Arnold Wienholt, man and myth: A biography

Siemon, Rosamond (1994). Arnold Wienholt, man and myth: A biography PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Siemon, Rosamond
Thesis Title Arnold Wienholt, man and myth: A biography
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1994
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 319
Language eng
Subjects 16 Studies in Human Society
Formatted abstract
Until the day he died Arnold Wienholt was a son of Empire. This thesis takes a chronological look at the several phases of his courageous and lonely life as he strove to achieve his ambition of fame.

      Looks at the Victorian Imperialist background that shaped him; the wealthy pioneering family from which he sprang, especially his eccentric father's pastoral practices, and examines life at Eton which educated him and influenced his life, and how his classical education instilled a fascination with the drama of history and its heroes. This chapter takes a general look at the emotionally deprived but morally upright young man who had a driving ambition and enduring sense of duty. It notes the public perception of him and begins to examine the myth which surrounds his and his family's life.

      Deals with his late teenage years and training on Jondaryan station, and the developing individualism which resisted the comfortable and social life of a wealthy family. It shows how he demonstrates his values, his need to be seen as important and worthy while allowing to go uncorrected the first of some untrue anecdotes of his personal myth. It examines his conscientious management of Widgee Widgee, his method of distancing himself from his father's reputation, and his introduction of British traditions of sport and fair play to his employees. It considers the reasons for his publishing the technique of Tick Prevention without reference to the scientists whose methods he used, and shows his emergence as an efficient cattle man. The chapter looks at his flamboyant attention-getting behaviour and his ability to achieve publicity while convincing the press and others of his reticence and modesty. It also takes a closer look at his developing character and eccentricities, the persona he was striving for, and his efforts to fit in with society when he contemplated entering politics.

      From this time he tells most of his own story. The modern thinking public-spirited man and his unorthodox electioneering are shown against the political climate of the time. His belief that politics was his life's goal; his early willingness to work in a political team, and his personal Imperialist leadership style are clear, as was his satisfaction at being a man of consequence. This chapter moves to the Federal political developments in 1913 and Philp's and Wienholt's role in the latter's selection to stand against the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher for the seat of Wide Bay. It illustrates Wienholt's astute shift in campaign style to a broader Imperialist thinking and the fact that he readily understood the game of politics and was ready to play it.

      Shows his positive reaction to uncontemplated failure and determination not to give in. His hoped-for re-entry to politics envisioned marriage, so his attitude to this and to his diversion of hunting is examined. It deals with proving his manhood to himself and shows his courage, determination and resourcefulness in the face of a disastrous encounter with a lion; the basic qualities which endure. With the coming of war they are traced as they underpin his duty, ambition, and determined fight against officialdom. This chapter shows his developed ego as he tried to convince various authorities of his ability as a leader and military strategist. The first of his obsessions is revealed in his dislike and public condemnation of general Smuts and the pattern is set for his self-dramatising way of life and its implied need for public approval.

      Deals with war, his ability to influence his combat role, and wholehearted enjoyment and participation with total disregard of personal danger. It examines the contribution of other white men in the daring escapades and ets this against his lock-in personality and, later, dismissal of their participation. This chapter looks at his initiative and, in the last stages of the war, his ruthless pursuit of further glory with some disregard for the well-being of his junior officer and men. It demonstrates why he deserved the accolade of hero and how he maintained maximum publicity and consolidated the Wienholt myth. Something of his relentless drive is also revealed in the constant condemnation of Smuts and his belief in his own ability.

      Reveals the mature, eccentric man in his private and public life, his undimmed ambition, and his marriage. It surveys the 1919 Federal political scene and shows how the Member for Moreton was able to play an ndependent brand of confrontation politics and seek maximum public justification for his actions. His patriotism, idealism, and determination to maintain Empire links and values were the basis of his politics until a new obsession - the Government's fiscal policy entered the rigidity of his thought. It looks at his rebellion against the authority of party politics and his determination to be odd-man out. He believed that his actions were for the good of the community and this chapter shows how his well-publicised, high-principled persona reinforced his image with his rural constituents but his inability to work with a team alienated the press and his political party. In charting his political progress from high hopes to disillusionment it deals specifically with the paradox of the patriot Wienholt championing the deported internee, Dr Eugen Hirschfeld and the inconsistencies in his well-published argument.

      Examines his hunger for adventure and aggression and the British Imperialist hunting philosophy. It shows the man in his preferred environment and his courage in moments of great danger. It attempts to understand his friendship with the hunter, Ben Johnson, and covers his efforts to be a worthwhile person in the best British colonial tradition. This chapter demonstrates the man's ego and search for success as a hunter, author, or politician. To this end, in hunting, he pursued the dangerous death and great deeds, and in politics was outspoken until, in both arenas, he had to reconcile himself to the strain, and retreat. It examines the man and his eccentricities in his rural home setting: as property owner, employer, neighbour and parent, and his business and personal relationship with his
cousin in North Queensland.

      Looks closer at his 1928 urge to political duty and the public rejection of his pronouncements, and the 1930's realisation that if he was to achieve anything it would have to be in politics. It deals with the enigma of his nomination for the Fassifern seat, his vision of political reform, and involvement in forming the Queensland Party. Set in the depression years it tracks his mounting obsession with public thrift and Government loans, and shows how his actions were governed by his need to be noticed and the conflicts of the inner man. In making the House his theatre and consistently presenting his Alan Quatermain persona he continued to impress his rural constituents but failed to achieve any political goals, and again alienated the media and his parliamentary colleagues.

      Reveals the resilience of the fifty-eight year old man in moving immediately to enhance his pastoral role, then to the more exciting adventure tn Ethiopia that offered possibilities of military fame. It deals with the background to the Italo-Ethiopian war and his later realisation that the British Empire could be a casualty. It reveals his hubris in expectations and actions and his lack of balance and flawed judgement in ideas and published opinion. It traces how the obsession drove the man, and his restless efforts to continue a normal life on his properties while he aggressively campaigned to make Britain act to protect her interests. Finally, Whitehall failed to act on his ideas and role of the hero was offered elsewhere.

      Reinforces his real aim in freeing Ethiopia. It traces his activities and frustrations in Aden as he tried to find himself a key military role in Ethiopia, and the triumph of his Imperialist culture as he put duty before ambition in accepting the offered subordinate role with Mission 101. The background to the military strengths of Italy and Britain highlight the enormous task to be undertaken. Note is taken of Wienholt's personality difficulties in relation to his leader and some of the team. As far as possible the chapter traces his determined, independent approach to his Mission patrol and some of the elements of his disappearance. Finally it looks at the sworn depositions concerning his death and queries the apparent senselessness of it.
Keyword Wienholt, Arnold, 1877-1940
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