Black and white studio portrait mounted on cardboard, depicting Leo Stern as a young man dressed in Austrian military uniform circa 1917.

This photograph relates to the lives of Leo and Hilda Sterne prior to their migration to Australia from Linz, Austria in 1939, joining other family members who had arrived in 1938. The Sternes (originally Sternschein), listed as 'stateless', were probably refugees accepted as part of the Australian Government's Jewish quota intake just prior to World War II. The Sterne's went on to found the successful L.J. Sterne Doll Company. Leo Sterne is recorded as having enlisted in the Citizen's Military Forces during World War II and in 1944 he was naturalised.

Description of Content

Leo Sterne as a young man during the First World War. He is dressed in the Austrian military uniform. The rank patch on his collar identifies him as a Corporal. There are three medals on the breast of his coat - from left to right: possibly two Austrian Bravery Medals, and a Karl Troop Cross. The Bravery Medals were awarded throughout the First World War, until October 1918 and the Karl Troop Cross was awarded between December 1916 and November 1918. This medal would indicate that he was in a combatant unit for a minimum of twelve weeks, and had served at the front.

Physical Description

Black and white studio portrait on cardboard backing.


This item is part of a growing collection of material relating to the migration and settlement experiences of Leo and Hilda Sterne who arrived in Melbourne in 1939. They immediately established a business that became one of the most successful doll and toy manufacturers in post-war Melbourne.
The L.J. Sterne Doll Company (1939-71) is significant as one of the few surviving collections related to an Australian toy and doll manufacturer, a once thriving industry in Australia. Only the A.L. Lindsay and Co. Archive at the Powerhouse Museum and the Jakas Toy collection at Melbourne Victoria are comparable.
This collection of photographs, business and promotional documents, dolls, and toys enables the exploration of many Australian post-war historical and social themes including: local television and manufacturing industries; design and production innovation; marketing and merchandising; childhood; gender and cultural representations; leisure and sport; key cultural and historical events.

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