New book on William Cooper – and the march makes its mark

December 12, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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The 1938 march to the German Consulate in Melbourne by a group of Aborigines to protest the Holocaust-triggering events of Kristallnacht was re-enacted recently.

The Aboriginal and Israeli flags and supporters

In 1938, the consul refused to see William Cooper and his band of protesters. But last Thursday, exactly 74 years after the event, the current German Consul in Melbourne accepted a duplicate from Cooper’s grandson Boydie Turner.

The German honorary consul Michael Pearce told ABC radio that the consul in 1938 “should have accepted this letter.”  Jewish community members including Holocaust survivors were at the consulate when the contents of the letter were read out. Cooper had called for the Consul in 1938 “to make it known to your government and its military leaders that this cruel persecution of their fellow citizens must be brought to an end.” The letter also stated that “we protest wholeheartedly at the cruel persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazi Government.”

Alf turner and members of the Cooper family

Barbara Miller and Konrad Kwiet


And in Sydney over 140 people attended the launch of a new book on the march’s leader, William Cooper at at the Sydney Jewish Museum.

The Book entitled; William Cooper – Gentle Warrior, written by Barbara Miller, tells the story of the Aboriginal Elder William Cooper, who on 6th December 1938 walked from his Footscray home to the German Consulate in Melbourne to protest Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) in Germany and Austria when Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were ransacked and many Jews murdered.

Josie Lacey, OAM, a Life Member of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and Convenor of Religions for Peace NSW, acted as the MC at the event.

Norman Seligman, CEO of the Museum, welcomed the large crowd and many dignitaries including The Hon Walt Secord , Australian Labor Party member of the New South Wales Legislative Council and Linda Burney, MP, Shadow Opposition Leader NSW

The author Barbara Miller who is the Co-Founder Centre for International Reconciliation and Peace spoke warmly about the connection between the Jewish and Aboriginal People and strongly condemned the recent UN resolution on Israel.

Prof Konrad Kwiet, resident historian at the Museum officially launched the book and gave the audience a fascinating overview of the history of the period preceding the Holocaust.

Lydia Miller, the Executive Director Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts, Australia Council spoke eloquently about racial tolerance and acceptance.

It was a privilege to welcome Alf Turner, grandson of William Cooper and many other of his descendants and family members and they were able to view the William Cooper Memorial plaque in the Museum.

Aviva Wolff, Office and Events Manager, gave a final vote of thanks followed by Rabbi Zalman Kastel, National Director of the Together for Humanity Foundation who lit the Chanukah candles.

It was a most thought provoking, informative afternoon and a fitting launch for a wonderful book.

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