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Retracing her parents’ path

Lorraine Willson travelled from Australia to Poland and Germany with her husband David with a view to retrace the path of her parents’ lives. While visiting the International Tracing Service (ITS) she received documentation about the time her parents spent as Displaced Persons (DPs) and the steps they took as DPs in preparing for their emigration to Australia.

Between 1947 and 1953 the Australian government helped more than 170,000 DPs to immigrate to their continent. Population growth through immigration was one of the goals of Australian politics at that time, but there were very strict conditions. Thanks to their status as former Polish forced laborers and their registration as DPs in 1948, Lorraine’s parents managed to qualify for one of the coveted tickets for the journey overseas.

With her husband David, Lorraine travelled to the places in Poland her parents had once called home, and visited relatives still living there. Continuing on to Germany, the two stopped at places such as Förderstedt, where Lorraine’s mother had been a forced laborer on a farm between 1940 and 1945. At the ITS Lorraine and David received information about her parents’ life phase between 1945 and 1948 as well as copies of all the corresponding documentation in the ITS archive, including that on other family members, e.g. the marriage license of an uncle and aunt and the birth certificate of their first child.

Lorraine und David were very impressed with the archive and the work of the ITS. ‟There are so many people in Australia, who might learn more about the lives of their parents”, said David, who had come across information about the ITS while researching on forced labor camps in Germany . ‟My sister and I are lucky that David enjoys doing online research”, Lorraine Willson tells. ‟Otherwise we would never have learned so much about the lives of our parents and their siblings.”