Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Foreign Minister Steinmeier

Last week was a very big one for Australia and for the Embassy

As you’ll recall, Prime Minister Abbott and Chancellor Merkel announced earlier in the month the details of the Advisory Group they’d decided to establish to recommend to them ways of strengthening our bilateral relationship into the future. Following that announcement, both the German and Australian sides of the Advisory group held their first meetings on 20 and 22 April respectively to begin consideration of this very significant task. The two Co-Chairs, Staatsministerin Maria Böhmer from the Foreign Office and the Australian Finance Minister, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, led the discussion at both events and have been in touch to compare notes since. As earlier also announced, we expect the first joint meeting of the Advisory Group to take place in July in Berlin. I can’t wait: these are very exciting times for Australian-German relations!

And two very senior Australian Ministers visited Germany last week too. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was in Berlin on 21-22 April and held discussions with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Steinmeier, with Professor Böhmer and with Interior Ministry State Secretary Emily Haber. It was Ms Bishop’s first visit to Berlin as Foreign Minister. Then, shortly after she left, the Australian Defence Minister, the Hon Kevin Andrews, arrived for discussions on 22 April with German Defence Minister von der Leyen. His visit, the first by an Australian Defence Minister for some time, and the visit by Foreign Minister Bishop covered a range of issues which showed just how close our views are in the foreign policy, strategic and defence areas and how much we have to offer each other as partners. Defence Minister Andrews also visited Kiel on 23 April during his time in Germany.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Foreign Minister Steinmeier at the joint press conference. They are standing in front of the Australian, European and German flag.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Foreign Minister Steinmeier at a joint press conference in Berlin

German Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen and Australian Defence Minister Andrews passing by the guard battalion at the Ministry of Defence

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Australian Defence Minister Andrews

The week culminated in a massively important event for Australia, the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the landing of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli in Turkey on 25 April 1915. We chose to hold the service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s First World War cemetery at Stahnsdorf near Berlin, where 20 young Australians and three young New Zealanders are buried. These include three original ANZACs, Albert Elliott, Benjamin Gannaway and Otto Siefken. So it was a very significant way of paying our personal respects to each of them and to their friends and colleagues buried at Stahnsdorf. There are, we think, 21 Australian ANZACs buried in Germany and I’ll publish the list of these and where their graves are located shortly. Please do remember them in this very special year, as did the over 200 people who attended the Stahnsdorf service. Lest we forget.

(See names of Gallipoli Veterans buried in Germany below)

Ambassador Ritchie giving a speech at theCommonwealth War Graves Commission’s First World War cemetery at Stahnsdorf. The Ambassador stands while guests are seated in fron of him an listining to him speaking.

At the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s First World War cemetery in Stahnsdorf

A picture of many wreath laying at a memorial at the cemetry.

Wreath ceremony

Finally, I wanted to mention the concert played in Berlin on the night of ANZAC Day by the World Doctors Orchestra, which I also attended. An excellent Australian company, Sonic Healthcare, very active in Germany, sponsored the orchestra, meaning that the proceeds of the concert could go to needy people in Africa. Just another way in which Australians are playing their part in helping others in the world less well off than we are. A wonderful initiative and, in addition to being terrific doctors, the members of the orchestra proved to an almost sell-out crowd in Berlin that they are also superb musicians.

GALLIPOLI VETERANS BURIED IN GERMANY

Albert ELLIOTT 1131 – BERLIN SOUTH-WESTERN CEMETERY
Benjamin Joseph GANNAWAY 903 – BERLIN SOUTH-WESTERN CEMETERY
Otto John SIEFKEN 354 – BERLIN SOUTH-WESTERN CEMETERY
Algar Hampton ALTHORP 1301 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
John Hosking ARGALL 1719 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
Reginald Henry DABB 393 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
Thomas HENSON 3172 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
John James HINDLEY 2747 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
James Clarence O’NEILL 140 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
Edwin Albert PEDGRIFT 1727 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
Thomas James HANN 1951 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
Terence SWEENEY 1615 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
Daniel Thomas TUDOR 1365 – COLOGNE SOUTHERN CEMETERY
Andrew Carnegie Booth FAIRWEATHER  1291 – HAMBURG CEMETERY (Hauptfriedhof Ohlsdorf)
Ernest Septimus HURMAN 3351 – HAMBURG CEMETERY (Hauptfriedhof Ohlsdorf)
Alexander George McARTHUR 1984 – HAMBURG CEMETERY (Hauptfriedhof Ohlsdorf)
William Henry HURRELL 1961* – NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERY, KASSEL
Henry Hans PETERSEN 142 – NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERY, KASSEL – Is showing on the CWGC site as coming from the United Kingdom.
Frederick William Adolphus RAMSEYER 486 – NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERY, KASSEL
William John SMITH 233 – NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERY, KASSEL
Arthur Herbert KENNEDY (officer; no service no.) – NIEDERZWEHREN CEMETERY, KASSEL