Sydney Jewish Museum CEO Kevin Sumption, Sydney Jewish Museum resident historian Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark.

Nadine Morton
Illawarra Mercury
June 2, 2023

An extensive collection of artworks given to Wollongong Art Gallery by Nazi collaborator Bob Sredersas should be sold off, historian Konrad Kwiet says.

Former Wollongong resident Mr Sredersas bequeathed 141 artworks to the gallery, but earlier this year his links to the Nazi were proven and the city heard he was closely linked with the extermination of Jews during World War II.

Sydney Jewish Museum resident historian Emeritus Professor Kwiet said many of the artworks are valuable and their sale could benefit Wollongong and the museum.

“I wouldn’t mind if that happens, if there were an auction,” he said.

“Then there’s a lot of money coming in and I think that the bulk could go to council or the public gallery, and then there is a portion left that should be donated to the Sydney Jewish Museum for all the work we have done.

“When Sredersas bought that [the artworks] in the ’50s they were cheap, today some are [worth] really big bucks.”

When Wollongong City Council first learnt of Mr Sredersas’ possible links to the intelligence arm of the Nazi SS in January 2022 it did nothing.

After revelations became public two months later, council worked with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and Sydney Jewish Museum to verify claims Mr Sredersas was a member of the Nazi Party’s Schutzstaffel (SS) and Sicherheitsdienst (SD).

In March 2023, Prof Kwiet told council in a public meeting Mr Sredersas absolutely knew Jews were being murdered in the Holocaust.

“He was definitely aware and he was part of the criminal police. Whenever criminal police were called in to investigate, to arrest, to torture, to shoot he was part of it,” he said at the time.

Two months on council is yet to decide what to do with the controversial artworks.

“No record has been found, to date, that showed he was directly involved in the Holocaust itself or other acts of genocide,” a council spokesperson said.

Council said it was eager to have a plan on how to manage artworks and how it “represent the information about Sredersas’ past in the future”.

“This is a process that needs to be worked through sensitively and respectfully, and we are grateful for the knowledge and expertise of the Sydney Jewish Museum and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies as we navigate this,” the spokesperson said.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Darren Bark said the artworks could be used to raise awareness about the Holocaust and “educate the next generation about the dangers of racism, hate speech and discrimination”.

“These works are no use to anyone in storage and can be rebirthed for a new purpose,” he said.

Mr Bark said he’s hopeful of an ongoing partnership with council and the Sydney Jewish Museum to “ensure the horrors of the Holocaust are not forgotten, and never repeated”.

Sredersas’ donated artworks include paintings, works on paper, wood carvings and ceramic ware, and include pieces by Grace Cossington-Smith and Arthur Streeton.

None of these works are currently on display.

Later this year the gallery and Sydney Jewish Museum will host a Courage to Care education program and exhibition to discuss the impacts of the Holocaust.

It will be held at Wollongong Art Gallery from September 23 to November 26.