‘It is rare to read a diary which so vividly conjures up both time and place. In Shadowline Uwe Radok depicts the world he faced as a detainee in Australia during World War II and his struggles to understand and come to terms with his sexuality. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the ways in which Australia experienced that part of our history.’ Professor Dennis Altman AM
‘Much of Australia’s history involves ‘boat people’. Notable amongst them, the Dunera Boys. I thought I knew the story well until I read the diaries of Uwe Radok. Revelatory and remarkable!’ Phillip Adams AO
‘Telling the story of deprivation and denial combined with self-doubt, the diary entries powerfully show the urgency of love, especially when faced with hostility and social denial … He was a hero beyond his knowing.’ The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG
In September 1939 Britain declared war on Germany, and the life of Uwe Radok, a young German-born engineer working in Scotland, changed forever. Classified as an ‘enemy alien’, Uwe was deported to Canada on the Arandora Star. When the ship was torpedoed, drowning more than 800, Uwe and his brothers survived – only to be marched onto the infamous Dunera, bound for Australia.
From 1940 to 1943 Uwe kept a series of diaries. Their pages offer a remarkable account of the effects of displacement. The harrowing voyage and the tedium of indefinite detainment are rendered with clarity. Over time, this gives way to an exploration of the contours of love, as Uwe formed a sustaining connection with another male internee.
Edited by Uwe’s daughter Jacquie Houlden and historian Seumas Spark, the diaries offer a fascinating insight into life in wartime internment. In depicting the barriers to homosexual and bisexual love in the 1940s, they reveal a new element to the Dunera story that has gone unexplored. Vivid and poignant, Shadowline is a powerful portrait of a man torn between his feelings and society’s expectations.
Editor royalties from this book will be donated to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, to help protect and support those seeking asylum in Australia today.