Diane Armstrong

“My father was thrilled that we were living in a tolerant, egalitarian country where a train driver had become prime minister.”

I was born in Krakow, Poland in 1939.
My mother, father and I arrived in Australia in November 1948.

Coming to Australia

My father was thrilled that we were living in a tolerant, egalitarian country where a train driver had become prime minister. That was Ben Chifley. After my father died, in 1978, when I went through his papers, I found the copy of a letter he'd written to the then minister for immigration, Harold Holt after being naturalised. "I know I'm not expected to reply,’ he wrote, "but I wanted to say what a privilege it is to become an Australian citizen. That's an honour I'll cherish for the rest of my life."

A cracker of a night

My first vivid memory of Bondi Junction was Cracker Night. It was Empire Day, the 24th of May and we had just arrived in Sydney. There was a huge bonfire blazing in the middle of the street and everybody was outside. The kids were running around whooping and letting off fireworks and the adults were helping. I had never seen anything like it, never felt such a lively, friendly atmosphere. And that became symbolic of life in Australia. It was lighthearted, bright, friendly and welcoming.

Key Migration Wave - Holocaust Survivors

Australia has been the refuge for more Holocaust survivors per capita than any other country, apart from Israel. The Close Relatives Reunion Scheme after World War II allowed Holocaust survivors to enter on the basis of having family that already resided within Australia. There were a total of 27,000 Holocaust survivors in Australia who arrived between 1945-1961. With the passage of time, only a few are still with us, but their children and grandchildren are carrying on their legacy.

Listen to Diane's Eat, Pray, Naches stories

Full Transcript available here

Diane was born in Poland and tells of her family needing to hide their identities during the war and how they finally made their way to Australia.


Diane's mother was a very good cook of Polish and Jewish food, however they were careful not to cook Jewish food while they were hiding during the war as they were not able to say they were Jewish.


When Diane first arrived in Australia, she didn't really have very much connection with the Jewish community or with Jewish traditions. However being a child Holocaust survivor being Jewish was very important to her, and important to her to raise her children so that they would never lose their Jewish identity.


Diane derives great naches from her family and also through her life as a writer of many published books.