BOOK CLUB: Suffering, Redemption and Triumph

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Suffering, Redemption and Triumph by Peter Brune is an extensively researched historical account of immigration between 1946 and 1966. During this time, large numbers of displaced persons came to Australia to escape the horrors of World War II.

Peter has conducted 40 interviews over 20 years with immigrants from a range of European countries.

Through interviews, the immigrants shared their memories — before, during and after the war. They spoke about their reasons for choosing Australia, their arrival, and first impressions. Later, they talk about their experiences and feelings after many years here.

The interviews show diverse attitudes and perceptions of their experiences. The stories are varied.

Some immigrants complained of the Australian lack of culture and the infertile and limitless landscape. They felt that working-class Australians were jealous of immigrant success. That Australians haven’t understood their war experiences. The one I like the best is the independence of wives and their neglect of the art of homemaking. Australia was very different from their homelands.

Their interviews leave you moved by their resilience. They were prepared to do hard work, took challenges and had a desire to succeed. They have taken on an unfamiliar culture and language and made successful lives in their new country.

There are many interesting stories. I found the employment and workplace stories most interesting, particularly the history of the Foti family in Sydney. They are the family company who do the major events fireworks.

The collection of photos at the end of the book is a lovely personal touch, adding depth to the immigrants and their stories.

The book covers how the Australian Immigration policies came about and the politics of that era. Even how some Nazi war criminals used fake identities for a new start in Australia, slipping through the system.

It is important to have these stories documented as it is an important part of Australia’s history because immigrants have made Australia what it is today.

The book is well worth reading as it has given me a better understanding of immigration, how and why, and also of the people who made their home here.

The writing style is factual and easy to read and the interviews are conducted with respect.

The book will appeal to lovers of Australian history, and to anyone whose own family arrived in Australia during these years.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Suffering, Redemption and Triumph by Peter Brune. You can read their comments below or add your own review.

6 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Suffering, Redemption and Triumph

  1. I really had very little knowledge about immigration and the political aspects involved so I can honestly say I was enlightened and intrigued by how they have played a huge role in Australia’s history. During 1945 – 56 large numbers of Displaced Persons (referred to as DPs throughout the book) would immigrate to Australia in order to escape the horrors of war – torn Europe. The suffering, triumph and redemption of DPs was very real and indeed a core focus throughout the book. I really enjoyed reading the excerpts from interviews with the Displaced Person’s (DP) as they were insightful, authentic and so very raw. There was an expectation of the migrants to abandon their former sense of identity, family, language and culture which I (and am sure others) would find to be truly insensitive. A common thread between all interviewees was that the language barrier was the hardest obstacle for them to overcome when transitioning to a new life in a country that was foreign to them when embarking on a journey to build a new life.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace book club and Big Sky Publishing for my copy of Suffering, Redemption and Triumph.

  2. Suffering, Redemption and Triumph by Peter Brune gave me a wonderful insight into my own family heritage. Unfortunately I never got to meet these relatives and to read of their life struggle and the kind of suffering they would have endured was both enlightening and saddening.
    It is a wonderful exploration of a pivotal time in our Australian history and beautifully interwoven with insights from many wonderful people who are now truly Australian.
    Well done, Peter Brune, I enjoyed this immensely as it gave me a personal connection to my heritage.

  3. Suffering Redemption and Triumph by Peter Brune
    Between 1946 and 1966 large numbers of immigrants came to Australia to escape the war in Europe.
    A very in-depth book about the struggles the immigrants had during this horrific time.
    They came to Australia for a better quality of life .
    Australia needed to increase its population so what better way then to accept immigrants from all over Europe .
    They were given free housing and a job . They had to agree to a 2 year work agreement which they could be sent anywhere in Australia to work.
    But there were flaws in the system how many were eventually coming in that had committed war crimes .
    This a great book to read about Australian history and tells of how we have become Australia today .
    I am glad I was born after the war but still immigrated to Australia in 1976 but instead of ship we came by plane .
    It was very exciting and daunting as my parents left there family behind and started a new adventure.
    So I feel for the immigrants back when it was a very daunting time for them .
    Very informative and interesting
    Thankyou beauty and lace

  4. Whilst the story of the refugees during and after the war times appealed to me, I found that I struggled with the content.
    I realized I looked for the interviews with the people the author corresponded with and read those heartily. These were very interesting and I wanted to know more.

    I did persevere with the book but unfortunately I gave up half way thru as I found I was missing bits about war facts ( while I know these are relevant to the book, they just were not for me) and I usually find that I am thinking about the story, the events , the characters but I struggled to continue.
    I do wish to say Thank you to Peter Brune, however, for recording these interviews and for writing down their life events. This is so very important.

  5. Peter Brune should be congratulated on this mammoth effort to conduct and record interviews with more than 40 families, migrants from all over the world. There is also a brilliant analysis of the Chifley government’s mass immigration policies. As a child/teenager of this post war period between 1946 and 1966 when political correctness and racial tolerance were unheard of, I remember listening to derogatory comments and arguments related to the mass intake of new cultures. Basically, from what I experienced, a very one-sided perspective guided societal constructs around immigration.at that time. There were fears Australia would be overrun, the trauma of the 2nd World War was still painful and there was widespread fear of accepting people from other, unknown cultures. Reading “Suffering, Redemption and Triumph” has been an eye opener as it provides a heartwarming analysis of the other side of the picture. It was a difficult transition for many Australians but gradually over time, and with the initial basis mass immigration, Australia has become a multi-cultural society as we know and support it today.

  6. Thanks for the opportunity to read Peter Brune’s ‘Suffering, Redemption and Triumph’.

    Peter Brune is a highly respected historian and this shine through in this wonderful book. The stories of displaced persons (DPs) in Australia after World War II provides amazing insight into their suffering during the war and their journey and arrival (and their joy) to come to Australia​.

    The stories of the displaced people which are told in their own words provide such great messages and insight at a major moment of Australian history​ – and the making of Australia as a multicultural country.

    Suffering, Redemption and Triumph is an important book for anyone who want to understand modern Australian history and how immigration shaped the country in the mid 20th century.

    Thanks again for the opportunity to read this book!

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