White Russians, Red Peril

More than 20,000 ethnic Russians migrated to Australia after the Second World War – yet we know very little about their experiences.

Many preferred to keep a low profile in Australia, and some tried to ‘pass’ as Polish, West Ukrainian or Yugoslavian. They had good reason to do so: to the Soviet Union, Australia’s resettling of Russians amounted to the theft of its citizens, and undercover agents were deployed to persuade them to repatriate.

At the same time, Australia regarded the newcomers with wary suspicion, even as it sought to build its population by opening its doors to immigrants.

ACU’s Professor Sheila Fitzpatrick has published a new book uncovering the history of Russian migration to Australia. White Russians, Red Peril: A Cold War History of Migration to Australia is published by La Trobe University Press.

Making use of newly discovered Russian-language archives and drawing on a lifetime’s study of Soviet history and politics, Professor Fitzpatrick examines the early years of a diverse Russian-Australian community and how Australian and Soviet intelligence agencies attempted to track and influence them.

While anti-communist ‘White’ Russians dreamed a war of liberation would overthrow the Soviet regime, a dissident minority admired its achievements and thought of returning home.

Professor Sheila Fitzpatrick is a member of ACU’s Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences is internationally renowned for her work on Soviet history. Her books include Beyond Totalitarianism, Everyday Stalinism, Stalin’s Peasants, My Father’s Daughter, Mischka’s War, On Stalin’s Team and The Russian Revolution.

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