Being a British colony, we have all heard all the terrible stories of the blitz in WWII. But no war is one sided and the British gave it back to Germany as well. During those dark and terrible days, my great-grandfather would spend his nights on the extremely steep roof of their house in Leipzig, Germany, armed only with fire-fighting equipment. As the bombs and fire rained down, he protected that house and almost miraculously it survived the war.
Fast forward to 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. It was at that point that my grandparents who had escaped communist East-Germany shortly after the war received some amazing news. They had made the decision to leave and had only been able to take with them one small suitcase of the essentials each. After many trials and tribulations ended up in Australia, a country that they loved and absolutely adopted as their own. But they had to start over again, build up a life from scratch.
The amazing news they received was that the house my great-grandfather had so valiantly protected was still standing and abandoned by them had been taken by the Communists. With the fall of communisim, it was being returned to its owners - my Grandparents! As they had no desire to move back to Germany, they sold it and with some spare money for the first time in their lives, they helped my parents buy a holiday house at the coast.
The coast house is our oasis. It is our healing place, somewhere for celebrations, for relaxing, for living the best parts of life. To be blunt, it is a pretty ugly house, it has features including astroturf balconies, but it is comfortable and has a view that can't be beaten. We all love it here and I hang out for any time I can spend enjoying it.
But without the bravery of my Great-Grandfather all those years ago, we couldn't have this place. So every time I come here, I think of the man I never met and how he is still having a very important impact on my family, all these years later.