In 1917, German submarines began to attack American cargo and passenger ships, drawing the United States into the war. Meanwhile a revolution in Russia changed the government which made a treaty with Germany. Germany’s allies Austria and Turkey, weary of the war, gave up. Without support an overwhelmed Germany had to accept defeat. In November 1918 the guns were silenced and an armistice signed. The internees expected to be on their way home within weeks.
The war did not formally end until Germany signed the peace treaty in June 1919. This led to 10 months of waiting, creating depression among all. This mood was exacerbated when the oppressive peace terms demanded by the Allies were fully realised. When news reached Berrima of the vandalisation of the Trial Bay Memorial to four companions who had died there, the internees vowed to burn their huts and sink their canoes rather than leave them as a memorial.
On 12 August 1919 the internees assembled to depart. The Berrima Guard took the head and rear of the column and the band struck up Muss i’ denn, muss i’ denn aus Städlein (Now, now must I from this little town). At the Surveyor General Hotel the procession stopped and the men gave three cheers then marched to Moss Vale railway station. Many of the villagers had mixed feelings as the internees not only brought an alternative culture but prosperity to the village.
The train took the internees directly to Pyrmont wharf in Sydney. There the SS Ypiranga, a former Hamburg American Line steamer seized by the Allies, was berthed. It would take 950 internees from Berrima and Holsworthy and 200 men, women and children deported from other parts of Australia, to Germany.
Trial Bay Camp closed in July 1918 and the internees transferred to Holsworthy Internment Camp for repatriation. Holsworthy Camp remained open until the last internees were deported to Germany in 1920. The total number of people deported was 6,150. Of these, 5,414 people had been interned, the rest were family members or those ordered by the Defence Department to leave the country. Over 1,000 people appealed to the Commonwealth Alien Board against deportation. Only 306 were successful. They included 179 naturalised or native born Australians. The 306 were the only people allowed to stay from the 5,600 internees still at Holsworthy at the end of the war.