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‘I was horrified’: Anita Jacoby’s painful discovery about her father

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Published: 3 May 2022

Last updated: 4 March 2024

After years telling other people’s stories, TV producer Anita Jacoby turned her investigative skills upon her father. What she found rivalled anything she’d put to air

PHILLIP JACOBY HAD many concealed realities, starting with his youth in pre-World War II Germany. Though he never spoke of it to Anita, Phillip’s paternal grandparents were Jewish. As far as the Nazis were concerned, that made him Jewish.

He was also part of an anti-Nazi group called the Young Democratic League. At one point he was almost hurled off a bridge by Brownshirts, a paramilitary group attached to the Nazis; another time, he was thrown in jail.

With the writing on the wall, he decided to escape, opting for Australia, which was about as far away from the Nazis as possible. The Germans had him on a watch list, however, and wouldn’t let him leave.

Through an influential friend, a retired police officer, he managed to have his passport reissued under his middle name, Heinrich, rather than Phillip. It worked. In 1934, he sailed for Sydney. His German girlfriend, Grace Barrow, followed shortly afterward. A few months later, they were married.

Phillip had no money – the Nazis had prevented him from taking it out. But he soon started a business with Grace, called Jacoby & Barrow, importing electrical goods. Their office was in the city, close to a business run by another German émigré called Hans Lewy and his wife, Emmy.

In 1939, only four years after marrying Grace, he left her to be with Emmy, who in turn abandoned Hans and their toddler, Marion. Phillip and Emmy rented an apartment together. Enraged, Hans forbade Emmy any contact with Marion.

Hardly a month after moving out with Phillip, Emmy stuck her head into an oven and gassed herself. It was Phillip who found her on the floor of their apartment.

FULL STORY I was horrified’: Anita Jacoby’s painful discovery about her father (Good Weekend)

Photo: Anita Jacoby as a young girl with her father, Phillip, who escaped to Australia from Germany just before World War II (Courtesy Anita Jacoby)

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