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Helen Bamber

Last night Andrew Denton interviewed Helen Bamber. The prepublicity had been – basically — Helen who?

I had read Neil Belton’s The Good Listener: A Life against Cruelty [1998] some time back – see Only the demons are dancing… – and looked forward to seeing and hearing her for the first time. I was not disappointed.

bamber01 ANDREW DENTON: What is it about the world today that scares you?

HELEN BAMBER: When people, when victims are thrown up through man’s inhumanity, whatever it is, through war, through ethnic violence, whatever it is, I feel the banality of and the denial that accompanies people’s stories and people’s claim for protection when they’re really in danger. Very, very problematic indeed.

ANDREW DENTON: I’m struck by what you said before though when you became upset, you said that these stories have to be told over and over again. Why do people have to be reminded? Why have they forgotten?

HELEN BAMBER: Yes some people don’t know and don’t want to know and have no historical sense of what’s gone on even for their parents or their grandparents, It is the denial of people in a consumer society that we have in our midst, people who are living in danger, who fear danger if they are returned, who may be deemed and (I don’t know whether this is a word that’s used in other countries), may be deemed to be failed asylum seekers. And therefore they are denied protection, they are denied benefits and they’re denied accommodation and healthcare. And I find this extraordinary in a civilised world, a civilised country, a civilised Europe…

ANDREW DENTON: Are you optimistic for the future of humanity?

HELEN BAMBER: I wish we could learn better, both in psychological terms because there’s so much knowledge, and in political terms, and especially in historical terms. I wish we could learn.

ANDREW DENTON: Helen, I’ve asked you to bring in one thing from your life that means something to you. What have you brought?

HELEN BAMBER: Oh yes, yes. I thought about it and course, because I am a collector, there were hundreds of things…but there’s this, this was given to me in Belsen. You know after liberation and when people got better we began to develop a kind of structure within the camp because people were going to be there for so long. I don’t think people realised but people remained there until 1950, many years there was nowhere for them to go. No doors were open for them, and so workshops were set up and a committee was set up, and a theatre was set up and this is one of the things that was made in the workshop, and this was given to me by a young… I don’t know how old he was – probably 16, 17… and he said don’t forget me. When I was holding this and talking my colleagues said you know your holding it a bit like a microphone and it’s interesting you know, telling the story…

A great woman.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2009 in History, Holocaust, human rights, humanity, media watch, memory, TV

 

Apology to forgotten Australians

Yesterday was a great day in Parliament.

THEY were called the ”forgotten Australians”.

But the more than half a million state wards, foster children and former child migrants were renamed the ”remembered Australians” yesterday by Kevin Rudd, as he apologised on behalf of the nation for the abuse and neglect they suffered in church and state care.

Mr Rudd and the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, fought back tears as they delivered the historic apology in the Great Hall of Parliament House…

You can see a powerful documentary on these matters on ABC at 8.30 tonight.

Meanwhile I have been interviewing an old Darlington resident and activist, Bev Hunter, about the suburb a university swallowed – and I have been going down memory lane rather a bit myself in the process. That’s the current South Sydney Herald project and the deadline is 24 hours off…

See you later.

Update 2.00 pm

Article done. Here is a sneak preview:

Shuffling the years with Bev Hunter

Like old Dan in Judith Wright’s “South of My Days” John and Bev Hunter have seventy years of Darlington memories hived up in them like old honey. “It was a great place. We had the best of it,” Bev recalls. “It was a really safe area. You could leave your key in the door, or leave it open, or the key under the mat. You never got shut out.” …

Wait for the December/January South Sydney Herald for the rest.

 

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Mary Travers – and more nostalgia

Here is the very album I bought as a teenager.

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Posted by on September 18, 2009 in America, memory, music, nostalgia, USA

 

Another from the recently found archive

Most of us write because we like ourselves better when we write. We write because it gives our lives meaning, because we get to tell our stories.

