|Country of Origin||Austria|
|Date of Birth||6/24/1933|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1960|
|Submitted by||Walter Rudolph Pape|
I was born on 24June 1933 in Innsbruck as the first son of Rudolf Pape. Although my mother Ernestine tragically died 3 weeks later in Hospital in Innsbruck of complications my father took me home to the family flat in Goethestrasse where my grandmother also was in residence and there I grew up. My father married Rosa Heiss and she was my mother then and brought me up with great love and care. She herself then had 2 sons and a daughter Waltraud, Peter and Herbert. We all lived in the 3 bedroom flat. The living conditions were cramped but we where a happy family and did what familys do.
My father and mother where both hairdressers and had their own business quite good with some people employed. Despise the depression our family was very comfortable. We children went to school and got our education but after the war broke out things changed a bit and I remember we had some worrying times when the authorities came and interned my father because they thought there was some Jewish connections which could be so – I don’t know. We had a tremendous lawyer friend who managed to get my father off the hook so to say. We all had to join the Nazi party. l went to the Hitler youth meetings sometimes to put up an appearance just to be part of the scene. My father had to be enlisted in the army but due to his troubles with his feet he was discharged again before he was due to go to the front.
The war years were 6 years of propaganda, coupons for food and other essential items and everything was very hard to get and a lot of men were called up to join the war effort. School times where often interrupted with bombing raids and sometimes it was very close by us as well because the main railway lines were there. l still remember the 44 gallon petrol drums flying into our garden missing the house by a fraction. My father’s shop received a direct hit and he lost everything and started afresh in the old city of Innsbruck
Liberation came in I945. Although there where some resistance from hard core homeguards and small SS. units the white flags appeared everywhere and the Americans who came via the Brenner Pass from ltaly were welcomed with open arms. Just around the comer from us was an American unit stationed and I remember a huge black American Sergeant who really loved us kids and gave us food and other things. There where these special ration packs red, blue and green. They were very popular & had everything in them from chocolates, biscuits, bars and cigarettes not to forget the chuingum which we ate in the beginning but soon found out the proper use for it. We often cleaned the sergeants jeep and brought home a few of this packs and other goodies like bread etc, which where well received at our dinner table.
I also remember during the war years 1944 and 1945 when things really got tough I often went into the country
helping at the farms and then returned home with eggs, bacon, meat, potatoes and other goodies. Usually the
farmers were called up at the army somewhere on the Russian front or elsewhere and a lot didn’t made it back, the woman had to run the farms and did it well.
As time went on the Marshall plan brought some relief and some normalisation back to the country. l finished my schooling; did a hairdressing apprenticeship but didn’t like it and switched to agriculture – received a degree in Dairy technology and specialised in Cheese making. Worked in different Cheese factories in Germany and Austria also did my 2 years duty in the Austrian army.
In 1960 there appeared some advertising where the Australian Government offered a free trip to Australia if you signed up for 2 years and qualified. Australia needed tradesmen, professionals and other workers. Very quietly I filled in the paperwork got the medical okay and then thought no more about it. But after a few months a letter came from Australian migration I am accepted and have to be in Salzburg within a week for transit to Australia.This was quite a shock to the family and even for me. I didn’t expected anything any more but there was no time left for consideration – yes or no within a week. So I said yes to dismay of my parents. What are 2 years of adventure if you are young. I was a few days in a camp in Salzburg and than off to the airport for a KLM flight to Australia. It was one of the older planes a Super Constellation with 3 tail fins. l remember it being a very long trip and the whole planeload were all migrants. There where refueling stops at the way but when we stopped in Biak New Guinea we had 12 hours to stretch our legs. It was interesting but very hot. The next day off to Darwin and than on to Melbourne. We all were processed by the migration department and finished off in Bonegilla the migrant camp. Part 2 follows.