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Visa issued to Arthur and Valerie Lederer

Date: 1938
Medium: Paper, photographs
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Walter and Jean Lederer Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Object Name: Visa
Object No: V00015962
Place Manufactured:Wien

User Terms

    This visa was issued to Arthur and Valerie Lederer in Vienna in 1938 and was only valid for a single journey to the United Kingdom. It was used by Lederer to get himself and his family out of jail following their first attempt to escape Austria. It was stamped by the Gestapo when they were released from jail on 31 March 1938.
    SignificanceThe story of the Lederer family provides a glimpse into the experiences of Vienna's Jewish population before World War II and illustrates the tortuous journey many emigrants were forced to endure in order to find safety.
    HistoryBorn in Vienna, Austria in 1889, Arthur Lederer was a talented tailor who made gala uniforms for Russian high society and royalty. On the eve of Adolf Hitler’s march into Vienna, Lederer was working on King Otto's crowning robes, believing that the monarch would return.

    Arthur Lederer, his wife Valerie and their son Walter attempted to escape Nazi-occupied Europe before the outbreak of World War II. Travelling from Vienna to the Austria-Czechoslovakia border by taxi, they were held up by the German Gestapo and thrown into jail. They were released after three days and returned home to Vienna as though nothing had happened.

    Four weeks later they again attempted to flee the escalating Jewish persecution. In December 1938 the Lederer family purchased passports and travelled by Austrian Airlines to Prague and was finally admitted into Czechoslovakia. The family was issued with 'Nansen passports', an internationally recognised identity card issued by the League of Nations, forerunner to the United Nations, for stateless refugees.

    Lederer appealed to his well-connected clients - established through his tailoring business - for help to escape. Most of his clients did not respond, fearing they would be caught by the Nazis and persecuted for assistance. The family appealed to the Countess Muriel Grafin Seherr-Thoss and Lady Max Muller for assistance. Muller, wife of the British ambassador to Spain, provided them with tickets to Australia and the £300 landing money required by the Australian Government.

    The family travelled to Australia on the Orient Liner SS ORAMA, which left Toulon, France on 17 June 1939. ORAMA stopped at Naples, Italy, Port Said, Egypt, Aden, Yemen and Colombo, Ceylon before arriving in Fremantle, Western Australia. From Fremantle the Lederers sailed to Sydney, where they began their new life in Australia.

    Walter Lederer remembers his time onboard SS ORAMA as the highlight of his journey to Australia. Travelling the five week voyage in tourist class, Walter recalls his family only dressed up for dinner on Saturday nights, unlike the wealthier classes who dressed up every night.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Visa issued to Arthur and Valerie Lederer


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