That is from the web pages of Jessica Page Morrell, author of Writing Out the Storm (Portland, Starbound Press, 1998). I have quite an extensive library of books on writing, ranging from the usual reference texts to manuals to literary theory and linguistics. Morrell’s is in the self-help or writing-as-therapy genre, which some might regard patronisingly–but I do not. There are truths about writing in such texts, truths more useful in fact than in much of the academic theory–certainly more useful than most of the postmodern stuff I have had occasion to read lately. But it is not really a case of either/or; different focus, that’s all.

Writing makes your life better because you get to speak your truth and turn a discriminating eye at this weird planet and tell other people just how you see things. Most people who write regularly, who make writing a crucial component in their existence, like themselves better than when they’re not writing. It’s pretty simple. I know it works because it worked for me. If you write regularly–no matter what the subject or format–you’ll shift your muddled worries to clarity, your vague hopes to reality, and your denial to crystal truth….

Some of us write for the sheer joy of putting words on paper, but for others there are leftover hurts or a deep, dwelling loneliness begging to be healed. Most writers know that pain is eased by the company of words. So we write. [Writing Out the Storm pp. 2-4]

Certainly this diary began (offline) in 1999 because of a "dwelling loneliness begging to be healed." I am less lonely now, thanks to certain events over the past two years, but the writing bug is still here, and I recommend writing to anyone. I don’t write every day, but pretty damned close! Just fifteen minutes or so is as good a form of meditation as I know–and now and again it even results in something better than a rant!

Writing Out the Storm has some good practical advice on writing, all the more valuable as it counterbalances the tendency to dehumanisation that academic writing inevitably produces. Academic writing is often very bad writing; is it not ironic that we actually have to teach some of the very worst vices of academic prose to students whose natural inclination is to write well? We have to prepare them to stifle their authentic writing voices so that they can produce the turgid over-nominalised polysyllabic stuff that academics regard as appropriate.
Gary B. Larson’s portal to an annotated directory of writing Web sites, editorial style manual, concise writing guide, personalized advice and writing forum is also well worth visiting.

On other matters, a very well-researched book I have been reading lately is Neil Miller’s Sex-Crime Panic (Los Angeles, Alyson Books, 2002) — from the excellent Surry Hills Library. It is very fair in its depiction of 1950s therapeutic and criminological views of homosexuality, American of course but not dissimilar to what prevailed in Australia and coloured my own views in my late teens and twenties. It is quite a cautionary tale. The review I have linked to tells you more.

— 15 September 2002

 
 

Sunday is music day 24: Click go the shears…

… or perhaps “Quick go the shears…”

Yes, that is SO Australian. But it tells of time past rather more than time present, and is more true of 1909, even 1959, than of 2009. All things must pass, as the article I linked to above in The Australian notes.

THEY are becoming icons of a passing era. As sheep numbers continue to plummet, so do the carloads of shearers crisscrossing the backblocks in search of work.

In Western Australia, where some of the big remote stations could carry up to 60,000 head of sheep in their heyday, the harsh realities of modern life are threatening to turn our most romantic profession into nothing more than a curiosity…

In 1971, there were 155 million sheep across the nation, propping up the long-held notion that the country had made its luck off the sheep’s back. Today, there are fewer than 70 million, and that number has been dropping annually by anywhere between 5 and 8 per cent over the past decade. That trend is not expected to change…

Here is another rendition, in its own way a marker of how this country is changing.

Well, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube…

 

Glebe revisited

As I mention on the photo blog, I went over to an old stamping ground of mine today: Glebe and Forest Lodge. One reason was to drop off copies of The South Sydney Herald at the bookshops whose proprietors I had interviewed (on Skype!) for my article in the July edition.

Bit of a private joke this:

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Cornstalk Books was one of my destinations. The room above the shop – empty then – was the place all but the last issues of Neos were launched between 1981 and 1984. Memories!

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In the $5 tray outside I picked up something of a treasure: A D Fraser (ed), This Century of Ours: Being an Account of the Origin and History during One Hundred Years of the House of Dangar, Gedye & Malloch Ltd, of Sydney, 1938. I am sure Jim Belshaw would be interested. (I’ll sell it to you for $100, Jim! ;)) I see it is $25 on that catalogue at the link.

This is the frontispiece by artist Raymond Lindsay.

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And even more, I’m afraid…

Curious, isn’t it? Here I am in this country which has allegedly taken up “curry bashing” as a sport extending beyond the Cricket field and I bought my Sydney Morning Herald this morning, several of the lead stories in which are by one Arjun Ramachandran, from the Indian newsagent to see that Miranda Devine has returned to the theme. I even agree with some of what she says, insofar as the people actually doing the bashing tend to come from a pool of thugs fairly well known for a similar interest in targeting gays, not that Miranda mentions that. (Lord Malcolm was once on the receiving end.) Jim Belshaw’s term “underclass” is another that Miranda eschews. Instead her King Charles’ Head leads her down a slippery slope – no racial profiling intended – where I would rather not follow. She accuses Kevin Rudd of hypocrisy for advocating that vigilante action really is not a good idea, and rather commends the good folk of Cronulla 2005.

…In a strange twist of fate, Superintendent Robert Redfern, the Parramatta local area commander who was hard at work at the Harris Park protests at midnight on Tuesday, was also police commander at Cronulla during the 2005 race riots. We saw then the dangers of vigilantism.

Back then, Cronulla locals had been complaining for months that police were playing down assaults and menacing behaviour by what they described as "Middle Eastern" youths from south-western Sydney. There was a protest, which turned into an ugly riot with racist violence against anyone who looked Middle Eastern, followed by revenge attacks as young men from the south-west drove to Cronulla damaging property and assaulting people, with police nowhere to be seen.

In Harris Park, the script is familiar. Police play down crime problems, victims lose faith in the authorities to protect them, start to protest, take matters into their own hands, attack innocent passers-by. So far there have been no revenge attacks but it’s unlikely police can guarantee they won’t occur.

I sincerely hope Miranda isn’t hoping… And I should add, as a Shire boy myself originally, that the openly racist nut who attempted to be elected to Sutherland Council last year failed miserably.

You see, I brought the first Indian into The Shire myself, or perhaps I did. It was back in 1957 when I brought one of my best school friends, Ashok, home to Kirrawee. That of course was when institutional racism was alive and well in Australia. There was the White Australia policy, generally supported by the Left partly on the grounds that it protected Australian working conditions and kept the “Yellow Peril” at bay, and there was our Aboriginal policy, though that was beginning to be questioned. There the Left had a better track record. Mind you, hindsight is all very well, isn’t it?

My father was a bit worried about the prospect of meeting Ashok. He wanted to know how black he was, and warned me about the strange things some folks did when the moon was full. On meeting him, though, it was almost love at first sight, and over thirty years later, when my father was unfortunately quite gaga, he would ask me how Ashok was, though it was thirty years since Ashok had gone on to higher fields at St Paul’s School in London. His father, you see, was Assistant Indian Trade Commissioner, which explains why Ashok and Anand were in Australia at that time. My mother thought Ashok’s mum’s saris were really beautiful, and Ashok’s manners were at times a contrast to my own.

The local Kirrawee boys were just disappointed that Ashok didn’t have feathers and a bow and arrow…

Forty years on and The Mine had more subcontinentals – who tended to call themselves “curries”—than you could poke a stick at. Not that we did. We did rely on them to keep up the school’s cricketing reputation though.

 

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Sunday is music day 19: Simon & Garfunkel

This month Simon & Garfunkel are here in Australia, probably for the last time.

This song is one of my favourites, capturing the spirit of the time but also channeling T S Eliot.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2009 in memory, music, Sunday music

 

Roads taken and not taken

Off shortly to my fortnightly appointment with Dr C.

The title of course refers to the much loved Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken”.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

There’s an interesting discussion of this deceptively simple poem here: Robert Frost’s Tricky Poem.

Way back when (last century) when I studied History II at Sydney University with classmate Philip Ruddock I wrote a not very good essay on Edward Gibbon. I was trying to kill two birds with one stone, as Gibbon was also set for study in English. (Even the lecturer never finished The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.) The essay topic was odd too, being in French! Translated it meant something like: “What is a great life? A dream of youth carried out in maturity” – Discuss in relation to Gibbon’s ‘Autobiography’.

My dream of youth was to be a scientist. By youth I mean about age seven when, I am told, on our driving past the University – there was only one in Sydney then – I asserted that one day I would go there. That I accomplished at 16, the first in the family to do so. But Science didn’t figure by then. I also once considered journalism, but seem to have channelled that into blogging much later on, though I did write articles in English teacher publications and did a spot of literary editing. Still, it’s nice that now I am an occasional cub reporter for The South Sydney Herald. (My piece has been accepted, by the way. Dorothy was nice about it: “Just looked at your write-up of the Human Rights event – very professional! As one would expect from a person like you.” You’ll see it in June.)

I also was offered Law – twice: once when I left school, and once when I had a year out being an Insurance clerk for the MLC. But mostly my career turned out to be teaching English and History, and latterly ESL. (My other not much used teaching subject was Latin.) And an up and down career it has been, with a number of byways. Nonetheless it has had its satisfactions.

But who can’t sympathise with the ambiguity of that last stanza by Robert Frost?

 

Tiananmen and all that – 20 years on

Today there is a fascinating story in The Australian: Zhao Ziyang memoir reveals truth on massacre.

THE 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre has been rocked by the emergence of a memoir by former Communist Party general secretary Zhao Ziyang claiming the decision to send in troops caused deep division among the country’s leaders.

The book – painstakingly reconstructed from hours of tape recordings smuggled out by supporters of the late Zhao – will enrage today’s leaders because of his assertion that Western-style democracy was essential if China was to avoid future bloodbaths.

The book raises difficult questions for Chinese President Hu Jintao, who was at Zhao’s side as he emotionally urged students to break up their protest in the days before the crackdown.

The record made by Zhao – who resigned, was purged and held under house arrest for almost 16 years before he died in 2005 – is to be published this month as Prisoner of the State: the Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang.

So sensitive is the document that its existence was kept secret until days before publication. Speculation had been rife during his house arrest and after his death as to whether the man with the most intimate knowledge of the machinations that led to the crackdown on June 3-4, 1989, had provided his own account of the dramatic days.

Zhao’s account confirms the bitter power struggle as students occupied Tiananmen Square, and the deep rivalries between reformists and hardliners, as well as the crucial role played by paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in the decision to use force.

After listening to the arguments of moderates such as Zhao, Deng summarily imposed martial law without even calling a vote of China’s most powerful body, the Politburo Standing Committee.

The army was called in. On the evening of June 3 and into the next day the tanks rolled into the centre of Beijing towards Tiananmen Square, where protests had been growing since the death of liberal leader Hu Yaobang. The troops opened fire on students and civilians, murdering hundreds of people and injuring an unknown number…

zhao_ziyang_and_wen_jiabao

Zhao Ziyang (with loud hailer) in Tianamen Square.

Jiang Qisheng, one of the student leaders in 1989, who served 5 1/2 years in prison, said: "When Zhao Ziyang was dismissed, he had a strong defence for himself, and never admitted wrongdoing (as the party would have liked). It was unusual for a Communist Party cadre. In his 15 years of house arrest, he had thorough rethinking: what is democracy, does China need democracy? The depth of his thinking goes beyond any leader of the Communist Party of China, and the current leadership are far left behind by him.

"The current leadership will pretend to be dumb deaf to his memoir, they will not comment nor attack but try to block his voice. But Zhao has many sympathisers in the party, who have similar opinions with him. They will stand out at a certain time."

Most young people in China only know vaguely of the massacre. The country’s internet censorship infrastructure blocks all mention of the event…

Less well known is what happened in Shanghai. See Spring 1989 in Shanghai – A Memory of the ‘89 Student Movement and on the same blog a somewhat apologetic account by a “guest blogger” Mark Anthony Jones: Sorting fact from fiction – Tiananmen revisited (Part 1). “Fool’s Mountain (愚公移山) is a collaborative effort amongst writers focused on Chinese issues. Through our blog, we publish regular English-language articles and essays for both a Western and Chinese audience. All articles represent only the opinion of the individual writer, and may not reflect the opinions and views of other contributors. All contributors write on a voluntary basis with no compensation; those who write are driven to do so by their conscience, and nothing else. We are completely unaffiliated with any government, political party, or movement.”

Back to Shanghai. At the time this appeared in The New York Times: CHINESE EXECUTE 3 IN PUBLIC DISPLAY FOR PROTEST ROLE. I didn’t register this at the time.

The Chinese authorities staged a public execution today of three young men who were accused of taking part in a violent political protest in Shanghai…

The three young men in Shanghai were presumably executed in the Chinese way, with a bullet fired in the back of the head at close range…

The three men in Shanghai – Xu Guoming, an employee of a Shanghai brewery; Bian Hanwu, who is unemployed, and Yan Xuerong, a worker at a radio factory – were sentenced to death last Thursday but had appealed.

They were accused of helping to set fire to a train on June 6 and then attacking firefighters who arrived to put out the fire. No one was killed, but some firefighters were beaten up and nine rail cars were burned, forcing the closing of the rail line for two days.

The Government has not mentioned the circumstances in which the crowd attacked the train. The crowd had gathered to block the rail line, in protest of the killings of hundreds of students and workers in Beijing two days earlier by the army. A train rammed its way through the human blockade, killing six people who lay on the track, and only then did the outraged crowd attack the train and set it afire.

It is not known what evidence existed against the three men, who appeared to be in their 20’s or perhaps early 30’s, or even exactly what role each was accused of having played in the incident. Nor have the authorities indicated how they caught the three, who were apparently arrested several days later rather than on the scene…

Someone I know well witnessed the events at the station. Not only that but one of the police responsible for leading the arrests was this person’s friend. The two argued afterwards about the correctness of this action. I might add that from what I have been told by this eyewitness The New York Times report is very accurate, except that the three were, as I recall, arrested at the scene. 

Of course I didn’t meet this person until 1990, by which time he was in Australia, like the many other Chinese students I was teaching in a language college, one of whom, a Beijinger, told me in tears one day: “I used to believe in the Communist Party until I saw them killing their own people. I’ve just had a letter from my mother telling me not to come home…” Another student’s first English sentence to me was “My best friend killed in Tiananmen.” Later she explained the circumstances. Another I have met ferried the wounded to hospital. The family of a student of mine at SBHS was sent to Gansu Province (internal exile) because his grandmother, who was in the Ministry of Culture in Beijing, publicly resigned from the Communist Party in protest. Obviously a supporter of Zhao Ziyang, if not necessarily of all the students’ ideas. Later on I met one of the Tiananmen hunger strikers. So I was rather bemused by some Australian communist friends – good friends too – who visited Beijing around July 1989 and came back convinced nothing much had happened there, having swallowed the Party Line whole.

Update

I have revised this entry to further disguise my Shanghainese informant’s identity; I thought that wise on reflection.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2009 in Chinese and China, events, History, human rights, memory

 

Sunday is music day (on Monday) 15 — “Keating”

This was rebroadcast on ABC1 last night.

See also Extraordinary kindness… and It’s Keating day….

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2009 in Australia and Australian, Lord Malcolm, memory, music, replays, Sunday music, TV

 

On the Western Front 1917-1918

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Sydney Anzac Day Parade 2009

Good move

One of the current government’s better decisions has been to support The Anzac Trail.

Australians will soon be able to trace the footsteps of World War I diggers who fought on the Western Front using a new tourist trail meandering through northern France and Belgium.

The Australian government will spend $10 million over the next four years developing the Anzac Trail, which will take visitors to seven sites where Australian diggers fought in key battles and suffered heavy losses.

While detailed plans for the trail are yet to be finalised, part of the money will be spent on improving museums dedicated to the diggers who fought at Villers-Bretonneux, Fromelles and Bullecourt in the Somme as well as linking various battlefield trails through other parts of France and Belgium.

A new interpretive centre to help visitors understand the Australian troops’ part in the conflict will also be built at the small rural village of Pozieres. In mid-1916 Australian forces suffered a massive 23,000 casualties in six weeks on the Pozieres battlefields as they fought to push the Germans out.

The town, where tanks were used for the first time in battle, already features a handful of memorials to the diggers including the remains of a German concrete bunker the Australians captured and which was later nicknamed Gibraltar.

The trail replaces a $30 million plan by the Howard government to build an interpretative centre at the Australian National Memorial near the French town of Villers-Bretonneux, where the second annual Anzac Day dawn service honouring diggers who fought on the Western Front will be held on Saturday…

There was a documentary on ABC on Thursday on the Polygon Wood and the identification and subsequent military burial of some Australian soldiers who died there in 1917: Lost in Flanders.

An overview of the role of Australians on the Western Front.

Family Connection

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Kenneth Ross Whitfield 1897 – 1967

Age 20

I remember Uncle Ken in Shellharbour as a remarkably calm and steady old man with white hair, even if I now realise for some of that time he was rather younger than I am now! He talked little about World War I (or World War II in which he also served.)

It turns out he was in the 3rd Battalion, 25th Reinforcement embarking on board HMAT A14 Euripides in Sydney on 31 October 1917. He would have arrived, then, in time for the events following the battles described in the documentary I saw on Thursday.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, events, History, memory, personal

 

50 years on – 1: a classmate’s story

While looking for a photo from around 1960 for Memorabilia 17 – Sydney University: Fisher Library c.1960, today’s post on a reviving Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole, I came upon a classmate from the class of 1959 at Sydney High. (See also Memorabilia 16 – 50 years on.)

Peter Deli and I were in a number of classes together at school. He wasn’t a close friend, but was certainly someone I talked to. I do remember he had such dreadful handwriting he was called in to read some of his Leaving Certificate papers to the markers. He went on to study History at Sydney University, but was never in the same groups as I was; my History selections were fairly eccentric, a fact that now pleases me: Ancient History I (Near East, Greece, Rome); Modern History IIb (18th century Western Europe, 18th-19th century England); Asian History III. So aside from occasional chats in buses, I saw very little of Peter and never knew – until yesterday – what became of him.

Now I know.

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Peter Francis Nicholas Deli was born on 26 March 1942 in Wellington, New Zealand. His parents, Lewis and Lily, were both Hungarian refugees who had fled Europe just before the beginning of the War. His father, an architect by training, had been a violinist in the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. His mother, who was Jewish, had tried to emigrate to Britain and Australia before settling for New Zealand. They met in New Zealand and married in 1941. After the War the Deli family moved to Sydney, Australia and settled in the Eastern Suburbs at Bondi. Sydney had a much larger population of East European migrs than the whole of New Zealand and the Delis were soon absorbed into the Hungarian community’s protective embrace. Peter’s early school years at Double Bay Primary School were far from typical of the elementary educational experience of most Australian children at the time. The extraordinary mix of nationalities and class backgrounds in the school must have had a profound effect on his early development. In 1955 he won a place to the prestigious Sydney Boys’ High School, one of the best secondary schools in New South Wales. Peter excelled in his studies during these years and matriculated with honours to the University of Sydney in 1960. During his undergraduate years he read History and Philosophy, graduating Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in History in 1964.

Peter was not part of any established campus institutions during his time at Sydney University. They were the preserve of socialites and student politicians and were therefore way beneath the sub-culture in which Peter dwelled. Peter disliked any sort of organised activity. He did however take an active interest in The Push, although he was never part of it. He knew the Push’s Hungarian member George Molnar very well, but the movement really predated Peter’s generation of student activists. Peter instead gathered around him an eclectic and eccentric collection of friends, many of them radically-minded like himself, but not all of them. This group included his closest friend Myron Kofman. Many of them were, like Peter, attempting to throw off some of their middle class upbringing. Clive Kessler, Chris Conybeare*, Bob Connell, Maureen Tighe, Josie Jeffrey and Nina Gantman were among them. Outside the university he collected a gallery of social misfits around him. It was one of these, the ‘Bulgarian anarchist friend’, Jack Goncharoff, who became a major influence on him during his later years at Sydney University. Upon graduation Peter decided to enter the postgraduate Master of Arts programme at Sydney University and began three years of research (1964-67) focusing on Stalinist Russia. During this time he secured his first university appointment, lecturing on nineteenth and twentieth-century European and British history at the University of New South Wales during 1966. He found himself in trouble almost immediately, however, falling foul of Professor Frank Crowley, the doyen of Australian historians at UNSW, because of his long-held and vociferously expressed views on the dullness of Australian History. His M.A. dissertation ‘The Russian Purges 1936-39: Their Image in the Contemporary British Press and their Significance in Historical Perspective’ was awarded First Class Honours and Peter was recommended for the Gold Medal. It was no surprise to his fellow students and teachers that Peter wanted to further his studies after the M.A., but his decision to go to Oxford and read for the D.Phil. in 1967 was an unexpected choice of university…

After a very interesting career, including being in Paris in 1968, Peter succumbed to leukemia and died at home in Hong Kong on 12 February 2001.

The point made there about the cosmopolitan mix at Double Bay and SBHS at the time certainly struck me when I “migrated” from Sutherland (with Ross Mackay, Arno Eglitis, Robert Burnie and Laurence Napier) to SBHS in 1955. On the other hand, much to the surprise of one of my coachees who is now at SBHS, of  206 of us starting out in 1955 only one was Chinese (ABC) and one was Indian – Ashok Hegde, who became a close friend until he went to London in 1958.

* Chris Conybeare: “After March 1996, that culture began to change. The Howard Government was elected on 2 March. The following day, the Secretary of the Immigration Department, Chris Conybeare, was sacked, along with the heads of five other departments. It was a clear message that the Public Service should hold no illusions: everything is politics.”

 

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Strange and sad

Such were my feelings as I watched this last night:

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Back in 2007 I had mentioned the key events before: Sydney Boys High School 1955.

The god-like Fifth Form students — High School only went to Year 11 then — included quite a few who became, well, god-like figures…

One of THE most god-like to us in 1955 was Marcus Einfeld, son of Jewish Labor Party politician Sydney (Syd) Einfeld and his wife Billie. He did indeed go on to a distinguished career, and it is sad to read what is befalling him at this time. Just what he did remains to be tested, but if proven it really would make you wonder why on earth he did it, as Legal Eagle does in How the mighty may fall.

It is doubly sad because Einfeld was so often on the side of the angels, as in this talk in 2001

Many on the Right will feel most self-satisfied if Einfeld’s peculiar attitude to speeding fines is proven in court. I will feel sad that my boyhood hero has feet of clay, but I still won’t discount his intellect or achievement over that half century.

Now he is in jail.

See also Legal Eagle today: The final ignominy.

Update 26 March

It is hard to imagine a stronger contrast with Legal Eagle’s judicious and critical but still charitable post than Miranda Devine in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. She is positively crowing.

I say the good the man did – and he did much – remains good, whatever the faults or indeed crimes of the man.