Elisabeth Holdsworth

Westerbork is the name of a transit camp located in the Netherlands. You transitioned from Westerbork to your final destination by means of the Nationale Spoorwegen (the national railways). Eddy de Wind, a Dutch Jewish psychiatrist, met his future wife, Friedel, in Westerbork. Both were sent to Auschwitz in 1943. Eddy was sent to Block 9 as part of the medical staff, Friedel to Block 10 to work as a Pfleger (nurse). Block 10 was administered by the Lagerartz (senior camp doctor), Josef Mengele.

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ABR RAFT Fellowship: 'If This Is a Jew' by Elisabeth Holdsworth

Elisabeth Holdsworth
Friday, 27 October 2017

For most of my life I have thought of myself as a secular Jew; fascinated by the turbulent history of the Jews, not part of synagogue life. All that changed in 2012. We were living in Goulburn, New South Wales, at the time. My husband was on the point of retirement and we were about to move back to Victoria. During winter ...

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Towards the end of this handsome work, Mark Dapin makes the following observation: ‘There are many more holocaust memoirs written by Jews who emigrated from Europe to Australia than there are personal histories of Australian-born or raised Jewish soldiers. Everywhere in the world the Jewish story is focussed on persecution – the plight of refugees; the unspeakab ...

News from the Editor's desk - April 2017

Australian Book Review
Thursday, 23 March 2017

Fellowships galore

Elisabeth Holdsworth photograph by Antonio Mendes Macmillan 250

Valerie Murray, born Valika Morelli in Hungary during World War II and, for the past half century, wife of poet Les Murray, has written an enchanting memoir of her early life in Europe and Australia. The description ‘enchanting’ is used deliberately. The brothers Grimm and their terrifying tales are deployed throughout the work. The metaphor extends to the writi ...

'An die Nachgeborenen: For those who come after'

Elisabeth Holdsworth
Wednesday, 07 January 2015

‘Welcome to the Netherlands!’ the sign says in Dutch and English. The Schipol customs official inspects my Australian passport. ‘Nederlands geboren,’ he sniffs. ‘Zo je komt terug.’ So you’ve come back, he adds, in a tone suggesting that I might have left something behind minutes ago, rather ...

Elisabeth Holdsworth reviews 'For the Patriarch' by Angelo Loukakis

Elisabeth Holdsworth
Tuesday, 27 September 2011

For the Patriarch first appeared in 1981 and was much lauded, winning a New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award. The work is an important landmark in migrant writing. Angelo Loukakis, although born in Australia, identifies with the first generation of post-World War II migrants who are under-represented in our literature. Their children and grandchildren are the ones who have engage ...

The title of this new book on the Vietnam War comes from the final verse cycle of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King (1869). As Arthur lies dying, he reflects ‘that we / Shall never more ... Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds’. This Arthurian borrowing for the title of a book about an obscure battle fought by Australians in Vietnam during the 19 ...

Wirklich, ich lebe in finsteren Zeiten. 
(Truly, I live in dark times.)

When her mother uttered that line from Bertolt Brecht’s great poem ‘An die Nachgeborenen’, Juliana – the narrator of Elisabeth Holdsworth’s first novel – knew they were in for a hard time. Janna had returned to the Netherlands from Da ...