would probably have refused me admittance as an alien enemy.
An elementary sense of decency should prevent me from abusing the generous protection and hospitality of this, country. All my colleagues, the Chairman and other members of the College Council, and many others have gone out of their way to show me kindness and sympathy. I give you the assurance you require willingly, both as to the future and the past, and I enclose a statement couched in the words of your letter to me. I presume it is not intended to include speaking to students who are German about their work, or to my children’s nursery governess, who is a German.
As regards the position, which I owe entirely to you, the governorship of the Institute terminates in a year’s time anyhow, so that I thought it would be unnecessary and indiscreet to resign now. The translation of foreign correspondence your Department can terminate without formality when it wants to do so.
Finally, though I am grateful to you for your letter and for many other things, please understand that I do not welcome anything in the nature of preferential treatment. I have done nothing which is in any way objectionable, from the point of view of a patriotic Briton. But I would prefer confinement on Soames' Island or elsewhere to being treated differently to other New Zealanders of German origin.
(Sgd.) G. W. von Zedlitz.Hon. H. D. Bell, K.C., Wellington.
N.Z., 3rd December, 1914.
I will hold no communication, direct or indirect, with any one of my nation or of any enemy nation, whether within or beyond New Zealand, except with the express consent in writing in each case of the Government of New Zealand, and under no circumstances will I give or be a party to giving information of any nature whatever to the enemy.
(Sgd.) G. W. von Zedlitz.
7th December, 1914.
Your letter of the 3rd instant conveys in entirely satisfactory terms the assurance which I asked for in mine of the 2nd instant.
In the last paragraph of your letter you fail to recognise that there are in all cases, and among all nations, firstly, some whose word is their bond ; secondly, some whose mere word cannot be relied on ; and, thirdly, some entirely worthy of all credit who ought not to have, and from their employment would not desire to have, the offer of parole.
You seem to claim that all New Zealanders of German origin should be treated as if no such distinction existed, and I, therefore, to avoid any possibility of question, must inform you that it is not the intention of the Government to recognise the validity of such a claim.
Yours very truly,
(Sgd.) H. D. Bell.Professor von Zedlitz, Lower Hutt.