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Bern Brent interviewed by Ann-Mari Jordens in the Dunera Boys oral history project [sound recording]
Bib ID 4932273
Format AudioAudio [sound recording]
Brent, Bern, 1922-, Interviewee
Access Conditions Written permission required for research, personal copies and public use. 
Description 2010 
13 sound files (ca. 859 min.) 

Dunera Boys oral history project.


Bern Brent talks about his early life; leaving the Balkans for Berlin; his secondary schooling under Nazism; becoming an apprentice instrument maker; emigrating on Kindertransport, leaving Germany, arriving in England, camp and hostel accommodation; his mother's escape to England; his father's and other family members' fate during war; being an 'enemy alien' in Britain; internment; leaving England on the “Dunera”, treatment by crew, medical care; arriving in Melbourne, the journey to Tatura, first impressions, separating Nazis from anti-Nazis, teachers and memorable internees, escapes, trades and professions of internees, camp conflicts; studying for the Leaving Certificate; his release from Tatura; joining the Army (1942), army life, demobilization; enrolling at Melbourne University; his Commonwealth scholarship, citizenship; father and mother's migration and settlement; changing his name; teaching English at Bathurst Migrant Reception and Training Centre; the Bathurst camp; Holding Centres; working at head office Sydney, Commonwealth Office of Education; reunion with his mother (1950).

Brent discusses the supervising, recruiting and training migrant English teachers in the Snowy Mountains region for the NSW Department of Education (1952); the early years of skiing in the Snowy Mountains; becoming a Shipboard Education Officer, Department of Immigration, duties, classes, instructors; Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, training its English teachers in Geneva and Greece; leaving the Department of Immigration; studying at Sydney University, Diploma of Education; his appointment as Lecturer in English as a foreign language in Saigon University (1958-62); the Australian-funded Ben Cat Dairy; return to Australia: teaching English in North Borneo Teacher's College (1963-67); return to Australia 1968, joining the Commonwealth Department of Education and Science, Canberra; White Australia Policy; studying Masters of Education Sydney University; his duties in International Education Branch, Department of Education and Science, Canberra (1968-80); the transfer of International Education Section to Department of Foreign Affairs (1972); working under the Whitlam and Fraser governments; his retirement 1980.


"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."


Recorded on 18th and 20th May 2010 and 6th, 8th and 14th July 2010 and 10th August 2010 at the National Library of Australia, A.C.T.

Digital master available National Library of Australia;

Related Material Portrait of Bern Brent, a Dunera boy, at the National Library of Australia, 18 May 2010; located at; National Library of Australia Pictures collection PIC Online access #NL40246/3 
Index/Finding Aid Note Timed summary (10 p.) 
Subjects Brent, Bern, 1922- -- Interviews.  |  Dunera (Ship)  |  Educators -- Australia -- Interviews.  |  Prisoners of war -- Germany -- Interviews.  |  Prisoners of war -- Victoria -- Tatura -- Interviews.  |  Prisoners of war -- New South Wales -- Hay -- Interviews.  |  World War, 1939-1945 -- Refugees.  |  World War, 1939-1945 -- Prisoners and prisons, Australian.
Occupation Internees.  |  Educators.
Other authors/contributors Jordens, Ann-Mari, 1940-, Interviewer


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    Details Collect From
    ORAL TRC 6225/1
    Copy: Recording
    Special Collections Reading Room
    ORAL TRC 6225/1 (summary)
    Copy: Summary
    Special Collections Reading Room

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