Oral History

After having been to the State Coroner’s Court of NSW for the past couple of days and hearing a lot about Gaby’s Life and Death I was reminded how Peter and I talked a lot about Gaby’s life when Frances interviewed us for the ORAL HISTORY recordings. We did get the finished disks sent to us as expected but we never listened to them yet! I guess I am too chicken to listen to my own voice, and Peter probably feels the same about the recordings of his voice. I was thinking the past few days that maybe Frances would be interested in the findings of the Coroner’s Court?

I wrote this on the 21st of February 2013;

“Today, Frances arrived for the last part of the interview.
All went well. Now we have to wait for just a few weeks before we’ll be sent the finished disks. Not that I’m looking forward to listening to my recorded voice! Thanks to all the encouragement I have been given by Frances, I survived the interviews. But I’m glad it’s over now. Talking to Frances was great. I very much liked our conversations. It was just a bit difficult at times knowing what I said was being recorded. Still it was overall a good, enjoyable experience. Frances always tried to put me at ease before the recordings and helped me along by asking relevant questions.”


I wrote on the 16th of February 2013:

“The past week Peter and I have been busy with the telling of our lives’ story. We had a very lovely visitor recording everything for the Oral History section of the library at Canberra. It takes a few weeks before these recordings are accessible. I understand they are going to be preserved for future generations. This whole project is of course extremely exciting for us.

Frances, who’s interviewing us, tells us, we as migrants from Germany, having been through WW II and post war years as children in Germany have experiences to recall which people would be interested to hear about. Also of interest are our experiences in Australia as migrants. In this regard it is of special interest to find out how our lives were shaped by having had a daughter who had been severely disabled by polio.

Neither Peter or I are experienced speakers. Having our voices recorded is something completely new to us. However Frances is very good at encouraging us. She gently guides us into the relevant sections of our lives by asking some questions. Peter and I are always being interviewed separately. Usually we have one hour each in the morning, then a lunch-break, and maybe another hour each in the afternoon.

I found out having to talk for one hour at a time about my life can be rather tiring and sometimes a bit stressful too. But I love doing it especially with such a good interviewer as Frances. By the middle of next week she’s going to be back for the conclusion of the interviews.”

And here is what I wrote on the 13th of March 2013:

“Our daughter Monika said the other day: ‘I knew, Mum, that you’d like Frances.’ She wasn’t surprised at all that I very much loved having her around. Peter and I were always very much looking forward seeing her here at our home. This was some weeks ago. Very soon now we should get the result of these recording sessions with Frances.

I think Frances saw our daughter Gaby just a few days before Gaby died. Sadly the planned interview with Gaby could not take place at the time. There was some difficulty with incoming calls Gaby was expecting that day. Apparently Gaby was reluctant to switch off her mobile phone!

Gaby’s passing must have been a shock to Frances as it was to all of us. Frances had already been looking with Gaby at some of her documents. She was aware how Gaby caught polio at age four, and that she had lived as a quadriplegic with breathing difficulties for over fifty years. After Gaby’s passing she was keen to interview someone of Gaby’s family.

Frances found out from daughter Monika that we, Gaby’s parents, had gone overseas soon after Gaby’s death and wouldn’t be back for quite some time. In the meantime Frances started interviewing Monika. This is how Monika did get to know Frances. Monika agreed to be interviewed about her life in connection with Gaby. So Frances recorded twice one hour with Monika. Some time later, after our return from our long overseas trip, Peter’s and my tale was recorded too. Peter’s took eight times one hour, mine seven times one hour.”

4 thoughts on “Oral History

  1. I’ve been following your reminiscences lately, and am struck by what a lot you have experienced in your lives. Gaby must have been a true blessing in so many ways. The dreadful events you have experienced have enriched you, and made you appreciate the lovely things that stay in your memory.

    1. Of course we do have some truly lovely things in our memory. In hindsight one remembers also the times when we felt very much at a loss in not knowing what to do, not knowing how one could be of more help in a difficult situation. Gaby was very much to be admired how she constantly could face difficult situations. Nothing could keep her down for very long. Thank you very much for commenting, dear Catt. 🙂

  2. Will be sad if you don’t get around to listening to the recording Uta.
    It’s really emphasizing in your own mind, the memory’s you cherish.

    1. Well, Ian, Peter’s disk and my disk are with us in the house. One day we might perhaps display enough courage to listen to them. Or maybe it is going to be up to our descendants to listen to them once we are gone. As I understand it, all these recordings are actually available for everyone to listen to at the Oral History section of The National Library of Australia in Canberra. 🙂

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