Women’s History Month: Sandra Goldbloom Zurbo
Sandra Goldbloom Zurbo was (as you’ll hear) involved in protests and demonstrations from a very young age, mostly because of her father, Sam Goldbloom. She was heavily involved in organising various actions throughout the era of the Vietnam War. In this short excerpt she talks about her motivation for being opposed to the Vietnam War.
Alex: Were things like the Vietnam War and conscription being talked about at home or amongst your family.
Sandra: Mum wasn’t particularly political, but dad was extremely. … There was always, almost always something political would come up at dinner. “See that butter sandwich, the price of that butter is determined by…” and so on. In my teens, I was part of a organisation called the Youth Peace Group, which was kind of a spin off from the Victorian Peace Council, which was the Victorian branch of the Australian Peace Council, which was – basically it was a pro Soviet peace thing, but they did some really good work. And long before moratoriums, like from the early 60s, members of the Victorian peace group were protesting the Vietnam War. Twenty people would show up, you know – “Vietnam? where’s that?” – people didn’t have a clue where it was. …
Alex: Would you have described yourself as a pacifist?
Sandra: No, never. No, I was never a pacifist. I’m still not a pacifist.
Alex: Why would you not see yourself as a pacifist?
Sandra: Well, because I think there are times when people have to fight because you can’t – you can’t just say, listen, America, would you leave here? Listen, you know, China, Russia, whoever you are – I mean, people have to often take up arms or stones or rocks or whatever they – in Middle East, you know, whatever they need to take up – to get rid of what I think of it as oppressors. No, I mean, I’ve never been a pacifist and I’m still not.
Alex: So when it came to thinking about the Vietnam War and Australia’s involvement in Vietnam: you objected to that, obviously. How were you thinking about why Vietnam was a problem as a war?
Sandra: Australia only went there to – to kiss American arse, just as they went to Afghanistan, and every other war that it’s fought apart from World War Two, in which we were very late to take part. Otherwise, certainly everything postwar that we’ve done, Korea, and so on, so on. It’s all been, you know, as I say, to kiss American arse, and under the misguided belief that if we ever got into any trouble ourselves, then the Americans would come to our aid. And I know full well that the Americans will come to our aid if and only when it suits them politically and financially and diplomatically and every other -ly. … So I never thought that Australia should be engaged. And I certainly didn’t think the Americans should be engaged.
If you know a Melbourne woman who was involved in protesting against the Vietnam War, please leave a comment!