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December 6: Aborigines Against Anti-Semitism

December 6, 2011

Members of the Australian Aborigines League, led by William Cooper, 77, marched through Melbourne to the German Consulate on this date in 1938 to present a petition protesting Kristallnakht, the Nazi-sponsored pogrom against German Jews. The contingent was turned away at the consulate gate. Cooper had organized the League four years earlier as one of the first groups demanding Aboriginal citizenship and land rights in Australia; his Yorta Yorta people, a collection of several clans, had been thoroughly terrorized and dispersed a century earlier. In 2010, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel announced a plan to build a small garden at its entrance and to establish a chair for the study of anti-Nazi resistance, both in William Cooper’s name. Although the Australian govenment had refused to permit Jewish emigration there during the 1938 Evian Conference, some 20,000 Holocaust survivors took refuge down under after the war.

“We are not an enemy people and we are not in Nazi concentration camps. Why should we then be treated as if we are?” —William Cooper