OBITUARY: Inga’s story spans history, continents

INGA Krain was a kindergarten teacher in Bavaria when the Nazis were in power — but after the war she feared the Russians might soon be ruling her part of Germany.

As a result, she and her husband George and their daughter Harriet came to Australia in 1950, a small family among the 320,000 migrants who passed through Bonegilla.

Mrs Krain, 88, died in a Melbourne nursing home this week, six years after her husband of 60 years passed away in Albury, the city they made home for half-a-century.

Both were prominent citizens, Mr Krain being an accountant, a member of the Lions and the Lutheran Church, and Mrs Krain an active member of groups helping migrants and later Age Concern.

Mrs Krain was born Inga Schuhmann in Berlin in 1924 and spent her early years in Saxony, where her father was mayor of a small town.

She was a kindergarten teacher during the war, her anti-Nazi brother drafted into the army at 17.

In 1994, she published a memoir, Are you really going to Australia? about how she and her husband married in post-war Germany, where both were interpreters for US forces.

“We lived in fear that the Russians would invade our part of Germany and that we would lose our hard-earned democracy,” she wrote.

She followed up her first book with Fair Dinkum: A Sentimental Journey, recounting the primitive conditions at Bonegilla and the prejudice because they were German.

Despite his language skills, one of her husband’s first jobs was clearing thistles in a farmer’s paddock.

He was sent to Sydney to be a water board labourer but in 1951 the couple rented rooms in another migrant’s house at Walla and their second child, Christine was born.

Later the family moved to Albury, George studying accountancy, becoming a successful businessman and volunteer worker, and was awarded an OAM in 2005.

Mrs Krain had returned to Germany, briefly, 26 years after she had migrated.

She was able to revisit her home town, Starnburg, where in May 1945 she and her mother had welcomed American GIs liberating the area.

Her mother was no longer alive and childhood friends had long since perished in Buchenwald and Auschwitz.

Mrs Krain leaves her two daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The family has arranged a private funeral.

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