Drifting together

• Trudy Kassin with a photo of her husband Gerhard.

IN 1954, Trudy Kassing and her husband, Gerhard, first set foot on Australian soil in Perth.

Sixty seven years later, at the age of 87 and in declining health, Ms Kassing is back, accompanied by her son Peter, to bring her journey full circle.

Mr Kassing senior died in 2019, and his wife is planning for Peter to mix their ashes when her time comes and release them into the ocean off Fremantle, with the hope currents may take a sprinkle back to Germany.

Travelling from their home in Melbourne, the two are celebrating all that the Kassings’ journey from postwar Germany has made possible for the family.

Having watched Nazis kick her father’s teeth out for refusing to cooperate, Ms Kassing and her new husband were seeking something they did not think they could find at home. He’d been a prisoner of war after being captured as Allied and German forces tussled over the strategically important Middle Eastern theatre. 

“What are you expecting to find in Australia?” Ms Kassing remembers Gerhard’s mother asking in frustration before the couple left. 

“Freedom, for one thing,” she responded.

Ms Kassing, who carries a photo of her motorhome in her purse, was quickly taken with the stillness of the open country. 

“You always have the freedom to disappear into the bush if you want to,” she says.

Their recent flight from Melbourne hardly compares with the 32-day ocean voyage that first brought the Kassings to Australia. 

The newlyweds, who were not allowed to share a cabin, were forced to take their intimate business elsewhere. 

“We ended up in the lifeboat,” says Ms Kassing.

The Kassings left Germany with more faith than information; sighting land, Ms Kassing says she was relieved to see her new country had electricity. 

Now, revisiting the origins of her time in Australia, Ms Kassing says she feels “a surge of happiness, like butterflies in my tummy, and gratefulness toward my son for making it happen”.

Despite the passing of time and her pride in what the couple contributed to their adopted home, where he worked as a damask weaver and she ran a sandwich shop for many years, Ms Kassing says she has never forgotten her roots.

Her son confirms she has retained the German habit of always making sure everyone around her is well fed.

by CARSON BODIE

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