IN NOVEMBER 1949, the passenger ship the Continental arrived at the docks in Port Melbourne. Among the 200 or so passengers on board, most of them Jews from the displaced persons (DP) camps in Austria and Germany, was my family. My mother, my father, my three older sisters and me. I was born in a DP camp in Linz, Austria, and lived there with my family for almost the first three years of my life.
Given my age when I was carried off the Continental by my oldest sister, who by then was married and pregnant with her first child, I have no memory of the moment I first touched the ground in Australia. Nor do I recall who was there to greet these Jews, most of them refugees and Holocaust survivors.
But my father and my sisters told me when I was old enough to listen, that some lovely Jewish people had been there on the dock to greet us. They did not, as far as I can recall, say that Mina or Leo Fink were among them.
But having now read Margaret Taft’s book, Leo and Mina Fink: For the Greater Good, having read about the way Leo and Mina had been there for virtually every ship arrival carrying Jewish refugees—how they had worked so tirelessly to get the Australian government to accept these Holocaust survivors, how they had been key players in establishing the refugee and welfare organisations that helped bring thousands of these broken traumatised people to Australia, I was pretty sure that either Leo or Mina Fink, or both of them, were there on the dock to greet us.
Read the full launch speech at plus61j.net.au
Leo and Mina FinkMargaret Taft