Either Lost or Found? A Child’s Story from a WWII Australian Internment Camp - Professor Pedram Khosronejad and Mrs Helga (Girschik) Griffin

Event Name
Either Lost or Found? A Child’s Story from a WWII Australian Internment Camp - Professor Pedram Khosronejad and Mrs Helga (Girschik) Griffin
1 June 2023
04:00 pm - 05:00 pm
Parramatta City Campus

Address (Room): Level 9, Conference room 2 (PC-01.9.16)


In-Person / Online

As many as 50,000 German, Italian, and Japanese civilians were sent to Internment camps in Australia during WWII. Until today, the lives and fates of 512 German civilians of Persia (Iran), the imprisoned inhabitants of Australian World War II confinement centres, and the roles that they and their family members played in the development of post-war Australia has been ignored by academia.

Professor Pedram Khosronejad and Mrs Helga (Girschik) Griffin present the findings of a research project which explores the socio-cultural history and memories of a group of civilian German detainees and migrants in Australia through their heritage and the roles that they played in the development of the country after World War II.  This presentation is the result of a four year collaboration between Professor Khosronejad and Mrs Helga (Girschik) Griffin, the only surviving female among the civilian Germans from Persia (Iran) who were brought to Australia as families and allegedly kept in detention, but actually lived like prisoners in Tatura’s Internment Camp No. 3 (1941-46).

The daughter of an Austrian railway engineer working in Iran (1936-41), Helga was aged six when, with her parents and younger brother, she became a captive of the British Army’s invasion of that politically neutral country in 1941. Her family was evicted from Iran and sent by sea to a WWII prison camp at a secret destination. Her family’s internment in Australia’s Camp 3, Tatura, in north-western Victoria, lasted five years. Helga’s story represents a rare opportunity to hear a first-hand account of a young female’s experiences arriving in Australia by boat as a stateless refugee and being placed in detention for an unforeseeable time. She is the only surviving female from 512 civilian Germans detained in Iran who were taken into Australian WWII internment prison camps.

The research project investigates whether the concept of internment is a polite euphemism to disguise the political actuality of civilians being treated like prisoners without any political or moral conviction. Helga’s so-called internment was associated with life threatening danger during transportation, long-term detention in an antagonistic political environment, and the fracture of a child’s normal development. It is questionable whether such violations of Human Rights are excusable in the interest of a foreign neutral country’s national security during a time of war.

This event also includes an exhibition curated by Professor Pedram Khosronejad displaying some of the objects from Mrs Griffin’s family collection from their internment periods in Tatura Internment prison camp.

After the event, Mrs Helga (Girschik) Griffin will be signing copies of her book "At Home in Exile", which will be available to purchase for $44. Please bring exact change.

Registrations for this Hybrid event are essential: https://westernsydney.libcal.com/event/5532195

Speakers: Professor Pedram Khosronejad and Mrs Helga (Girschik) Griffin

Web page: https://westernsydney.libcal.com/event/5532195

Name: Emma Boddington


Phone: 02 9852 5902

School / Department: Library