Herman Wollerman was born in New Zealand on 10 August 1888. His parents, originally from Germany, had become naturalised citizens of New Zealand two years earlier. At the outbreak of the First World War, Herman was already registered with the military and shipped out for service in German Samoa in 1914. Once there, he was given the role of censor because of his knowledge of the German language, something he had picked up as a young man on a trip back to his ancestral home.

His work in Samoa was fraught with difficulties and suspicions from the military establishment back in New Zealand. His military record tells of junior officers being promoted above him 'in view of his nationality' and  the Commanding Colonel of the Wellington Military District declaring that 2nd Lt Wollerman "is probably discharging his duty to the entire satisfaction of the Authorities... However as a matter of policy I will not recommend his promotion." The heart of this issue was Herman's father who was purported to have German sympathies. Wollerman senior had been a Palmerston North Borough Councillor and a local businessman of great repute who found himself barred from living on the coast for the duration of World War One because of allegations that he was signalling to enemy ships. According to his grandson, who donated these photographs to the My Family Story Project, his businesses in New Zealand were harmed by these allegations and there is evidence to suggest they held back his son's military career.

Herman Wollerman was eventually promoted to Lieutenant and continued as censor until 1919 when he came home with the rest of the troops stationed in Samoa. He then settled in Palmerston North. He died in 1966 and is buried at the Terrace End Cemetery.

Read Herman Wollerman's 172 page military record HERE. An article about this subject was published in the 2015 Manawatu Journal of History - it will be available to borrow from the Palmerston North City Library or for sale in all good booksellers.

Comment