"The aboriginal who stood up to Hitler".
William Cooper couldn’t be more Australian. He was a Yorta-Yorta speaking, Bangerang man, born by the banks of the Murray River in 1860. A shearer, a writer, a public speaker and, by the time he died in 1941, a political leader who could successfully demand a face-to-face meeting with the Prime Minister. As a man in his 70s, he started Australia’s fi rst indigenous justice movement – the Australian Aborigines’ League. This movement would eventually lead to the famous 1967 referendum recognising the place of Aboriginal people in Australia.
But William Cooper was no communist radical. He was a Bible-reading, hymn-singing, Christian. And he didn’t just speak up for Aboriginals. On December 6, 1938, he led a march from Southampton Street, Footscray to the office of the German Consulate in Collins Street, Melbourne.
The protest was over the Nazi mistreatment of Jews that had begun on Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) a few weeks earlier. On this night of “broken glass” on 9–10 November, 1938, Adolf Hitler’s brown shirts (the Sturmabteilung) rampaged through the streets of Germany looting, burning and smashing Jewish stores, buildings and synagogues. Nearly 100 Jews were killed and approximately 30,000 were incarcerated in concentration camps.
Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the world’s leading Holocaust research centre, says that this protest was the only one of its kind in the world. November’s Outreach Poster is your opportunity to discover and celebrate a story that’s been all but forgotten. Look up the web address on the poster - www.theaboriginalwhostooduptohitler.com to read the story of this outstanding Australian Christian man.
The cemetery at Cummeragunja where William Cooper was laid to rest has a large stone tablet at the entrance that reads: ‘THEY BEING DEAD, YET SPEAKETH’
The quote, from Hebrews 11, in the Bible is a reminder that people, like William Cooper, who trust in God for eternal life have profound reason to make sacrifi ces in this life that otherwise wouldn’t make sense. Such people have reason to f ght for justice and against oppression because human life has value before God. But if people
are nothing more than random accidents in space and time and there’s no hope of heaven, then self-seeking is certainly the best course. Jesus’s trust in God motivated him to sacrifice his life for the sin of the world at the cross. And it was this example that motivated William Cooper. Jesus promises eternal life with God in heaven for all those who trust him. The writer to the Hebrews
in the Bible says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Dear God, Thank you for the inspiring example of William Cooper.