Interview with Mrs Doris Liffman (When the war came to Australia)

Place Europe: Austria
Accession Number F04074
Collection type Film
Object type To be confirmed
Physical description Betacam SP/Colour/sound
Maker Look Television Productions Pty Ltd
Place made Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Date made 7 March 1991
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Period 1990-1999

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


Mrs Liffman left Austria in 1938 aged 18, when Austria was annexed by Germany. She went firstly to England and then to Australia. Her first impression of Australia was a positive one - Melbourne resembled European cities in her opinion. She describes being classed as an "enemy alien" at the outbreak of war-restrictions, curfew, passes for travel etc.Mrs Liffman describes getting a job as a secretary in a customs agency - it was difficult for professional refugees to get jobs. She describes her feelings at the outbreak of war, as her parents were still in Austria. Being a Jewish family they were moved to Teresenstadt concentration camp. Of her parents she says, " ..they had some pellets, they didn't want to live through it, they didn't want to leave Vienna..[when they heard I was married,] they changed their minds.." Her father died in the camp, her mother came out to Melbourne. After the war, Mrs Liffman returned to Vienna and Austria for a visit - she had rejected Austria as having accepted Hitler too readily prior to the out break of war. She comments that Australia has undergone major changes in the last 50 years - progressing from an unsophisticated, British style society with plenty of simple food to a more culturally diverse nation. She comments that her original classification as an enemy alien was changed to refugee alien - these refugees were hardly enemies of the Allies. In her opinion, Australia has developed different attitudes due to overseas'experiences, and the influence of the Americans, especially in Sydney. There is discussion about the holocaust and Australian understanding of it.