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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Cultural Studies »

Robert Manne on growing up in Australia in the 1950s

Robert Manne and Mara Moustafine.

Political scientist Robert Manne describes growing up in Australia in the 1950s.



Date Added:

02 April 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

7.5 MB






Yes, well my parents were just teenagers or a bit older when the – in the last years before the first – the Second World War, and Australia very late in the piece before the Second World War broke out, made a very good decision which was to accept a reasonable number of Jewish refugees from Europe and my mother and father didn’t know each other, my mother was from Berlin and my father lived in Vienna, and they came out separately. My mother came via Holland, my father was actually travelling in Africa, buying wood for a little furniture business in Vienna and when the Germans invaded and occupied Austria and he never returned home.


And eventually was received by Australia. So they came and they were here during the Second World War and they both worked and eventually met and married and had two children and I was – I was born in 1947, a couple of years after the end of the Second World War.


Well at first we lived in St Kilda, I suppose, in a big block of flats and then my father who had a moment of reasonable prosperity which didn’t last, the family went broke, but he had a moment of prosperity and built a very nice house in Ivanhoe, East Ivanhoe, which was my – a very happy time for me. He died when I was quite young and then we moved to Camberwell and I lived in Camberwell.


I was aware even though my parents didn’t say much about it, that there had been a great tragedy, you know which we called the holocaust in which their grandparents had all been killed and many other family members and they’d lost their world really. And they didn’t quite understand Australia, it was a new place. So I had this sense of a family tragedy which even – in a way even because it wasn’t discussed it affected me more. On the other hand, I lived in a very Anglo area of Melbourne, Ivanhoe and I played cricket and played football and went to primary school and was treated, I must say by neighbours and by school friends, I thought very- you know as a – as not as a strange person at all. And was really welcomed and accepted I thought.


So, there was one part of my life which was very happy and even idyllic in a way, and another part where I was aware of some terrible thing that had happened and it created a sort interesting kind of contrast in the way I looked at the world.


End transcript