Can there be new facts about the holocaust? This is one of those rare holocaust narratives of resistance to the holocaust by Australian Aborigines – a world away from the fray.
They were not even citizens in their own land but, after Kristallnacht, made a brave stand. William Cooper led the Australian Aborigines League in a protest against Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass, which resulted in shattered lives and was recognised as the start of the Holocaust.
They protested the “cruel persecution of the Jews” by marching to the German Consulate in Melbourne on 6 December 1938 three weeks after the 9-10 November pogrom in Germany, Austria and Sudetenland that saw 91 Jews killed, Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues destroyed with shattered glass or fire. About 30,00 Jews were sent to concentration camps.
This book follows how the story was lost to history and then found with William Cooper being honoured in many ways by Jews in Australia and at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center in Israel. His family has carried on his legacy and the story covers his family’s trip to Israel and Berlin in 2017 to continue his work.
Of holocaust books, it has a twist. Aboriginal William Cooper was a noted civil rights leader for his people but the only protest march he led was for the Jews. Read this inspiriting story. This book has facts about the holocaust that will be new and startling to you but it adds to the history on Jews and the history of Australian Aborigines.
This book covers his story and his grandson’s work to fulfill his unfinished dreams and how he has been honoured in Australia and Israel, even having a federal Australian electorate named after him and an Academic Chair of Resistance to the Holocaust named after him at Yad Vashem.
Australian Aboriginal William Cooper has been described as Australia’s Martin Luther King Jnr, Mandela, Gandhi or even an Aboriginal Moses by various commentators.
“I think of the great Jewish leader Moses as he stood on Mt Nebo in present-day Jordan and looked at the Promised Land which he was prevented from entering (but he led others to enter in)… In Martin Luther King Jnr’s famous speech “I have a dream, made in 1963 in Washington, we see how he paved a path for Black Americans to freedom, equality and human dignity. But he was cruelly gunned down before he saw it achieved… William Cooper … was not there to see his dreams come true, though most of what he worked for has been achieved in succeeding generations.” Barbara Miller, White Australia Has A Black History.
“… an indigenous man who too did not enjoy full rights in the country of his birth, should have found it within himself to stand up for the plight of Jewish People. That man was William Cooper and I do not think it inappropriate to refer to him as the Martin Luther King of Australia.” Rob Schneider, CEO Australian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
“… by the Ti-kun Olam he (William Cooper) constantly demonstrated, together with the leadership of delivering his people to their ‘promised land’ of civil rights, human rights and land rights – I believe make him a contender for the title of ‘The Aboriginal Moses’.” Abe Schwarz, Convenor William Cooper Legacy Project
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Barbara is a historian, pastor, mediator, psychologist, sociologist, teacher, social justice advocate and sought-after speaker. She lives in Cairns, Australia with her husband Norman, an Aboriginal artist and pastor. They founded the Centre for International Reconciliation and Peace in 1998 and travel widely overseas speaking at conferences including 10 trips to Israel facilitating Christian conferences and leading tour groups. She has been recognised by Who’s Who for her international humanitarian work.
Her memoir White Woman Black Heart: Journey Home to Old Mapoon was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards in 2018 for the main prize, the Queensland Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance.
Barbara’s first book on the Holocaust was the biography called William Cooper, Gentle Warrior: Standing Up for Indigenous Australians and Persecuted Jews in 2012. Cooper was a Christian Aboriginal Australian who, as well as being an activist for his people, led one of the few private protests worldwide against Kristallnacht in 1938.
Barbara’s own history of activism and her work for Aboriginal organisations such as the North Queensland Land Council which she helped establish in 1975 and the Aboriginal Coordinating Council (ACC) of which she was CEO in the 1990s, have given her an insider’s view. The ACC was a statutory body representing remote Aboriginal local government councils. She wrote The Dying Days of Segregation in Australia: Case Study Yarrabah detailing the work of Aborigines to get human rights, land rights and local government.
If I Survive: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 100-year-old Lena Goldstein’s Miracle Story is Barbara’s second book on the Holocaust and is a gripping biography of a Warsaw Ghetto survivor.
Barbara has just published a book called White Australia Has A Black History: William Cooper and First Nations Peoples’ Political Activism. He was a pioneer of the Aboriginal movement for civil rights and shaped Australia’s political activism, building a platform for following generations who he mentored. The book covers Indigenous efforts to secure human rights right up to 2019 including current calls for Voice, Treaty, Truth.
Her seventh book is the one you are holding and it brings the story up to December 2019 of the honouring of William Cooper and the Australian Aborigines’ League who he led on a protest to the German Consulate in Melbourne in 1938 re Kristallnacht. It weaves in Australia’s reaction to Evian and Jewish refugees and the Cooper family’s efforts to keep his legacy going.