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Lionel Sharpe on Anti-Semitism in 1930s

Lionel Sharpe.

Genealogist Lionel Sharpe describes Anti-Semitism in the 1930s



Date Added:

06 February 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

8.7 MB






... certainly not institutionalised anti-Semitism, sort of street anti-Semitism because Jews were a sort of an unknown entity but the paradox is, that Sir John Monash, who was the great leader in the – of the Australian troops and was absolutely adored by all the returned servicemen of the First World War, they knew he was Jewish, he didn’t hide his Jewishness, he was buried as a Jew, there was huge numbers came to his funeral and so –and then you had Sir Isaac Isaacs, both men about the same period and there were role models, that Jews in fact could make a great contribution to Australia, and Jews were very proud to hold up these figures as a: “See, this is what we’ve been able to offer Australia.”


So, in a sense, although there would have been sort of street anti-Semitism and some of the evidence that came out in 1940, surveys of Emory and Osa (sp?) in 1948, which show the Jews were way down on the list of preferred immigrants, showed that there was a residue of anti-Semitism despite Australia’s – Australian Jewish involvement in the Second World War and in the army etcetera, etcetera, Brigadier Harrison, I mean there was quite some significant figures.


So it was a mix, it was a mix: on the one hand people would mouth what they’d heard from their parents or grandparents about, “bloody Jews,” but on the other hand, part of them must have said, “But just a minute, there were some good ones among them.” Well the Melbourne Club, there was a golf club too that – the Jewish community set up its own golf club as a result of discrimination at the Melbourne Golf Club, I forget the exact name of it but – but the Australia – the other club which is in Collins Street, was very elitist and I understand that Sir John Monash never applied to join because he didn’t want to be humiliated in having his admission refused. Now I don’t know the truth of the story, but he was never a member of the Melbourne Club and nobody in fact invited him to be a member of the Melbourne Club, I mean they had a system of blackballing and it was very hard for Jews to get in there.


In fact, the first one I think that did get in was a stockbroker, forgotten his name, Herbert Bare (sp?) or one of those people, much later. But these were the sort of, the top of Collins Street people who were probably wouldn’t want – not only not have Jews in there but Chinese or any – they were xenophobic, full stop. And the other thing is, they didn’t know quite where to put Jews, they weren’t sure whether they were Asiatics or whether – where they fitted into the –a lot of the later documentation, that you would know is that – British Jews were different from the other Jews, you know, there was no recognition that British Jews emanated originally from Russia and Poland and places but no, we’ll accept, Guliff (sounds like 03:18) and these people and say, “No, we don’t mind the British Jews, it’s the others we don’t want to come in.”


End transcript