Dunera Lives: A Visual History

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Dunera Lives

A Visual History

By Ken Inglis, Seumas Spark and Jay Winter with Carol Bunyan
Published by Monash University Publishing
RRP $39.95 in paperback • ISBN 9781925495492 

In July 1940, around 2000 refugees, most but not all of whom were German or Austrian Jews, were sent from Britain to Australia on the HMT Dunera

The ‘Dunera’ men were among those who had been detained in Britain following Churchill’s ‘collar the lot’ instruction to round up all enemy aliens, a policy that he later regretted.

The plans were to disperse these internees among Britain’s dominions. The story of the ‘Dunera boys’, as they became known, although the men were hardly boys, is an intrinsic part of the history of Australia in the Second World War and in its aftermath.

The cruel treatment meted out to these men en route and the injustice these men suffered in internment camps at Hay, Tatura and Orange is well known.

Less familiar is the tale of what happened to them afterwards.

This book tells that story, primarily through images – photographs, paintings, cartoons and ephemera.

The stories reveal tales of struggle and despair but also of lives well-lived as these men made their contribution to the post-war societies in which they finally settled.

With my interest in track and field, one name stood out for me: Franz Stampfl, who is perhaps best remembered as the coach of Roger Bannister, the first man to run the four minute mile. After returning to Britain, Stampfl eventually returned to Australia to live. He maintained his life long interest in athletics.

This is just one of the stories of the ‘Dunera men’ among the many in this book.

To me, the book was an eye-opener, as I am sure it will be to many readers. It is a timely reminder of what happens when xenophobia grips a nation.

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