I’m afraid peo­ple are go­ing to spit at­meon the street

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Jenni Baird -

The de­ci­sion to con­vert and turn her back on the Catholic Church de­stroyed Sarah’s re­la­tion­ship with her mother.

The cou­ple were in Paris when the Nazis ar­rived in 1940. They worked in the Paris un­der­ground, dis­tribut­ing anti-Ger­man pro­pa­ganda.

In 1942, they were ar­rested, but her hus­band con­vinced the Ger­mans she was in­no­cent of any crimes. He was sent to Dachau, where he died.

Events even­tu­ally led to Sarah be­ing ar­rested and sent to Ravens­bruck camp in 1944. She sur­vived and was lib­er­ated from this camp at the end of the war.

Re­search­ing Sarah’s Jewish her­itage — and par­tic­u­larly the Holo­caust — deeply af­fected Dus­sel­dorp.

Dus­sel­dorp is best known on TV as se­nior crown prose­cu­tor Janet King in Crown­ies and jour­nal­ist Lil­lian Hil­lier in the Jack Ir­ish tele­movies.

‘‘ I didn’t know how to come at some­one like that un­til I had done the back­ground work,’’ Dus­sel­dorp says.

‘‘ It was through the re­search that I met her. It be­came so over­pow­er­ing that I re­mem­ber one night my hus­band say­ing to me ‘ you have to stop for a minute, ab­sorb ev­ery­thing now and walk away for a while’ be­cause it is quite painful.

‘‘ I watched a lot of doc­u­men­taries (on the Holo­caust) in­clud­ing Shoah for hours, read Primo Levi’s Sur­viv­ing Auschwitz and went to the Jewish Mu­seum and I also have Jewish rel­a­tives so I sat down and spoke to them.

‘‘ It (the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the Holo­caust) is still in a lot of peo­ple’s lives to­day. That is the thing about set­ting it ( A Place to Call Home) in 1953.

‘‘ There are peo­ple alive who re­mem­ber that quite vividly. It is im­por­tant to rep­re­sent them with the dig­nity and the courage that they de­serve.’’ APlace to Call Home, Chan­nel 7, Sun­day, 8.30pm Be­hind the mask: Jenni Baird is ner­vous about the reaction to her char­ac­ter.

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