Growing up in Australia

Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to grow up in Australia. However, all my children grew up here and are very happy to live here. I ask myself, do people always love the place they grow up in? No, I do not think that is necessarily so. I for one was not happy with the educational opportunities that were open to me in postwar Germany. I was glad to leave Germany behind in 1959. I felt I did owe Germany no loyalty. In those postwar years a lot of Germans longed to live in America, the free country! I thought the next best thing would be to live in Australia.

These days I am glad that we were given the chance to migrate to Australia rather than to America. In Australia we felt straight away freer than in Germany. Peter started in a very low paid job. That meant, we were on an extremely low budget. Still we found life in Australia easy going. It took us only a couple of years to pay off a block of land! Somehow we managed the payments for the land by strictly buying only the most basic things. We spent little on clothes. Home cooked meals were not expensive. About once a week we could even afford to buy take-away fish and chips or a yummy take-away hamburger!

After the land had been paid for, a building society gave us a loan for a small house. We could never have achieved that in Germany! Our two babies were regarded as something precious in Australia. Whereas in Germany people’s attitude was something like: We young people with hardly any prospects for the future should not have any children. The question at the top of their minds was, how on earth could we dare to have children when we had no means to adequately provide for them?!

Over the years we raised four children in Australia. We soon owned our own home. I never had to go to work. Peter always earned sufficient to provide for his family. I chose to stay home with the children. Sure, our children were not spoiled with a lot of the things that todays children take for granted. But there was always a roof over their head, someone to look after them, enough food and clothes as well as the chance for a good education. I reckon Australia was the best place for children to grow up in. University education was free in those days. Even when the parents were on a low income level their children were given good opportunities to better themselves.

We came to Australia in 1959. A lot of things have changed since then. Maybe I feel a bit nostalgic as far as the 60s and 70s are concerned. Sure, a lot of progress has been made since then. Some technical progress has been enormous; e.g. with computers, mobile phones, digital TV etc. However, I reckon the growing gap between rich and poor has not been good. To my mind the difference between poor people and rich people has been growing to an unacceptable level. How can an enormously huge gap in assets and income level be good for society? I wonder whether any reforms are possible and whether the very rich could ever accept a somewhat lower standard of living so that the gap would not be quite as enormous?

I wrote the above about a year ago and came across it today in my files. Somehow it still makes sense to me today. How on earth can the excessive widening of the gap ever be stopped? Is it right for me to worry about it? I live in one of the richest countries in the world and personally I don’t suffer any hardship. Being seventy-seven years of age my life is nearing its end. Is it right for me to worry about what comes after me? Shouldn’t  I just count my blessings? Justice for all and the abolishment of poverty: It’s just a dream, isn’t it? Or maybe, just maybe it might become true one day!

18 thoughts on “Growing up in Australia

  1. I’m so glad we came into this world when traveling to find a better life is not impossible anymore. I too have traveled far from where I was born and raised. My parents wanted this when we were young. At first, I did not want to leave all the familiar surroundings and my friends. But after a while, I discovered that this has been such an adventure. We have moved many times since we were married. We spent the longest in Toronto and then now in San Francisco. I must say, I am greatly fond of both places.

    I’m sure that had you been unhappy in Australia, you would have moved some more. But perhaps you were both ready for the change and the excitement of a new environment.

    It’s good to love where one hangs one’s hat, so to speak!

    1. You’re right, it’s possible to love several places. We’re so lucky to have been able to go back to Berlin on a number of visits. Yet our home is now Australia. Thank you for your comment, dear MOL.

  2. Beautiful and touching story my friend. You remind me of me in a way. We both ventured to another country to call our home. I admire Peter’s great love for his family. His and your sacrifices during the postwar as well as the start of a new life in Australia is very heartwarming and inspiring. When I wanted leave my country of birth for a better economic life I had 4 places I was looking at. They were U.S.,London, Australia and Canada. I have friends who migrated to Australia and they never been more happier. In the end, the one thing that made all your journey memorable was and still is your family’s love and support for each other. A blessed day to you and your family. Thanks for sharing.

  3. In the postwar years it was very difficult for Germans to get permission to settle in the USA. It was easier when you had some relatives in US who could sponsor you. We knew of several Germans who wished they could find some long lost relatives in the US!

    One of Peter’s cousins migrated to England soon after the war. She’s a retired nursing sister now and still living in England with her Hungarian born husband. One close friend of Peter’s migrated to Canada with his wife. After a few years they settled back in Germany.

    We had either Canada or Australia in mind. When we decided we wanted to apply for Australia, my father urged us to choose South Africa instead. That way it would be easier for him to come and visit us, he said, since it wasn’t quite as far away as Australia! We told him we didn’t like their apartheid policy. He didn’t like us leaving, Still he did his best to support us.

  4. You father reminded me of my parents. They too were not into having us move far from them but as I told my sister who’s boyfriend lives in California, follow you heart and your dreams. It is your life and you don’t want to look back later in life regretting the one’s you missed. I miss my parents but I had to follow my dreams then. I hope to go home one day but I have a young son now who I need to take care of. I’m glad you settled in Australia. It is also a land of opportunity and from what I heard the people are more down to earth and friendly. Good for you my friend . Best wishes to you and your family.

  5. The point you make in your postscript about the income gap is very relevant and I think it’s good that you are concerned about it! Have you ever read the book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett? In it they make just the point you are making and say that societies where the gap between rich and poor is smaller people are happier and healthier.

  6. I pray that there will be a narrowing of that gap. It is creating such sorrow and desperation. The middle class is rapidly disappearing—and every solution we try seems to make it worse somehow. I pray pray pray that things will get better. love your posts—

  7. Nice post and reflection.

    Being poor – It can be remedied with the proper financial literacy and most especially a change in psychology that any man even a maid can retire as millionaire.

    You’ve asked the questions: “Is it right for me to worry about what comes after me? Shouldn’t I just count my blessings?”

    Your insights shared to us are good testament of what really happened and that is our blessing. Don’t stop sharing your thoughts and don’t stop counting your blessings. It does take a lot of real actions to combat what we don’t like around us; so it takes us to set an example and it takes us to do something about it, and it takes us to come together to battle what we don’t like. – It’s a matter of someone having the desire to change something and inspiring others to do the same. 🙂

    I grew up in the Philippines but I must say that I enjoy the better life here in United Arab Emirates and I honestly think about trying my luck in Australia or somewhere else. 😀

  8. I grew up in Marinduque where Marcopper Mining Corp. used to operate. Although I didn’t experience material wealth, I have happy memories of my childhood. Reading your post made me feel me a little bit nostalgic of this small community I grew up where everyone I considered an extension of my family.

    Thanks for sharing, Auntyuya!

    As holiday season is fast approaching, I greet you and your whole family a happy Holiday! Be blessed. 🙂

  9. It’s natural, I think to worry a bit about future generations. We have an ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots now, too. That’s what Occupy Wall Street is all about. I don’t know much about economics but I believe the shrinking of the middle class is a dangerous thing.

    1. You may be right there, Pat. My father always pointed out to me that for a healthy society you needed well established middle classes.
      Thanks for your comment!

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