Robert Salter Collection
Image: Postcard - SS Niew Zeeland, 1938
Source: Museum Victoria
This collection provides a potent symbol of the Jewish refugee experience just prior to World War II, one of the most prominent examples of global displacement. The trunk, overcoat and documents represent the desperate journeys and applications for assistance made by innumerable European Jews just before the outbreak of the war. The menus, postcard and souvenir map record Robert Salter's own sea journey, which he undertook despite not having secured admission to Australia. The correspondence is a moving account of Robert's determined efforts to obtain Australian residency for himself, his fiancee and his parents from Nazi-controlled Austria to Australia, before the Australian Government stopped accepting small numbers of Jewish refugees from Europe. Letters illustrate support Robert received from some government representatives to secure his family's safety. The trunk also represents the efforts made by migrants to create new lives for themselves with few material goods.