Ina Heitdman joined the Communist Party at a young age after she went to work for a trade union. In this interview Ina talks about her widowed mother who was a cleaner, trade union activist and Communist Party member, her own membership of the Party and her long association with the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. In the excerpt below, Ina recalls her childhood in a Communist household in inner Sydney in the 1940s.
My sister and I used to go to the Sunday School up here on the corner, and one Sunday, because I was two years younger than Margaret, they said that Communists were termites. Well, she grabbed my arm and we flew out of the place and came home and we told Mum what had been said. Anyway, they came down on the following Monday; they said they were terribly sorry and all the rest of it and Margaret just said “Well, we’re not going back anyway”, so we never went back to Sunday school after that. We went through all the business of burying books in the back yard, and putting Lenin’s plaque, that my cousin won in a race, in the toilet cistern because [it was believed] they were going to raid houses in those days. We used to have [Communist] Party classes of a Saturday afternoon. I think they mainly came for Mum’s cooking than the Party school. Oh, we just all sat in the lounge room in there and we had our tutor and we’d have projects to do from one week to the other, and we’d have to come back with some content about what we felt about what we’ve been reading; basically putting the practice of Marxism into effect, and how you would apply it here