Dunera Boy Franz Stampfl: the movie


No Kidding. They’re making a movie of Franz Stampfl’s life – a doco. Who was Franz Stampfl I hear you cry?

Wikipedia says this:

Stampfl was born in the capital of then Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was the son of an Austrian general. He studied writing and painting in school. After high school he attended the Vienna Academy of Art and had some success as a skier and javelin thrower. He represented his country at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles in the Javelin.

In 1936 sensing the rise of Adolf Hitler, he fled to England to study at Cambridge university. When Hitler marched into Austria in 1938, the British government demanded that he leave the country unless he showed a unique and necessary skill. Having taught skiing back in his homeland, Stampl pitched AAA officials to coach their athletes, earning him a job in Northern Ireland. This was in part due to assistance by Olympic legend Harold Abrahams 1.

Wikipedia doesn’t say he was Jewish, so I guess he wasn’t. In any event, on being shipped out here on the Dunera and interned for the duration, he married an Australian and then returned to England and contributed to the development of ‘interval’ training – involving bursts of flat out effort followed by periods of recovery. This helped a number of runners, none less than Roger Bannister who broke the four minute mile. He then returned to Australia and trained John Landy and also Ralph Doubell who chased down Wilson Kiprugut in the 1968 Olympics.

In his later days he was holed up in a shack by the athletics oval of Melbourne University. He was known to like driving fast cars and became a quadriplegic after a car accident, though I’m now thinking the fast cars business may have been an urban myth having read on Wikipedia that he was made a quadriplegic from being crashed into “while stationary at a traffic light”.  In any event, I was quite a fast sprinter ‘back in the day’ – the early 1980s and I thought I’d go down and see Franz, tell him of our mutual connection (my Dad being a Dunera Boy and all) and see what was involved in training with him.  No problem – he told me to go and run thirty laps and come back when I had. I trudged round watching his various proteges like Bev Francis a shot putter who looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his younger days.

Like Franz is quoted as saying in the promo on the site “Your mind can overcome any sort of adversity .  .  . sure it will be painful, but what’s pain?” Well my mind didn’t overcome the thirty laps, or if it did, it didn’t overcome the next stage which was interspersing it with 200 metre sprints.

It was a very efficient mechanism for not wasting time on those who not would get past his pain barrier – not, as it turned out – me. But I’ll check out the movie.

  1. of Chariots of Fire fame[]
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Carla Kane Stroud
Carla Kane Stroud
12 years ago

My grandfather was also interred at the Hay camp in Australia and was aboard the ‘Dunera’.. I have his diary, manifests, watercolors.. etc.. Been researching for a while… seems there was no information for a long time and now more and more is coming out.
His name was Richard Kandelmann, born in Vienna Austria. He was Jewish.

3 years ago

Hi Carla

You are right that more is coming out – it is very fascinating

If you ever see this comment please be in touch – i am researching the Dunera and would love to read your grandfather’s diary

All the best


mc.rowe AT outlook DOT com