SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — An Aboriginal man re-enacted his great-grandfather’s 1938 march to the German Consulate in Melbourne — the only known private protest against the Kristallnacht pogrom.
Kevin Russell led a group of Aborigines and Jews on the march Sunday to celebrate the memory of William Cooper, who as head of the Australian Aborigines League was denied entry to the consulate in 1938 to hand over a petition protesting the "cruel treatment of the Jews by the Nazis."
Cooper will be recognized officially this weekend with a chair for the Study of Resistance during the Holocaust, in tribute to William Cooper, with the support of the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange.
Rabbi Meir Shlomo Klugwant told the crowd that the Torah mandates that no one should stand idly by in the face of persecution.
Cooper’s grandson, Boydie Turner, said that “My grandfather had felt the pain and suffering of persecution and he could relate to what was happening in Europe to the Jews."
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry passed a motion last month at its annual conference lauding Cooper’s courage and calling upon the Australian government to "introduce a suitable form of national commemoration of the life and work of this great Australian.”
Russell said, "We thank the ECAJ for their recognition of my great-grandfather and their ongoing efforts to have William honored here in his own country in front of his own people."