Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930 - Page 91

soldiers. Both were badly injured. Portmann later died in hospital. Radatz survived
and gave evidence at the inquest into his fellow gang member’s death where he
claimed that he only took money from internees to help them acquire black market
goods such as tobacco. Despite insisting that his motives were benevolent, others
thought him ‘a very dangerous man’. Portmann’s killers were never identified.
On 20 July 1916, with the assistance of corrupt guards, Radatz and five other
internees escaped Holdsworthy Internment Camp through a tunnel. Five were
re-captured, but Radatz remained at large for three months. It was later revealed
that he was protected by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)—a militant,
anti-war trade union. In an attempt to de-identify him, IWW forced chemist Henry
Scully at gunpoint to paint an acidic solution onto Radatz’s forearm to remove his
distinguishing tattoo. Radatz was then escorted by a leading member of IWW, Tom
Barker, to Broken Hill, where the two shared a room in the Imperial Hotel. Radatz
was given work in the mines. But he was apprehended by authorities in Broken Hill
Hospital on 24 October 1916 while suffering from ‘a severe bout of rheumatism’ and
sent back to Holdsworthy.
Radatz was tried at Holdsworthy Military Court on 15 March 1917 and imprisoned
in the State Penitentiary. He was then transferred to Goulburn Gaol where he and
several other escapees were released by special remission back into military
custody on 29 June 1917. Like most internees, Radatz remained incarcerated beyond
the end of the War until he was deported via the SS Willochra — along with at least
seven fellow alleged Black Hand members — back to Germany.


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