Wednesday 26 February
In this Lunchtime Lecture, Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, Resident Museum Historian, will discuss some of Australian responses to the “Jewish Catastrophe” unfolding in Europe and Australia’s post-war connection to the Holocaust.
Australia is not typically associated to the Holocaust; it is geographically far from where the systematic decimation of European Jewry took place. But actually, Australia has a strong connection with Holocaust history.
In 1938, after the Anschluss of Austria, a high-ranking SS leader proposed a “territorial solution of the Jewish problem” by deporting all Jews to Australia. In 1933, there was a small Jewish community, attracting 23 000 members, a number which Australia was not keen on increasing at the 1938 Evian Conference, the international consultation meeting devoted to solving the problem of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe.
Prior to World War II, some 9,000 Jews from Central Europe found a safe haven in Australia. After the Holocaust Australia welcomed some 31,000 survivors. After Israel, it accepted, on a pro-rata population basis, more survivors than any other country. Today, they are less than 7,000 alive.
Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet is a German-born historian and child survivor of the Holocaust. Formerly the Pratt Foundation Professor in Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at The University of Sydney and the Chief Historian of the Australian War Crimes Commission. He is Emeritus Professor in German and European Studies at Macquarie University, is Adjunct Professor in Jewish Studies and Roth Lecturer in Holocaust, and Resident Historian at the Sydney Jewish Museum.
Konrad is the author of 10 books and over 80 articles, chapters and historical dictionary entries. His research interests include: Modern Jewish history, with specific focus on the History of the Holocaust, Antisemitism, German-Jewish relations, Nazi war crimes, German and exile studies.