Vaccination certificate issued by the International Refugee Organization (IRO) to Erhard Stermole in August 1949 in Austria. This certificate was issued to Erhard as he was preparing to migrate to Australia in 1949 with his father and brother.

Following the occupation of the province of Gotschee in what was then Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) by Italian forces in 1941, Erhard (Ernie) and his parents and siblings were relocated to Germany. Gotschee had been colonised by German speakers in the 1300s and had a mixed Germanic and Slovene population at the time of its invasion. In late 1941 and early 1942 many of the Gottscheer ethnic Germans (almost 12,000 people) were relocated to Brezice (Rann), Slovenia (at that time controlled by Germany). Ernie and his family were put on a train and finally allowed to disembark in Germany to live on a railway siding until getting to Austria to live in poor circumstances.

They later returned to Germany when Ernie's father Max joined the German army, and then moved to Austria to live with Erhard's grandparents on a property near the Croatian border. In 1944 the family split, with Max taking the two elder children, including Ernie, and his wife, Maria, taking the two younger children. In 1949 Max decided to migrate with his sons to Australia, they travelled on the 'Dundalk Bay' and were transferred to Bonegilla migrant camp on arrival. Max Stermole passed away on 20 June 1992.

Physical Description

Booklet with typed black text and details filled out in ink.


This medal represents one of the most significant post war migrant working experiences in Australia - the Snowy Mountains Scheme. We currently have little in the collection referencing this experience so the medal provides an artefact on which we can hang this narrative. It also enables broader discussions about working conditions on the Scheme and the role of international companies in construction. Along with the certificate and postcard, we can also represent a migrant experience of statelessness, of dislocation and relocation, which connects with other key migration themes such as Station Pier and Bonegilla.

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