Comments > Snadbeetle and the Dunera

Dear Zina,

I have just come across your book the Sandbeetle which I have ordered. I am an Australian musicologist and have become interested in the way in which WWII migration has formed Sydney's musical culture. I was very interested in the fact that Peter Stadlen had come to Australia on the Dunera. How interesting it would have been if he had stayed! Do you by any chance know when he returned? Stadlen is a musician I have long admired and the thought that he came here is intriguing. I know that as soon as soon as Major Julian Layton came out in 1941, arrangements were made to fix up the situation and that some returned home in 1941 even though shipping was scares due to the war and U boat dangers. I look forward to getting your book.
Peter McCallum

April 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeter McCallum

Dear Peter,
As it happens I got some early documents from Peter Stadlen when I was writing the book. He was already suffering from some form of dementia or at least memory loss when I met him in 1990, and his wife Hedi, to whom he turned all the time for confirmation of his memories. She kept saying to him,'I wasn't there. I don't know.'
As far as I know there was some sort of campaign mounted by Schoenberg to have Stadlen brought back to the UK. As you may know he developed arthritis in his hands and could no longer play the piano and so became a music critic for, I believe, the Daily Telegraph. I think he has sons who are around and who might be able to give you more detail of the exact date that he came back, which I am afraid I don't know.
My understanding about the return of people who were on the Dunera was that there was pressure on the British Government to petition for their release by people such as Michael Foot, then a young journalist. But when finally approaches were made to the Australian government, they were rebuffed on the grounds that the prisoners had been described as dangerous by the British and there was no way the Australian Government would consider letting them go. It was only with Pearl Harbour that things changed. Those individuals who were prepared to join the Pioneer Corps in Australia could be freed, as could the rest to set off for the UK on unescorted ships. Some of these ships did not make it home, but were torpedoed.
Best wishes

May 2, 2015 | Registered CommenterZina Rohan