Out of ‘Common Humanity’: humanitarianism, compassion and efforts in Australia to assist Jewish refugees in the 1930s

Seminar/Forum

Out of ‘Common Humanity’: humanitarianism, compassion and efforts in Australia to assist Jewish refugees in the 1930s

States of the Nation seminar series

Interdisciplinary discussions on research important to contemporary Australia, and Australia’s relations to the region and the world.

In June 1935, Edith Roll, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl from Vienna, wrote to her Australian pen-pal Jean Doig, aged 10 from Colac, Victoria.  The correspondence was short-lived as Edith and her family were swept up in the violence of the Holocaust. Though Jean’s parents, Keith and Louise Doig, helped the Roll family apply to migrate to Australia, these efforts tragically failed.    Why should the attempt of one family in an Australian country town to assist another in Europe be considered of broader relevance to the monumental events of the mid-twentieth century? Unsuccessful efforts to evacuate refugees are cursorily dismissed.

A different focus, however, would direct our attention to the motivations of people to act who were not otherwise politically engaged. From this perspective, the Doig family efforts are part of the complex story of Australian migration history. If we choose not to tell these stories, we cannot fully chart how a history of compassion, and more broadly humanitarianism, can be written.

All welcome, lunch provided, no bookings required.

Presented by the Australian Centre

Presenter

  • Professor Joy Damousi
    Professor Joy Damousi, Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellow