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The Vanished Musicians

Jewish Refugees in Australia


Albrecht Dümling

About 9,000 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany settled in Australia between 1933 and 1945, a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands who fled. Although initially greeted with a mixed reception as «enemy aliens», some of these refugees remained and made a significant impact on multicultural Australia. This book traces the difficult journey of the orchestral performers, virtuoso soloists, singers, conductors and composers who sought refuge on a distant continent. A few were famous artists who toured Australia and stayed, most notably the piano virtuoso Jascha Spivakovsky and the members of the Weintraubs Syncopators, one of the most successful jazz bands of the Weimar Republic. Drawing on extensive primary sources – including correspondence, travel documents and interviews with the refugees themselves or their descendants – the author depicts in vivid detail the lives of nearly a hundred displaced musicians. Available for the first time in English, this volume brings to light a wealth of Jewish, exilic and musical history that was hitherto unknown.
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Chapter 4 : On the Other Side of the World


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On the Other Side of the World

Spirit of Adventure? Off to Australia as Musicians

Today, Australia is one of the favourite long-distance holiday destinations for Germans; in this huge country they experience a vast and unspoilt natural landscape found hardly anywhere else in the world. Here they can fulfil their dreams of freedom and adventure in a way that is no longer possible in what was once the ‘Wild West’. Australia’s positive image – illustrated by the 2000 Sydney Olympics, with its colourful pictures of sportspeople – would be unthinkable without the development of aviation. However, when this distant continent could be reached only after several months at sea, ‘down under’ was the epitome of remoteness and isolation. Australia was therefore sometimes designated as The Never Never.1

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