Gertie Gellinek

“Every house was occupied with Shanghai refugees and that is how we settled in Bronte.”

I was born in Vienna, Austria in 1925.
My mother, brother, husband and I arrived in Australia in 1949.

Coming to Australia

There is a street in Bronte, it's called Palmerston Avenue. They had built new flats  at that time and one refugee told the other one, "There is a flat for key money available," so we brought a little bit of money and my husband was able to put down the key money. It became the Shanghai Village. Every house was occupied with Shanghai refugees and that is how we settled in Bronte.

Not so much religion but tradition

I might have mentioned that we were not very religious, pretty assimilated in Vienna, but we kept the High Holy days, Passover and the New Year and the fasting day, these are the three main holy days I was taught, as a child, to keep. Exactly what my mother did, I am doing, my daughter took over now, she married a Jewish boy, and this is what we keep. Out of, maybe not so much religion, but tradition. It's tradition.

Key Migration Wave – Shanghai Jews

The majority of Jewish migrants from Shanghai were originally from continental Europe. At the end of World War II, the Chinese Nationalists demanded the expulsion of these stateless Jews, few of whom wished to return to Europe. In total, it is estimated that approximately 2,500 Jews migrated from Shanghai to Australia between 1945 and 1953.

Listen to Gertie's Eat, Pray, Naches stories

Full transcript available her

After Adolf Hitler annexed Austria in World War II, Gertie, as a young girl, with her family left for China. She met her husband Willy in Shanghai and when her husband found a way to migrate to Australia, Gertie said "we come as a package deal".  So Gertie, her family and her new husband all came to Australia together.


Vienna Schnitzel is Gertie's favourite food. Her mother, who was a good cook would do a great schnitzel along with other continental food that they grew up with. In Australia they still ate continental food but Gertie also enjoys other foods. She believes we all learn from each other.


Gertie believes the Jewish tradition to be a decent honest person, not to offend anybody or to make any difference between people, as well as keep the High Holidays and be a proud Jewish person, are the most important things.


Gertie tell us about being a survivor guide at the Sydney Jewish Museum, telling school children her story, what happened and that it should never happen again.