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Erwin Fabian died in Melbourne on 19 January 2020, aged 104. Erwin, one of Australia's pre-eminent artists, came to Australia on the Dunera, though he rarely said so. The Dunera boy label was not for him.
Of the many artists the Dunera bore across the ocean to Australia, none are more well-known for both biting political commentary and atmospheric scenes than Friedrich (Fritz) Schonbach.
Aboard the first Kindertransport to depart Germany for Britain, Peter Danby (formerly Danziger) could not have known the unlikely journey ahead.
'Am I a writer because this is the sort of thing spilling from the family closet? Or just ‘fortunate’ to be the recipient of others’ painful history?' asks Belinda Castles in an article in the Southerly Journal.
Hans Lorraine was not an internment artist. He started painting in the 1950s, creating a visual chronicle of peacetime Australian life. But he was a Dunera artist.
Before he was a world famous fashion photographer, Helmut Newton was interned at Tatura as a German-Jewish refugee.
We knew we had our work cut out when we started our search for Emil Wittenberg, one of the most prolific of Dunera artists.
In May, 2019, two of our team travelled to Canberra to interview Bern Brent – in his words, ‘one of the last Dunera boys still vertical’.
Klaus Friedeberger (1922-2019) was among the most talented, dynamic and thoughtful of Dunera artists. He was unusual among Dunera artists, and European artists generally, in seeing the mysteries and beauty of the Australian landscape.
In the years before and during the Second World War, Jewish and anti-Fascist doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists left Nazi-occupied Europe for Australia.
‘I didn’t really know that many of the people that I had met or had connections with were Dunera boys’, Phillip begins. ‘It only really emerged later.’
‘At the time of his death, he was perhaps my closest friend,’ recalls Justin Zobel, sitting at the circular table in his brightly lit office at the University of Melbourne. It's an unexpected way to speak of one's stepfather.
While some of the men who came to Australia on the Dunera chose later to speak about their experiences both before the war and on the ship itself – whether to the press, public, or simply to families and friends – there were many who remained silent.
Georg Chodziesner's record of the voyage of the Dunera, told coolly and dispassionately, is probably the most important and comprehensive account available to historians.
A Visual History
by Ken Inglis, Seumas Spark and Jay Winter with Carol Bunyan
The Monash University Publishing book that inspired this website.
This book tells that story primarily through images. The images, beautiful and powerful, reveal tales of struggle, sadness, transcendence, and creativity, and describe the lives of these men and of the society in which they lived, first as prisoners and then as free men. A contribution to the history of Australia, to the history of migrants and migration, and to the history of human rights, this book helps to tell a story the full dimensions and complexity of which have never been described.
by Ken Inglis, Bill Gammage, Seumas Spark and Jay Winter with Carol Bunyan
This second volume of Dunera Lives presents the voices, faces, and lives of 20 people, who, together with nearly 3000 other internees from Britain and Singapore, landed in Australia in 1940. All over the world there were Dunera Lives, those of men and women who passed through the upheavals of the Second World War and survived to tell the tale. Here are some of their stories.