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Melbourne, Australia






I, Ingrid Hella-Maria Stephen (nee Barth) was born on 28th September 1940 in Tehran, Persia at a private clinic of Frau Franke. Both my parents had been living and working in Tehran for three years, father as a metallurgist and mother as a housewife. They had very happy years in Tehran and loved the country and its people. War broke out between Russia, England and Germany and in 1941 my father was taken as a prisoner of the war, men only, and transported to Australia. My mother and I, together with the women and children, were transported back to their homeland Germany. It was a horrendous trip where we were treated very badly by the Russian army inside Persia, until we arrived via Turkey and finally Vienna and then to Nordhausen, Eastern Germany, where I lived for the next five years with my mother, aunt and grandmother.

My mother did not know for two years where her husband was. To then join him in Australia was difficult from a war-torn Germany and so my mother and I, now five, lived with my uncle in Stockholm, Sweden, where I started school, until we were able to get a passage on a Swedish freighter “Parakoola” that took us over eight weeks sailing to Melbourne, Australia. My parents were so happy to be reunited, but it took me a while to get used to a father figure. I started school in 1948 at Yarra Park State School. I loved school and was in a class of other refugees to learn the English language. We then as a family moved to a rented house in Kew and I attended Kew State School for one year. In 1951 I was enrolled in a private girls school, Ruyton Girls School, which I attended till 1957. In 1958 I started nursing at The Alfred Hospital. I loved my three nursing training years at such a large prestigious general hospital and made many friends.

In 1961, after I had graduated, I left for overseas to visit relatives in Germany and work in London. My qualifications were accepted in the UK. I worked and travelled for two years and then in 1963 flew home to be a school friend’s bridesmaid. In the wedding party was a man I married one year later, John Kennedy Stephen. He was finishing a Commerce degree at the University of Melbourne and after we were married in 1964 we again left for overseas to work and travel. We had a wonderful two years and when we returned I was six months pregnant with our first born Peter John; 18 months later followed Katrina Ingrid and 2 ½ years later our third child was born, Sonya Elinor.

Our lives were busy with work and three children. I nursed for all the years, most of them in the Operating Theatre in a large private hospital, Cabrini. In later years I also spent two years in a research program for juvenile diabetes and then after retiring several times, which I found hard, I worked four years in Aged Care. This I found most rewarding as I also got older. I finally retired in 2008, 50 years after starting my nursing in 1958. I loved all those years of that profession.

After retirement John and I have had wonderful years of travelling, visiting friends and relatives overseas also enjoying life at our beach house. We have also loved our many years of off road camping throughout Australia. We have six grandchildren living close by and we see several times per week and love seeing them grow and achieve. John and I play golf and are very active in all ways and enjoy many friends.

German Civilians of Persia
  • Ingrid's father, HANS BARTH (R36386) was one of the German internees from Persia.

© 2020-2023 Designed by P. KHOSRONEJAD

                     Dr. Pedram Khosronejad | Adjunct Professor

     Religion and Society Research Cluster | Western Sydney University

Fellow | Department of Anthropology | Harvard University


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