Australia and the Modern World – World War II

Program Description

Man from the depression

Students will learn about the interwar years with presenters talking to them about the Great Depression, its economic effects both in Australia and abroad and the impact it had on the Australian way of life. With the people unsettled and unsure of their Governments abilities to look after them, they started looking for other ways of governance, a ‘New Way’. Unfortunately though, some of these fresh, new ideas and theories were going to ultimately prove more extreme than others.

A National Socialist Brown Shirt, Henry Hartmann, portrayed by one of our presenters, was born in Australia to German parents who moved the family back to Germany before the outbreak of WWI. He will talk about the aftermath of The Great War, the ‘war to end all wars’, and what life was like for his family. He will discuss with students what appears to be the impending failure of Capitalism and Democracy and the rise of Communism and Fascism, emphasising the apparent benefits of ‘strong leadership’ and ‘struggle’ that are leading Germany to a brighter future. In character, Henry then urges the students to think about these benefits when it comes time to choose how Australia will be governed in the future.

Our presenter will appear on stage as a ‘Rat of Tobruk’, one of the Australian soldiers based in Libya at the beginning of the war. He will explain why Australia chose to enter into World War II after Hitler’s invasion of Poland and the reasons why Australia was eager to fight again. He will focus on the Australians experiences of desert war, their observations and thoughts about the Italians and Germans and, of course, the Siege of Tobruk. He also shares his worries about news he is hearing from friends and family at home of a new enemy rising much closer to home.

The students will be addressed by our presenter portraying a sergeant from an intelligence office talking about his new task after being brought home from Africa: dislodging the Japanese from New Guinea. He will point out how Australia’s political relationships have shifted with our previously tight-knit alliance with England becoming more distant while our friendship with the United States of America warms up. This is expanded upon within the context of our Prime Minister, John Curtin, needing to get Australian troops home to defend our country. Jungle conditions and the unforgiving, brutal nature of the conflict in New Guinea will be described and the outstanding aid of the locals, particularly on the Kokoda Track, will also be discussed.

The sombre story of the Holocaust (Shoah) will be told through the eyes of a Nuremberg Prosecutor. Portrayed by one of our presenters he will take a detailed look at this dark period of history from the setting of the prosecution of key figures in the Nazi regime. He will also discuss the birth of the United Nations, its role in protecting human rights and its ambition to become a world peace keeping and policing force.