During his days growing up in Wangaratta Simon Reich did not ask his Berlin-born father about his childhood in Nazi Germany.
It was something his siblings instinctively knew not to dwell on.
Born in Berlin in 1937, two years before World War II began, Manfred Reich's formative years were spent in and out of bomb shelters as he and his single-mother attempted to stay alive.
Now his father is 83 years old, Simon is creating a documentary about his life.
"We knew the tip of the iceberg of the story," Simon said.
"I don't really know why we never really asked more, maybe there was a feeling in us that this is probably a bit of a dark area. He kept a lot of these stories deep inside."
Simon said Manfred had opened up as he aged especially now his wife Mandy was ill.
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"When you're younger you look up to your dad a bit like he's someone bigger than life," he said.
"The thought he was near Hitler and was involved in some fairly unique things, I thought this is incredible, this is my dad. But as I learnt more about it and the horrible things he'd seen, I also felt a bit sorry for him, I think that also explained some of the way he acted in his life too."
Simon said no one spoke of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when Manfred was young, but his childhood memories resurfaced on occasions like 9/11.
"Nowadays the way we approach things like mental illness and PTSD is quite different to back then," he said.
"He was quite a lone ranger, I think because he and his mum had to fight their way all across Germany avoiding getting shot, they pretty much just had to cut off their emotions and fire on.
"It was a case that the tough survive and I think he took that idea into his life and put up a bit of a shell and tough exterior. That gradually softened as time went on."
Simon said he was shocked to realise just how many pivotal moments in history his dad had witnessed.
He said Manfred and his mother were live-in domestic help for a lawyer involved in the 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler. When the plot failed, Manfred and his mother had to flee. On the day Hitler shot himself, Manfred was in a bunker just 50 metres away.
"It was one of the most pivotal moments in our 20th century history and there's my dad, an eight-year-old, in a bunker not far away," he said.
"When Kennedy went over and said he would not give up on the city... once again Dad was there in the crowd listening to the Ich bin ein Berliner speech. He certainly was at some pivotal moments."
Manfred first visited Wangaratta during a working holiday in 1958 and was so enamoured he bought a block of land. After returning to Berlin, he and Adelaide-born wife Mandy settled permanently in Wangaratta in 1963.