Publication Date



In June 1935, Edith Roll, a thirteen-year-old from Vienna, wrote to her Australian pen-pal, Jean Doig, aged ten. This correspondence was tragically short-lived. Edith Roll’s family was swept up in the murder and destruction of Jews in Europe. The efforts of Jean’s parents – the respected country doctor, Keith Doig, and his wife, Louie – who attempted but failed to assist Edith and her family, her father, Jakob Roll, her mother Emilie and brother Fritz, are examined in this article. To disregard their efforts as tangential to the history of refugees because they were unsuccessful means we miss an opportunity to explore the historically situated notions of compassion and empathy that can be at the centre of these endeavours. Drawing on personal letters rather than the views of government officials, this article examines the Doig family efforts and what inspired them, arguing that these are a vital part of the complex story of refugee and migration history.


Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Grant Number


Access may be restricted.