The Legacy of William Cooper

What is that? Well, as you may know, Uncle William Cooper (1860- 1941) was an Indigenous activist and leader of his community, who also saw the injustices of the world around him, at a time when his own people were struggling for acceptance and their place in Australian society. When he heard of Kristallnacht in far off Europe, he organised for a delegation of Indigenous men and women to march to the German consulate in Melbourne, and presented them with a letter condemning the Jewish persecution. The Germans refused to accept the letter, but simply presenting it made Cooper a hero, especially in the eyes of the Jewish community.

In 2017, 88-year-old Alfred Turner, known as Uncle Boydie, who is an Indigenous leader and hero in his own right, travelled to Berlin, where the German Government of today finally accepted the letter of his grandfather and thanked him for it. On the way, he stopped in London, and visited Ypres in Belgium, where his uncle (William Cooper's son Daniel) fought and died for the Australian Imperial Forces in World War I. As a result, Uncle Boydie, as a representative of  his grandfather and of Indigenous Yorta Yorta soldiers who fought in World War I, also visited Israel, and laid a wreath at the official centennial commemoration of the Light Horse Charge in Beersheba on October 31.

In the latter part of his life, William Cooper became an Indigenous activist and hero. But his story is not so well known in Australia, though it has all the makings of a Hollywood movie. It is now time for the Australian people to be educated about this important figure in Australian history, and a story that still has ramifications today. William Cooper's brave stance in the face of evil is a legacy that reverberates amongst descendants of the Indigenous people that Cooper was so passionate about, amongst the Jewish community, and in fact amongst all upstanding people of Australia and the world.

At an invitation-only event in early August 2017in Melbourne, Rabbi James Kennard, the Oxford educated Principal of Mt Scopus College, spoke about Uncle Boydie, reconciliation and the legacy of William Cooper, and what that means to his students and to all of us. He spoke about Uncle Boydie's mission and why supporting this project is such a vital endeavour. 

On 6th December 1938, Uncle William was refused entry after marching in protest at the German Consulate in Melbourne.
On 6th December 2012, Uncle's William grandson, Uncle Boydie retraced the protest to the same building in Melbourne.
On the eve of Kristallnacht, 9th November 2017, Uncle Boydie presented this protest in Berlin, Germany.
On 6th of December 2020, the German Government belatedly apologised for refusing Uncle William back in 1938.

Most of this website, particularly the photos on the third page under the tab Journey 2017, tell the story of William Cooper's grandson attempt to finally succeed in delivering his grandfather's protest message to the German Government.
The beautiful video below was curated to commemorate the 82nd anniversary of this courageous protest, produced by David Jack.
At 1.00.47, you will see  when Dr. Felix Klein, representing Chancellor Angela Merkel, presented his apologies 82 years later on behalf of the German Government.
Congratulations Uncle Boydie at the age of 92 you have earnt the right to relax and retire, as your mission of 'completing your grandfather's unfinished business' has finally been accomplished! 

Uncle Boydie and Abe Schwarz meeting Prince William



For further information about the project or any of the events taking place, fill in the contact form below, or email Abe Schwarz, Convenor of the project, at

PO Box 30, Balaclava VIC 3183

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