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Alagich, Joseph (Joe) (1891–1982)

This entry is from People Australia

Josep (Joseph/Joe) Alagich (1891-1982): Born 1891, Kotisina, Makarska, Croatia. Married Tritona Smodlaka. 4 sons. Died 17 February 1982, Manly, NSW.

Conscripted to Austro-Hungarian navy in 1913; discharged 1919. Returned to Makarska with family, but unemployed. Found work in trading leather goods and other produce in Bosnia and northern Dalmacija but venture failed due to ruined economy. As a young man associated with revolutionaries opposed to the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Dalmacija. Member of the Social Democratic Party for several years. In 1920 joined Communist Party when it was established in Vukovar. Following election in Tucepi situation became very tense when police became aware that he (and others) had voted for the communists. Separated from wife. In 1924 came to Australia, with an unmet plan to return with savings. In 1932 sons joined him in Broken Hill. In 1924-1952, worked in Southern Mine, Broken Hill, and was active in local union movement. In 1926 and 1928 organised May Day celebrations among fellow countrymen in Broken Hill whose numbers rose to about 300. Many were left-wing radicals from Dalmacija, Makarska area, Korcula and surrounding islands. In 1928, founded the Movement for Workers' Struggle – a militant workers' group and began publication of Borba (Struggle) on a small printing press.

Foundation President of the Broken Hill branch of the Croatian-Serbian Progressive and Cultural Federation (Borbeni Radnicki Pokret) in 1928. Foundation member Napredak (Progress) Club, probably the first Yugoslav Club formed in Australia. Contacted other groups and individuals around Australia. On request of gifted poet and songwriter in Sydney, A. Rucar, campaigned in Broken Hill to raise money for communists and socialists who were oppressed, disappeared and gaoled in Yugoslavia.  Despite high anti-migrant sentiment in Australia formed a good relationship with Richard Gully in Broken Hill, who called mass meetings between people from Yugoslavia and the labour movement which strengthened ties between them.

'Joe was active in the Trade Union and Labor movement for many years [up to the age of 60]. He claims that he helped to gain the election of good men in parliament. Joe would get busy whenever pre-selections were held to nominate people for state or Federal election. He would pick up as many Yugoslavs as it was necessary. He would go around to collect people and get them to register their vote.' In 1931 was Communist Party nominee for Broken Hill municipal election. In 1936-39 participated in Spanish Aid Committee by adopting an orphan, Juan Salina, for the duration of the civil war. Was instrumental in the formation and development of the Croatian Tamburica band, Proleter (string band) in Broken Hill where instruments were ordered from Zagreb, 1930-33. Moved to Manly, Sydney in 1956.

Barrier Daily Truth (NSW), 19 February 1982 p 6, 20 February 1982; information from Marin Alagich; Murphy, B. 'The Other Australia: Experiences of Migration', 8 pages; Canberra Times, 23 July 1988.

Original Publication

  • Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement 1788-1975, 2012

Citation details

'Alagich, Joseph (Joe) (1891–1982)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/alagich-joseph-joe-25438/text33802, accessed 20 September 2017.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012