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“I always felt a little lost”

Julius Edmundson could have gradually started thinking about a quiet life after retiring in his early 60s.  But the prospect of more time and quiet awakened his long-held desire to learn more about his heritage. Edmundson traveled to Europe with his daughter Lara seeking clues to his past. “I always felt a little lost as I grew up without a father,” said the Australian.

Julius was born in Germany on 1 May 1945, a few days before the end of the Second World War. He was the child of forced labourers: his mother was a Ukrainian native deported to Germany by the National Socialists and his father was a Pole. One week before Julius´s birth his father disappeared. “My mother believed that to escape death he emigrated to Australia to be with relatives,” reported Edmundson. “The ship we sailed on, the Dundalk Bay, was the first memory of my childhood.”

Edmundson and his daughter invested three years of intensive research in order to unearth more details. At the International Tracing Service (ITS) they obtained documents on his mother´s forced labour and the registration of both mother and son as displaced persons. The ITS contacted the farmer´s family where Edmundson´s mother was a forced labourer and the Red Cross supplied information on his father´s wartime imprisonment and forced labour.

And then came the news that shocked the family to its core: Edmundson´s father had survived the war and returned to Poland. “First I felt nothing, then anger, and then I simply wanted to know everything about his life,” said the Australian. No one knows why his father abandoned his mother during her pregnancy. His father has since died and little was known about his time in Germany.

In the summer of 2009, Edmundson was at least able to visit his two half-sisters in Poland. He discovered who his father was, what he had done and how he had lived. The Australian also saw his birthplace in Germany and visited his mother´s family in Ukraine. “We were completely exhausted after our trip around Europe but also thankful for all the wonderful experiences,” Lara Edmundson wrote.