Victorian Association of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women Australia Incorporated

Founding Member General Sir John Monash GCMG KCB VD

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Sunday, 15 November 2015 17:29

New WWI & WWII Victorian Jewish Memorial Unveiled

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New WWI & WWII Victorian Jewish Memorial Unveiled 15 November 2015

November 2011 was the last Remembrance Day Commemoration service held at the Melbourne General Cemetery at our Historic Memorial known as "The Obelisk." Our ageing veterans found it too far to travel.

After more than two years research by President Judy Landau, it was proven that 15 WWI names on the Historic Memorial were not Jewish or were not found as casualties. Therefore were not included on the new Memorial. Those on the Historic Memorial who, during the research period, were not found to have a connection with Victoria, were included on the new Memorial as there was a possibility that the connection was there but not found at the time. Twenty two newly discovered WWI names were added.

It was proven that one WWII name on the Historic Memorial was not Jewish. Therefore was not included on the new Memorial. Those on the Historic Memorial who, during the research period, were not found to have a connection with Victoria, were included on the new Memorial as there was a possibility that the connection was there but not found at the time. Sixteen newly discovered WWII names were added.

OFFICIAL WELCOME BY DR JUDY LANDAU, President VAJEX Australia

Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.

This service is different from any that my generation has seen before. I won’t be acknowledging our honoured guests by name as would normally be done, because today’s event is to honour the names of the fallen Victorian-connected Jewish heros of WWI and WWII.

The acknowledgements that need mentioning right now are of the generous major sponsors who enabled this magnificent Memorial to be constructed.

THE PRATT FOUNDATION

ANZAC CENTENARY LOCAL GRANTS PROGRAM FROM MELBOURNE PORTS ELECTORATE

MARC BESEN AC & EVA BESEN AO

I offer to the sponsors, the grateful thanks of the community which includes the bereaved families of our fallen, whose names are etched onto the Monument.

Thank you to the CoPP and Heritage Victoria for offering the site for the Memorial and thanks to Advanced Stone for the fabulous job you have done in making and erecting the Monument.

Looking around, I see the faces of some family members of the men behind the names on the memorial. There is a son representing his father from Sydney whose brother was a WWII casualty; a son whose father is buried in New Guinea; a nephew whose uncle is buried in New Guinea; great nieces and nephews whose fallen are buried in far away places such as Gallipoli and France; we have two first cousins twice removed here, of an unrecovered war casualty on the verge of being identified, having been KIA at Fromelles and buried in a mass grave; 3rd St Kilda scouts are present to honour the memories of their ten former scouts who didn’t come home. Wesley College staff are here with a wreath containing many names from both World Wars and Melbourne Law School representatives have come to honour one of their fallen graduates.

These are but a few bereaved families and groups demonstrating that this Memorial is a vital link for many, and relevant to us even though it is so long ago when those memorialised were tragically killed. It also paints a picture of the devastation and grief that our small community suffered and still suffers and struggles, with the losses. 

Unlike today, the bodies of our dead from both World Wars were not repatriated back home, so for the vast majority, there are no graves in Melbourne to visit for remembrance and mourning. Until now, all these families had was the historic Memorial at the Melbourne General Cemetery (which from my in depth research, uncovered that it was missing many names). Now this twin Memorial is updated and very much closer to where we live, and is a place where families and friends of our fallen can come to honour the memories of our own who did not come home.

The men behind the names. We will remember you!

Lest We Forget

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