Publication Date: Sep 2024
RRP: $39.99
ISBN: 9781922979780
Format: Paperback
Size: 234mm x 170mm
Pages: 336pp text + 2x 32pp image sections
Category: Jewish, Migration & Emigration Stories

No One Knows Their Destiny

The Eckfeld Records: Inside the Dunera Story

Tonia Eckfeld

This item will be released September 1, 2024

A moving portrait of two Dunera Boys, from Kristallnacht in Vienna to VE Day in Melbourne, that complicates the traditional story of the Dunera.

Popular culture has mythologised the Dunera Boys – but who were the real men who sailed on the infamous ship, and how did the voyage transform their lives?

Art historian Tonia Eckfeld draws on a deeply personal history to tell the story of her father and her uncle, Jewish refugees whose lives were shaped indelibly by their wartime experiences and internment – each to very different outcomes.

In 1939, Reinhold and Waldemar Eckfeld fled Hitler’s Austria to Churchill’s United Kingdom. There they were unjustly arrested and transported on the Dunera to Tatura prison camp, where it took many months to gain their freedom. Their experiences of internment were often harrowing, riven with violence, deprivation and frustration. Waldemar, who was beaten by British guards aboard the Dunera, found himself entangled in court martial proceedings – the records of which were reportedly destroyed by the British government to hush up a human-rights scandal. Reinhold, classified as an ‘enemy alien’, joined the Australian Army after release and served the country that would not legally recognise him for so long.

Drawing on a trove of historical artefacts – including previously unseen artworks, photographs and official documents – Tonia Eckfeld takes the reader inside these events as they unfold. Gripping and illuminating, this book asks us to reconsider the conventional narrative of the Dunera Boys, unearthing new perspectives on the impact of war, trauma and legacy on family relationships.


Tonia Eckfeld

Professor Tonia Eckfeld is an internationally renowned art historian and a principal fellow at the University of Melbourne. She was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship to the University of Chicago and a research fellowship to Harvard University, and was an honorary...
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