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Books

Interrupted Journeys: Young Refugees from Hitler's Reich, by Alan Gill

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 Contents - Sep 2004AD2000 September 2004 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: 2004 Fighting Fund launched - Michael Gilchrist
Morwell: Vatican decision backs parish priests who uphold Church teachings - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
Pulp Fiction: Religious illiteracy and 'The Da Vinci Code' - Fr Martin Tierney
Books: Exposing 'The Da Vinci Code' fraud - James Hitchcock
Iraqi bishop: positive developments despite the violence and bloodshed - Bishop Rabban Al-Qas
Terrorist attacks on Iraqi Christians - Catholic World News
Mass Attendance: Where have all the worshippers gone? - Fr Martin Durham
Sydney Catholic Adult Education Centre courses prove popular - Peter Holmes
Mission: Sydney seminary's evangelisation program revitalises parish - Bishop Julian Porteous
Events: Carnivale Christi Melbourne to celebrate Graham Greene's centenary - Liam Houlihan
Why not a little Latin in the liturgy? - Angus Sibley
Adult education: Latin language course in Melbourne
Letters: Thank you from East Timor (letter) - Fr Marcos de Oliviera SDB
Letters: Mass translation? - Philip Holberton
Letters: NRSV Bible - Mrs M.A. Ross
Letters: Liturgy abuses - Peter Lynch
Letters: 'King Arthur' an anti-Catholic movie - Fr Brian Harrison
Letters: Permissiveness - Ena Makaus
Letters: State Aid - George Caruana JP
Letters: Maronite Church - L.L. Booth
Letters: Support given - Barry O'Brien
Letters: The Power of One - Carola Morgan
Letters: AIDS in the Philippines - Christopher Rule
Letters: Freedom to be Born pro-life march - George F. Simpson
Letters: Moral relativism - Tim Coyle
Books: The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, by Philip Jenkins - John Barich (reviewer)
Books: The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America, by David Carlin - Fr James Schall SJ (reviewer)
Books: Interrupted Journeys: Young Refugees from Hitler's Reich, by Alan Gill - Michael Gilchrist (reviewer)
Books: Catholic Family Catechism: 2004 Disciples Edition with 50 Questions and Answers - Fr Peter Murphy
Books: More new titles from AD Books
Reflection: Why the priesthood is absolutely necessary - Fr John O'Neill

(Simon & Schuster, 2004, 306pp, $34.95. Available through AD Books)

The number of TV documentaries and well-researched books shedding additional light on every conceivable aspect of World War II has been seemingly endless. Fascination with the subject almost sixty years after the war's end shows no sign of slackening.

Alan Gill, a former longtime religious columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald and author of the well-received Orphans of the Empire, focuses in his latest book on the experiences of children, teenagers and young adults who somehow escaped the clutches of the Nazis in Europe.

Most, but not all, were Jewish, and it is those who finally settled in Australia after often hair-raising adventures and hardships that are the focus of Gill's meticulous research.

The author spent several years interviewing many former wartime refugees - now in their 60s and 70s - and recording their gripping stories as they sought to escape Hitler and find safety in a new land. Their "interrupted journeys" were often bedevilled by incredible ignorance, paranoia and insensitivity on the part of Australian officialdom.

Perhaps the most interesting episode for readers of this journal, and covered in some detail, is the story of the 20 members of the Vienna Mozart Boys' Choir. At the outbreak of war, they were scheduled to give their final performance in Perth following a highly successful Pacific tour of the USA, New Zealand and Australia.

The choirmaster Dr Georg Gruber remembered an off-the-cuff remark by Archbishop Mannix when the choir was in Melbourne: "Why don't you stay and sing with us?" Stranded in Perth, Dr Gruber telegrammed Dr Mannix and received the reply: "Come immediately." For most of the war, the boys became the official choir of St Patrick's Cathedral.

Archbishop Mannix and the Catholic Church (including its schools) are involved in a number of interesting episodes, with a few less than edifying. One refugee recalled attending a Christian Brothers College: "There was a brother called 'Waddy' Ryan. He would line you up and say: 'All right boys, just come along; you're all going to get six of the best'. All this and the class hadn't even started."

Such aberrations aside, it is pleasant to read a World War II book with so many happy endings.

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 17 No 8 (September 2004), p. 18

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