Broadcaster Nick Ross shared previously unseen documents chronicling his father’s time in an Australian internment camp during the Second World War at the Board of Deputies’ Hidden Treasures Jewish Heirlooms Roadshow on Sunday.
At the online event, attended by more than 1,700 people, historian Dr Rachel Pistol discussed the material – which includes a plan of Hay Camp 7 belonging to Hans Rosenbluth (Nick’s father), a 3-D paper model he made of Hut 26 where he lived and greetings cards produced by his fellow internees, featuring caricatures of Hans. The inmates of Hut 26 were known as the Roebucks, after a pub in Richmond, London. Rachel outlined the background – several thousand young men were sent to Australia in July 1940 on the Dunera, a British ship, to be interned as so-called ‘enemy aliens’ during World War 2. The internment of all German-born males was a panic reaction to fear of Nazi invasion in 1940, and resulted in the imprisonment of thousands of Jews and other anti-fascists, many of whom, like Hans Rosenbluth, eventually volunteered for the British armed forces.
Nick Ross said: “We discovered this material in a black case when we were going through our late parents belongings. Hans was the Postmaster and the Secretary of the Camp so there is a huge amount of documentation, some of which can be seen at the Migration Museum in Lewisham until June 2021.”
Dr Pistol said: “Nick has a treasure trove of material about Hay and his father’s archive gives us great insight into day to day life in the camp.”
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said “We are delighted to be leading the Hidden Treasures project, celebrating Jewish archives in Britain and are grateful to Nick Ross and Dr Rachel Pistol for sharing this fascinating story.”