Australia's Response to the Holocaust


How did Australia respond to the events that were taking place in Nazi Germany and Europe during and after the Second World War?

Australia has a long history of accepting migrants to its shores from all parts of the world. However, there has also been a deep-seated suspicion of, and animosity towards, “foreigners” as exemplified by the White Australia Policy. In this lecture, we will examine the complex relationship that exists when it comes to Jewish migration, focusing on the Australian response to the rise of Nazism, the Evian conference and Kristallnacht, as well as other key developments. In the post war period, discriminatory policies against Jewish migration continued, even after knowledge of the mass murders of Europe’s Jews. Despite these exclusionary policies Australia did eventually receive the most Holocaust survivors on a pro rata population basis. These individuals had a lasting impact on shaping both the Jewish and broader Australian communities.

Daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Sue places importance on remembering the past to create a more tolerant future. She has a Masters degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies (2010). She is the Co-President of the Melbourne Holocaust Museum. Academic mentor to indigenous students at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.Teaching associate in Holocaust, Genocide and Post-conflict studies at the School of Philosophical and Historical Studies at Monash University. Researcher, Australian Holocaust Memoir Project, Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University. She is also the International Chair of the Education Working Group (EWG) for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) - 2021. She has co-authored with Suzanne Rutland (2021) on ‘Holocaust Remembrance in Australia: Moving from Family and Community Remembrance to Human Rights Education,’ in Conceptualizing Mass Violence: Representations, Recollections and Reinterpretations. Routledge Press.