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Lace handkerchief, belonging to Valerie Lederer

Date: pre 1939
Overall: 257 x 265 mm
Medium: Lace, fabric
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Walter and Jean Lederer Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Object Name: Handkerchief
Object No: 00015910

User Terms

    As the scale of Nazi persecution against the Jews escalated prior to World War II, Arthur Lederer and his family fled from Austria to Australia via Czechoslovakia and Great Britain. The family took few personal belongings with them. This lace handkerchief with a pale blue star in the centre belonged to his wife Valerie Lederer. It was one of the good luck charms Valerie carried during her journey to Australia.
    SignificanceThe story of the Lederer family provides a glimpse into the experiences of Jewish people in Vienna prior to the outbreak of World War II and illustrates the tortuous journey many Jewish emigrants were forced to endure in order to flee to safety.
    HistoryBorn in Vienna, Austria in 1889, Arthur Lederer was a talented tailor who made gala uniforms for European royalty and high society. On the eve of Adolf Hitler’s march into Vienna in March 1938, Lederer was working on Archduke Otto of Austria’s crowning robes, believing that the exiled monarch would return.

    In November 1938 Arthur Lederer, his wife Valerie and their son Walter attempted to escape the escalating Jewish persecution in Nazi-occupied Austria. They travelled by taxi from Vienna to the Austria-Czechoslovakia border but were held up by the German Gestapo and thrown into jail. They were released after three days and returned home to Vienna.

    Four weeks later they made another attempt to escape. The family purchased passports in December 1938 and travelled by Austrian Airlines to Prague, Czechoslovakia. The League of Nations (forerunner to the United Nations) issued them with Nansen passports, an internationally recognised identity card provided to stateless refugees.

    Arthur then started appealing to his well-connected clients for help to escape Europe. Most clients did not respond, perhaps fearing they would be persecuted by the Nazis for assisting Jews. Eventually Lady Max Muller, wife of the British Ambassador to Spain, provided them with tickets to Australia and the £300 arrival money required by the Australian Government.

    The family travelled to Australia on the Orient liner SS ORAMA, which departed 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.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Lady's Lace Handkerchief

    Web title: Lace handkerchief, belonging to Valerie Lederer

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