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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »

Arnold Zable on his parents struggle to get to Australia

Mara Moustafine and Arnold Zable.

Writer Arnold Zable describes the struggle of his parents to get to Australia after fleeing Poland before the War.



Date Added:

30 March 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

7.1 MB






My name’s Arnold Zable and I was born in New Zealand actually, but my parents were born in Poland. They were born on the Russian-Polish border in a city called Bialastov for my father and a nearby village called Grudek (sp?) for my mother. And they lost their entire families in the holocaust. My father – his entire family – and my mother, all bar two sisters. And I think this is something that’s haunted me so, the reason I was born in New Zealand was because my mother actually managed to get out of Poland before the war and she came to Australia where she had one sister.


And – but she left Poland having married her childhood sweetheart the day before she left and when she arrived here and went to immigration to apply for his visa, they said, “You’ve mislead us.” And she was told that she was going to be deported. Now I think behind this, lies the fact that you know, the Great Depression was on, I think immigration had slowed to a trickle. So I think there were other things going on but nevertheless that was the reason they gave them, so for the next 15 months she fought to stay in Australia but finally she gave up and she would have gone back to Poland and probably certain death if it wasn’t for the fact that someone in New Zealand, in the very small New Zealand Jewish community interceded on her behalf.


So she went to New Zealand and I often say, I’m alive today because my mother was a queue jumper. So she went to New Zealand and then she fought for several more years to bring my father over and she brought him over in the late 1930s, just before the gates closed. And I think I was haunted from childhood by that absence, you know, when I – when I say I was born in New Zealand, in a way that’s misleading because when I was barely a year old, we came to Melbourne and the reason we came to Melbourne is that as soon as the war was over, I was born in 1947, my older brother and I in 1946. So, as soon as the war was over, really my mother wanted to make a connection with the one living relative she had.


End transcript