A ‘Wholly Unwarranted Penalisation’: The International Refugee Organisation and the funding of post-war Jewish immigration to Australia

Journal article
In Journal Issue

Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal, 26, 3 (2023)

Author(s) Andrew Markus
Suzanne Rutland AbstractJewish immigration to Australia in the aftermath of the Holocaust has been much studied. This article adds to knowledge of the period by examining one aspect which to the present has not received sufficient consideration, that pertaining to the funding of Jewish survivor immigration from Europe. After the war, the cost of travel to Australia was substantial, the equivalent of male average weekly earn­ings over 20 or more weeks. Australian Jewish organisations lacked the capacity to assist at the level required by thou­sands of Jewish survivors who wished to migrate to Australia and they turned to American Jewish welfare organisations, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, but even their resources were stretched. The International Refugee Organisation stepped into the breach and provided subsidies for travel of Jewish refugees in the first year of its operation, but in August 1948 it was required to cease this funding assistance by Australia’s minister for immigration, Arthur Calwell. This article exam­ines the reasons for Calwell’s action, and the failed attempts to secure its reversal during Calwell’s ministry and that of his successor, Harold Holt. It reveals political judgements and prejudices that overrode humanitarian concerns.
Year2023
Pages286-317
Keyword(s)Jewish immigration 1946-52;Refugees and welfare;Arthur Calwell;International Refugee Organisation;American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee;Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
A ‘Wholly Unwarranted Penalisation’: The International Refugee Organisation and the funding of post-war Jewish immigration to Australia
A ‘Wholly Unwarranted Penalisation’: The International Refugee Organisation and the funding of post-war Jewish immigration to Australia
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