My Beliefs

“Thanks for telling us about your history. I found it fascinating. I have always admired your positive outlook on life and also not being afraid to speak out and make comments on political events and standing up for your beliefs. thank you.”

It is great to get a comment like this one that Elizabeth made in response to my previous post. I hope I am telling the truth when I say I probably always had a rather positive outlook on life. Even during times when I felt very down there was always hope at the back of my mind that things would turn out all right. Something comes to mind what I did when I felt depressed: I looked for people I could talk to about my problems.

My problems resulted mainly from a feeling of self doubt. I doubted that I was any good to anyone. One day a friend of mine told me: “You know, God does not make rubbish!” This simple statement somehow brought about a change in my thinking. I started to believe that I must have some kind of value. I started to accept myself the way I was. I think Peter did not like me to have friends that were not his friends. But I told him that I needed people to talk to. I said that I just could not talk solely to him all the time.

In my last post I said that some things I could not change as for instance the war- and post-war conditions. In the meantime I talked with Peter again about our dear first born daughter who passed away on the 15th of July 2012. She was a very strong willed, loving and courageous woman. Yes, I say woman for she was close to 55 when she died. Even though, in a lot of ways she seemed to us a bit like a teenager right until the day she died. But these days women stay younger for longer, right?

The daughter’s name was Gabriele. We called her Gaby. Some Australians called her “Gabby” which I think was fitting for she liked to talk a lot. So she was a good organiser, a good talker and had an outgoing personality. However she was a quadriplegic with breathing difficulties. Some of my blogger friends may remember that I mentioned this before. Gaby was not the intellectual type. She never got around to doing university studies. But I believe she made of her life as much as was possible under the circumstances.

When Gaby ended up in hospital as a four year old, she soon started bossing every one around. The very motherly head sister called her “the boss” of the ward. Who knows what career Gaby could have had had she been able growing up without these extremely severe disabilities! A vaccination against poliomyelitis could have prevented Gaby falling sick during the 1961 polio epidemic. Peter and I assured us again and again that we were not neglectful since the vaccine was not available at the right time. It was a disastrous set of circumstances. Still, the regret is there of course. Peter would say it was fate, I say it was the will of God. Gaby understood the position we were in. We did whatever we could do for her throughout her life. And she always showed us that she loved us! She was a “pain in the neck” as the saying goes, but she also had a very big and generous heart. Gaby was loved and admired by a great many people. She had a marvellous memory for faces and names. And she liked to keep in touch with every one in our family.

I wish that some things could have been different. But I have to accept that some circumstances could not be changed. The decisions I made during my life always felt right at the time, even though later on I sometimes doubted whether I had made the right decision. I think with most important decisions like marrying and having children I overcame any doubts. There is one decision I certainly never regretted: Our coming to Australia. I regard it as a blessing that we were accepted as migrants in 1959. Coming to Australia for me was the best decision we ever made. I never had any doubts about this.

7 thoughts on “My Beliefs

  1. Maybe Gaby would not have had such an impact if she had not been disabled? From what you have said about her, she was an amazing person and touched the lives of a lot of people that she may never have met if she had been able-bodied. I agree with you – the will of God.

  2. I have deep respect and admiration for you sharing this story. I know of the 1961 polio epidemic in Australia and there was one boy in our town who was left affected.
    I am inspired by your attitude that, even though sometimes you wished things could have been different, you accepted that circumstances could not be changed.
    That takes great courage and your positive attitude shines through your posts.
    I also like your positiveness about your move to Australia, as it would be easy to fret for the homeland and its old traditions. As you have encouraged me in comments, life is what you make it. You live by that and that is something to be admired..

    1. Thanks very much for your comment, dear Elizabeth. It makes me think a lot more about the whole migrant story. We came to Australia as assisted migrants, that meant the Australian and the German government shared in the expense for our voyage to Australia. We had to contribute to this only a a very tiny amount. We were required to stay in Australia for two years. If after two years we decided we wanted to go back to Germany we were free to do so. However for the return journey we would have had to pay for ourselves.

      We knew some migrants who became so homesick that they went back to Germany as soon as possible. We know of families who did not like living in Germany after having experienced life in Australia, Some of these families did not stay in Germany; they came back to Australia quick smart! A few others profited from the economic boom in Germany and decided to stay in Germany but really missed the comparatively easier life in Australia. Some Germans were upset that their qualifications were not recognised here in Australia. This may have been a reason why they wanted to go back to Germany. Every one we talked to when visiting Germany said life in Australia was much better!

      Peter and I never suffered this kind of home-sickness where we would have considered to live in Germany again even though both of us still had family in Germany. By 1977 we were for the first time able to travel to Germany for a visit. Since then we have been visiting a number of times. We enjoy visiting, but are always glad coming back to Australia. It is such a great feeling coming back to Australia! Berlin to me is not home any more. It is just a place I like to visit. Peter is at heart still a Berliner. He keeps up to date about everything in Berlin. But this does not mean that he wants to live there permanently. He definitely likes very much living in Australia!

      1. A positive attitude can carry a person around the world. The polio epidemic was a tragedy. I know that some people who received the proper treatment and recovered, have had late-in-life symptoms of the disease return to haunt them…however, I don’t think their symptoms are as bad as the consequences to untreated children.

        You may have discussed this in a post I missed, but I would be interested in the story of your and Peter’s decision to emigrate to Australia. What were the economic/political conditions that led up to the opportunity? What did you have to gain and to lose in the move?

      2. Thanks for your questions, Linda. Australia wanted very much to take in migrants at the time. They especially liked families with children. We did get a lot of support by the Australian government to settle in Australia. The men could get jobs straight away in the steelworks at a minimum wage that is, but still it was a job. I think the minimum weekly wage for men was then about 15 Pounds! If people went out to look for a different job, this was perfectly okay. No restrictions, none whatsoever.
        The dole (unemployment benefit) was paid to us on our arrival. but then soon nobody needed the dole anymore for the men had been given employment or found employment themselves. Some women started to look for work too, but women with small children usually did not. We were given hostel accommodation which we appreciated very much.
        In 1959 the housing shortage in Germany in the aftermath of the war was still severe. We could see no chance to get affordable accommodation for years to come. Poor very young people as we were were looked down upon by most Germans. They thought people with a very low income showed irresponsibility by having young kids.
        We lived first with an aunt of mine. When she had to move somewhere else where her husband was employed, we could not move with her. But we moved then to Dusseldorf to stay with my father who only had a very small place. We felt we could not burden my father for many more years to come by living with him. So when we were given the chance to go to Australia we very enthusiastically went for it. It was the best thing that could have
        happened to us! 🙂

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