Macquarie University
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From the Manning to Majdanek: the war history of Private Ernest Maxwell Sawyer NX1488

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posted on 2022-03-28, 22:47 authored by Paul Damian O'Shea
Emest Max Sawyer (1920-1984) joined the 2nd AIF in 1939 and saw action in North Africa and was captured in Greece in April 1941. He was despatched to Stammlager XVIII A Marburg and joined a Arbeitskommando for work on various Austrian farms. Denounced to the local Gendarmerie Sawyer was sentenced to the Straflager at Graudenz in northern Poland. Escaping Sawyer was recaptured and sent to Majdanek. Until his death Sawyer claimed he had been incarcerated in the KL. Family memories along with documents from medical files trace the slow decline of a man who had suffered trauma consistent with imprisonment in a KL. Sawyer was a victim of the Nazi Endlösung. This thesis attempts to unravel the war history of Max Sawyer. Chapters 1 and 2 explore the background of Sawyer’s family within the context of early twentieth century Anglo-Australia. Chapter 3 examines the effects of the 1914-1918 war on the life of Max’s father. Chapter 4 looks at Max Sawyer in the world of the Manning Valley in the 1920s and 1930s. Chapter 5 considers Max’s army service and his capture in Greece. Chapter 6 details the experience of Australian prisoners of war in Austria and Max’s time in Eichburg before his arrest in 1943. Chapter 7 reconstructs his time in Graudenz and then Majdanek in chapter 8. Chapter 9 deals with Max’s journey to Odessa and return to Australia. Chapter 10 is an examination of Donald Watt and Stoker. The closing chapter discusses difficulties encountered with historians and an examination of Holocaust literature.



Bibliography: pages 308-331

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis masters research


Thesis (MA (Hons)), Macquarie University

Department, Centre or School

School of History, Philosophy and Politics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Duncan Waterson

Additional Supervisor 1

Colin Tatz


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Paul O'Shea 1997.






1 online resource (xi, 331 leaves, bound) ill

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