My father, Johann Pistori, was on the Dunera as one those being interned in Australia.

Born in Vienna in 1922 and a Roman Catholic, his Mother and all her family were Jewish with a brother who was a trade unionist and a leading member of the Social Democrats .  He had been imprisoned for his beliefs as part of “Red Vienna” in 1934 and the party were banned under Hitler. His father died in 1938 and took with him the protection of his own religion. From that day on the family suffered the persecution that was suffered by all Jews in Austria and more especially in Vienna.

Thanks to the Quakers my father obtained a visa enabling him to come to the UK as an agricultural worker. Enough of a shock for this very academic city boy but at least a chance for life. .  Soon after his life was to change once again. In June 1940 a police officer arrived in Pudsey, Yorkshire where he lived and he was taken into custody in Harrogate and transferred to Liverpool and then to the Isle of Man until, on the 10th July 1940 he boarded the Dunera.

My father suffered dysentry and almost died in the awful conditions aboard ship.  Fortunately an Italian doctor, a survivor of the Arandora Star, took pity on the boy with the Italian name and nursed him back to health.

He was good friends with the Wolkenstein brothers and also the rest of their family.  After the war their father, Fortunat interceded with the Austrian embassy to enable him the keep his nationality in spite of the fact that my father had fought in the British Army after his return from Australia firstly as a Desert Rat in the Sharpshooters and later in Intelligence doing de – Nazifications.

57 Days of Hell — The Voyage of HMT Dunera, 1940

A while ago I was looking for more information about the Dunera and what happened aboard and during trips. I knew a little about the “Australian connection” and The Dunera Boys, but had no real indepth knowledge. I think the … Read More Here!