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Lionel Sharpe description on Jewish community

Lionel Sharpe.

Lionel Sharpe describes the Jewish community in Melbourne as the truth of the Holocaust became more evident in the post-war period



Date Added:

16 February 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

9 MB






1946, tremendous fundraising for relief in Europe, the United Jewish Oversees Relief Fund was set up mostly by Polish Jews, Leo Fink and people like that. And there was – they were wanting to send money to the – to assist people who were in DP camps, they wanted to try and see how they could sponsor them to Australia and things were more or less froze during 1945, ’46, it wasn’t until the end of ’46 when the refugees in Shanghai – there was pressure for something like, I think 18,000 of them there, to – that Australia should take a portion and the Jewish leadership did – negotiated and I think brought about 2˝ thousand to – I don’t know the exact figure but it was round about that – to Australia.


So that was the beginnings of the immigration, then the Johan de Witt, which its 6 - 700 Jews on board, the outcry in the press that the Jews are invading Australia led by Arthur Calwell who was sort of leading the Jews to the promised land, there were cartoons at the time about this and the Jewish communities were I must say, very much rallying particularly the Carlton, the people who lived in – the Polish – original Polish and immigrants who had settled when Carlton – they were very anxious to contact and locate relatives who had survived and sponsor them to Australia. And that then led to a whole series of – of attempts to permits and quotas on 25% quotas on ships...


... very proud of being Jewish and rather ashamed of being Australian I would say. When I saw – when I read in the paper and I still remember – politicians, such as Gullet, who was a well-known leader wrote an article I think in The Argus and caused a big uproar and made statements in parliament and etcetera and I experienced you know, personally even among people at the university, I remember a – somebody who I was – I was studying psychology when I first went to university – and one of these students who was an ex-serviceman who had come back from the war, who was – had a grant to study, he was started telling me how the Jews can go to the synagogue and get money and loans and gold and all this sort of thing and I was absolutely staggered.


And I knew my father was struggling with the budget of the big – the synagogue on St Kilda Road and I invited him to come along and examine the – to see where all the gold –because I said, “I wouldn’t mind some, if it’s all there.” But there was an – this undercurrent and – which made us very – which strengthened our sense of Jewish identity, because we thought, we’ve got to be a bit careful who we talk to and what they think.


So, my university days were very much clouded by an “us and them,” you know, we’ve got to look after ourselves and we’ve got to be a bit cautious about the outside world.


End transcript