by John Clarke
For over forty years Dieter Fabig has been the German Voice on 5EBI Radio Adelaide. At the last meeting of the German speaking group Kaffee und Kuchen Dieter spoke of his life.
His early years were spent in Breslau. Under communist rule it was a hard time, but young Dieter was shielded from the stresses of everyday life until, when he was eight years old, his grandfather died. They had been very close. That tragedy for the small boy was followed by another when his mother fell ill with cancer. In the 1950s little could be done for cancer sufferers.
After his mother’s death he was taken in by an aunt in Hamburg, and there he completed his schooling. He became an apprentice to a painter, and he recalled that one of his first jobs was to go to the pub and fetch beers for his boss and the senior workers. Drinking on the job was not frowned upon. His work as a painter opened opportunities to travel. He lived in Lindau on Lake Constance and later in Liechtenstein, before returning to Hamburg. He seemed settled and became engaged, but the lure of faraway places and a better life was strong, and he decided his future lay in Australia. His fiancée did not share that view.
He arrived alone in Adelaide in 1968. Over the next few years he worked for several companies, his work taking him as far as Ceduna. He set up his own painting business, first with a partner and later, when his partner became ill, on his own.
But work, though he was becoming increasingly successful, was not his entire focus. He joined the German Club and eventually became the youngest president in the Club’s history. It was through the Club, at a dance, that he met his wife. His duties as president meant meeting some prominent people, including Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor at the time of Germany’s reunification, and Queen Elizabeth II. He remembers his wife practising curtseying at home, no doubt to the amusement of their three children. He was a founding member of German Aged Care and served as its chairman.
Perhaps seeking relaxation, in 1981 he began volunteering with 5EBI Radio Adelaide on the German Voice, presenting programmes in the German language. He now hosts a two hour Monday to Friday programme Morning Music Vitamins.
The next Kaffee und Kuchen meeting will be held at the Langmeil Centre, 7 Maria Street, Tanunda on Monday, 27 June, starting at 1 pm.