"NEBEN MIR IMMER (always next to me). "
- Patricia, Ernst's wife.
Ernst Korsch's journey from growing up in Klosterneuburg, Austria in the midst of World War II, to finding a safe life in Australia was far from easy.
At 18, Ernst joined the German Navy, training in the Netherlands and Germany, first on anti-aircraft guns, then on submarines for a year. He became unwell on a U-Boat in Kiel and ended up in hospital. When he came out, he was transferred onto Minesweeper M510 and travelled from the Russian border to Denmark for the duration of the war, spending most days exploding mines laid by the British Airforce.
In May 1945, his group surrendered to Scottish soldiers in Copenhagen. Ernst kept working for the British looking for mines until December 1945 before heading off to his brother Viktor's farm in Germany where he stayed for 18 months. His brother, born 1910, was captured in Normandy and became a POW.
After the farm, Ernst returned home to Klosterneuburg and undertook an apprenticeship as a butcher. He lived with his mother Maria (nee Bubnik) who was born 1878 in Slovakia and died in 1962. His father, also named Ernst, had died in 1940, aged 61.
In 1949, his older sister Ria (born 1914) and brother-in-law Karl Fischer sponsored Ernst to come to Australia on the Toscana. Ria and Karl had come to Sydney in 1947 after spending seven years in Shanghai, China, to escape the Nazi regime.
Ernst met his wife-to-be Patricia on the beach at Coolangatta. He asked her "do you know where there is a continental restaurant". Patricia, at 18 years old from Murwillumbah had no idea what he was talking about - in 1954, continental was steak, salad and chips.
They married in December 1955 and had one child, a daughter Bettina, who was born in April 1957.
Ernst was never without a job. He always worked very hard, eventually running his own contract cleaning business. He was still working at aged 85 as a handyman and gardener. He also loved working in his own garden.
Ernst died peacefully in Macquarie Lodge Aged Care at Arncliffe, aged 96 years.
He will be sadly missed by Patricia, Bettina, Michael and grandchildren Elke and Edward.
NEBEN MIR IMMER (always next to me).