Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Margaret Joan Holmes

Interviewed by Margaret Holgate on 17 November 2000

Margaret Holmes. The other thing was the influx of the refugees from Hitler that came to Mosman during the 1930s.

Margaret Holgate. What dates would that be?

Margaret Holmes. As I said earlier on, we started to have our own home here in 1935, so it would have been after that we started to have a Club – about 1937, I think. We started to have a Club for – we called it ‘the 50/50 Club’ because we thought 50% of the members would be old Australians, and 50% would be what we called, new Australians then, or reffos, as they were called, refugees from Hitler. We wanted to help the new Australians to get to know some local people. I don’t quite know why so many refugees came to Mosman. Actually, my husband was one of the people who sponsored some quite well known Austrian medical people. I think they might even have been medical Professors, they were very high up medical people who had wanted to come here and practice to get away from Hitler, and my husband and other Drs had sort of sponsored them, because we felt they needed to be helped to get away from the persecution that was going on. So some of them had actually come to live in Mosman, but as well as that there were simply dozens and dozens of refugee people. Would you like me to tell you anything about them?

Margaret Holgate. Yes I would, and they all came to Mosman? I don’t mean all, but a lot of them.

Margaret Holmes. A great many came to Mosman. I suppose, once one or two had come…

Margaret Holgate. ….were they all ages, families or…

Margaret Holmes. ….no, well yes, they were all ages. I think I’ll just tell you about a few that I remember well. There was a Professor Freidlander and his wife. He was a medical Professor from Germany, not Austria actually. They had a home in Mosman. These people mostly seemed to have some money. They’d been able to get out some money, I don’t know how, and a lot of them had brought items, like Persian rugs. Now the Freidlander’s in their home, they had layers of Persian rugs on their floor, not just one rug, but perhaps two or three and even had a Persian rug draped over the sofa, or over the piano, or something, because this was the kind of thing they could bring you see?