Summary

Memorandum entitled 'Dunera Statement', submitted to the High commissioner of the United Kingdom in Australia by the Hay internees. The document gives an account of the treatment endured by the internees prior to, and on board the Dunera on the way to Australia. It states their status as Jewish refugees from Nazi oppression, and describes in detail the misinformation given prior to leaving England, the loss of their possessions, cramped and unhygienic conditions on the ship, unwarranted searches and general mistreatment. The document also includes three personal statements by unnamed internees.

William (Bill) David Herr was one of the Dunera boys. Born in 1914 in Vienna, he escaped to England in 1938, fleeing Nazi persecution, where he lived for less than 12 months before being arrested as a German alien and classified by the Aliens Tribunal as a 'Refugee from Nazi Oppression.' He was interned and then transported to Australia on the ship Dunera, arriving in Australia on 26 August 1940. Upon arrival, Bill was taken to Hay internment camp where he spent nine months, before he was transferred to Tatura for another nine months. Upon release from Tatura Bill and his other internees worked fruit picking in the local area before enlisting in the Australian forces to serve their newly adopted country in the latter part of the war.

Description of Content

Memorandum entitled 'Dunera Statement', submitted to the High commissioner of the United Kingdom in Australia by the Hay internees. The document gives an account of the treatment endured by the internees prior to, and on board the Dunera on the way to Australia. It states their status as Jewish refugees from Nazi oppression, and describes in detail the misinformation given prior to leaving England, the loss of their possessions, cramped and unhygienic conditions on the ship, unwarranted searches and general mistreatment. The document also includes three personal statements by particular (in this document unnamed internees).

Physical Description

Seven page, double sided, foolscap size typed document, stapled at top left corner (with last page having separated). The front cover has a hand drawn, printed image of a porthole open and looking into a view of an internment camp. It is entitled 'Dunera Statement'.

Significance

Significance:
This material documents a significant part of migration and wartime history in Australia - the transportation of Jewish refugees on the 'Dunera,' and alien internment. The dramatic story of the Dunera boys is particularly evocative and well-known, and the internment of many at Tatura in Victoria as well as Hay in New South Wales improves our representation of this Victorian internment camp. The Memorandum in particular provides a fascinating and important testimony of the harsh treatment endured by the internees prior to and during their voyage to Australia.

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