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Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms: Home

A study guide for the novel "Barbed wire and cherry blossoms" by Anita Heiss.



"It is important for me to say that I am not an expert on the Breakout; I am not an expert on Cowra or Erambie. I am just someone who wrote a book because I wanted school students around Australia to be talking about World War II from an Australian perspective, inclusive of Aboriginal people. I wanted book clubs to be reading this novel and discussing the themes within it. I wanted Australians generally to realize that while we treated the POWs here in the 1940s as we were meant to under the Geneva Conventions where we have the UN Refugee Agency saying we treat those imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru in inhumane conditions and we are torturing young people in detention in the Northern Territory in places like Don Dale. There are lessons to still be learned from the history of Cowra, and I hope that my novel goes some way to being part of the education process." 

Source: Anita Heiss - Thank you Cowra []

5 AUGUST, 1944.
Over 1000 Japanese soldiers break out of the No.12 Prisoner of War compound on the fringes of Cowra. In the carnage, hundreds are killed, many are recaptured, and some take their own lives rather than suffer the humiliation of ongoing defeat.
But one soldier, Hiroshi, manages to escape.
At nearby Erambie Station, an Aboriginal mission, Banjo Williams, father of five and proud man of his community, discovers Hiroshi, distraught and on the run. Unlike most of the townsfolk who dislike and distrust the Japanese, the people of Erambie choose compassion and offer Hiroshi refuge. Mary, Banjo’s daughter, is intrigued by the softly spoken stranger, and charged with his care.
For the community, life at Erambie is one of restriction and exclusion – living under Acts of Protection and Assimilation, and always under the ruthless eye of the mission Manager. On top of wartime hardships, families live without basic rights.
Love blossoms between Mary and Hiroshi, and they each dream of a future together. But how long can Hiroshi be hidden safely and their bond kept a secret?

Source: Simon & Schuster []

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