The papers of MS 8869 are divided into two parts: 1. Papers of Bern Brent's parents, Helene and Otto Bernstein, include early family papers; poems by Otto Bernstein; papers relating to childhood; imprisonment in Siberia and escape, World War I; Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, World War II.
2. Papers of Bern Brent include family correspondence 1920s-1960s (some of which is in German), particularly during World War II when family members were separated in Australia, United Kingdom, Germany and the United States; papers relating to the voyage on the "Dunera", 1940; papers relating to the Hay and Tatura Internment Camps, Australia, including poems, diary, sketches, correspondence, publications; teaching materials and research documenting the direct method of teaching English to migrants in Australia, and teaching methods in Europe and Southeast Asia; publications by Brent including articles, book reviews and his book My Berlin suitcase: memories of a childhood (9 boxes, 1 fol. item).
The Acc09.076 instalment comprises material largely relating to Brent's wartime experiences as a child deportee on the "Dunera", subsequent experiences as an internee in Australia and activities of the Dunera boys since. It includes issues of "Dunera news"; family, personal and official correspondence; research material; reminiscences of David Hackel; notes relating to an interview about the "Dunera" by Fay Castle; papers of Helene Bernstein; Brent's personal papers; genealogical papers; and, lists of Dunera boys (3 boxes).
The Acc09.077 instalment comprises photocopies of papers dating from a period of internment in the Tatura Internment Camps Nos. 3 and 4. They comprise notes Brent made whilst studying for an engineering qualification and the Victorian Leaving Certificate examinations (1 packet).
The Acc09.163 instalment comprises two telegrams from Gerd Bernstein (Bern Brent) to Lola Bernstein, August 1939, and an original photograph of Gerd Bernstein (Bern Brent) taken by an Army photographer, Tatura, September 1940 (1 folder).
The Acc09.209 instalment includes correspondence in English and German on topics including internment in Hay and Tatura camps, Kindertransport reunions, Gulf War, German and Jewish museums and archives; a photograph album and reminiscences documenting the last years of Brent's father's life in St Kilda; teaching materials from Brent's posting to Vietnam as lecturer in education, University of Saigon; drafts and correspondence relating to the book My Berlin suitcase; subject files on topics including Berlin Quakers, Saigon University, oral history interview with National Museum of Australia, Volkmarsen (birthplace of parents), poetry by Brent, father's imprisonment in Theresienstadt; and, family history material (11 boxes).
The Acc10.063 instalment comprises chapter 2 of Brent's account of his internment (1 folder).
The Acc12.103 instalment comprises material largely relating to Brent's wartime experiences as a child deportee on the "Dunera" and his experiences as an internee in Australia. Included are poems, copies of newspaper articles, issues of the "Dunera news" and other newsletters, correspondence, pamphlets and memoirs (some in German). A number of papers contain annotations by Brent. The papers also include correspondence between Brent and the National Library, copies of a presentation titled ''The Dunera letters" by Penny Grist and a booklet of print labels from the "The Dunera boys: seventy years on" exhibition, held at the National Library in 2010 (1 packet).
Educator. Born Gerd Hermann Bernstein in Zagreb in 1922, Bern Gerald Brent moved to Berlin with his parents in 1925. He was a student at the Goethe Gymnasium, Wilmersdorf, 1933-1938, and a member of the Berlin Quaker's Youth Group, 1936-1938. In December 1938 he went to England as a refugee where he was interned in June 1940. He was deported to Australia on the "Dunera", and detained in the Tatura and Hay Internment Camps until his release in January 1942. Brent served in the Australian Army from April 1942 until January 1946. In 1946-1948 Brent undertook studies at the University of Melbourne and graduated as a Bachelor of Arts. He entered employment as an instructor, district supervisor and shipboard education officer. He worked as an advisory teacher in Geneva between 1949 and 1956.
Following postgraduate studies at the University of Sydney, Brent worked as a secondary school teacher in Sydney in 1958, and, in the same year, married Jean Lloyd Siddins. Under the Colombo Plan he lectured at Saigon University, 1959-1962, and was senior lecturer at Gaya Teachers' College, Sabah, Malaysia, from 1963-1967. In 1971 Brent graduated with a Master of Education degree from the University of Sydney. He worked in the Australian Public Service between 1968 and 1979, in the Department of Education and Science, Australian Development Assistance Agency and the Department of Foreign Affairs. In 2000 Brent published his memoir My Berlin suitcase: memories of a childhood.