Mother and daughter reunited after 60 years
6 January 2006, BERLIN - A 62-year-old Berlin woman has been joyfully reunited with her mother after being separated more than 60 years ago during the final, chaotic months of World War II in Germany.
6 January 2006
BERLIN - A 62-year-old Berlin woman has been joyfully reunited with her mother after being separated more than 60 years ago during the final, chaotic months of World War II in Germany.
The mother, 81-year-old Dorothea Kowalski, flung her arms around her daughter Renate Wirostek and wept tears of joy when the reunion took place recently in Adelaide, Australia, where Mrs Kowalski now lives.
"It is a miracle that we have found one another after so many years," said Renate as she repeatedly hugged her mother during a highly emotional family reunion.
It was in 1943 at the height of World War II that Mrs. Kowalski, then 18, gave birth to Renate. Fifteen months later with Germany in chaos and close to defeat, Mrs. Kowalski was called up to serve at an anti-aircraft battery site. The child's father was serving at the front.
Renate was cared for by relatives when her mother was on duty. Later, when they were bombed out, she was given to several foster families. Ultimately, as the situation progressively deteriorated, the child ended up being evacuated to a farm in Pomerania.
When the Russian Red Army arrived in the area in late 1944, all contact was lost with Renate. Her mother spent years trying to trace her child in the early post-war period via the Red Cross and other German search organisations, but to no avail. Subsequently she sadly concluded her child must have been killed.
In fact, at that time Renate was being looked after by a family in Schleswig Holstein in northern Germany. Not until she was 16 did Renate discover she was a foster child. Armed with that information, she immediately instigated a search for her real mother, refusing to believe she had died in the war.
In fact Mrs. Kowalski had married the new man in her life and emigrated to Australia.
Even when Renate was given a German orphan's pension, she never gave up believing her mother was still alive. On leaving school and moving to Berlin she continued the search for her mother.
In the early winter of 2005, she received an urgent message telling her to contact German officials. Mrs. Kowalski, though earlier presumed by the authorities to be dead, had been traced to Australia where she draws a monthly (German) old-age pension.
Weeks later an overjoyed Renate flew to Adelaide to be reunited with her mum and her three half-sisters. Since learning her mother was in Australia Renate says she spent "every morning practising my English, just in case my mother had forgotten some of her German."
"I'm so happy," she says. During her fortnight's stay in sunny Adelaide, she spent a lot of time taking more than 700 photos of her mother, half-sisters, and other family relatives.
Now, safely back home in Germany, Renate Wirostek is making plans for her mother to visit Berlin. "She will come in May at the very latest," she says exuberantly.
Ulli Zelle, a Berlin RBB television reporter who accompanied Renate Wirostek to Australia, says that "the reunion was very, very emotional with buckets of tears. Mother and daughter recognised one another instantly. It was if they had never been parted all those years. It really was quite astonishing."
Subject: German news