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Evelyn and Hartmut’s golden wedding anniversary

Retirement Living Retirement Stories
  • IRT Kangara Waters’ couple Hartmut and Evelyn celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year
  • The couple met and were married in Berlin
  • A work opportunity saw the family move to Australia permanently
  • Their golden wedding anniversary is the month before IRT’s 50th birthday
06 September 2019
Hartmut and Evelyn at IRT Kangara Waters in 2019.
Hartmut and Evelyn at IRT Kangara Waters in 2019.
So what’s the secret to a long marriage?
“Persistence and loyalty, and love of course.”
Professor Hartmut Kaebernick AM
IRT resident

A disco in Berlin set the scene for Hartmut and Evelyn Kaebernick’s first meeting.

Evelyn was 16 at the time and the regulations were that she would have to leave the disco at the 10pm curfew.

“It was after 10pm when I got a tap on my shoulder,” Evelyn says.

Evelyn panicked as she thought it might be the police asking her to leave. But it was a young man by the name of Hartmut who wanted to dance.

They sat down together and Hartmut showed Evelyn his student identity card.

“I got a shock when I saw his birthdate,” she says. “I thought he was 18.”

Hartmut was 23 at the time so Evelyn didn’t immediately share the news with friends that she’d met someone, but it was meant to be. The couple got engaged a year later and were married (with Evelyn’s father’s signed permission) when she was 19.

They reflected on their wedding day on 3 October 1969. “We had a white horse-drawn coach,” says Hartmut. “The wedding was at a hotel in Berlin,” says Evelyn.

For the couple, 1969 was a busy time planning a wedding, Evelyn was doing exams and Hartmut was studying at university.

Hartmut remembers that during 1969 in Berlin it was always about the Cold War.

Berlin was a divided city – with the Berlin Wall separating east and west and the Kaebernicks lived in the west. The Soviet Union occupied East Germany and it was a communist state.

“John F Kennedy visited Berlin [in 1963] and said ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ which is ‘I am a Berliner’. That was a very famous statement.”

The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 – three years after the couple and their young daughter Melanie had immigrated to Australia.

Hartmut and Evelyn’s wedding in Berlin on 3 October 1969.
Hartmut and Evelyn’s wedding in Berlin on 3 October 1969.

Evelyn was always quite interested in moving to Australia but in the beginning Hartmut wasn’t convinced. “I was reluctant to start but in 1982 we decided to holiday in Australia and we all loved it,” Hartmut says.

During their holiday Hartmut, an engineer, made some work contacts and the CSIRO came back and offered him a 12-month contract in Melbourne. So the family arrived in Melbourne in 1984.

After 12 months in Australia the family returned to Hamburg, as Hartmut held a professorship at the University of Hamburg at the time, only for him to be offered the opportunity to set up a research laboratory in Sydney.

“After a long period of thinking we said yes,” he says.

And the family has been here ever since. Today, IRT Kangara Waters is home for Hartmut and Evelyn and their daughter and her family live in Canberra too.

So what’s the secret to a long marriage? “Come back together after each fight,” says Hartmut. “Persistence and loyalty, and love of course.”

For Evelyn she says all marriages have their ups and downs. “You never live in heaven all the time.”

To celebrate their golden wedding anniversary, Evelyn and Hartmut and friends are holidaying in Jervis Bay.

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