Benalla Migrant Camp 1949-1967

Horst und Rena Farken

FARKEN Horst und Rena

Germany (Berlin) 1960-1962

Farken Story

Written down by Sabine Smyth after interviewing Horst Farken in his home in Benalla in late 2012.

Horst supplied a range of photos from his family albums dating from 1960, the year he and his late wife Rena and kids arrived at Benalla Migrant Camp under the Assisted Migration Programme from Bremerhaven in Germany.

Horst remembers: "We paid for our passage. We arrived at Princes Pier and people were given green or yellow tags. We were given a green ticket and had no idea why. Then we found out green disembarks first, good. From there we went in two big train loads to Bonegilla. We could not believe how rickety the trains were. And driving through the yellow landscapes - we thought it was a desert."

"The first stop was in Seymour and that was the first big shock. We had such strange tasting food and about 700 people in that dining room. Everyone got two saveloys and lots of mash. We ate what we could but when we left, we saw 700 plates left with peas. They had that funny added mint taste."

At Bonegilla I remember Ralph Paez from Renold's Chains in Benalla came recruiting and he was looking for a fitter and turner. He interviewed me and I got the job.

"When we got to Benalla from Bonegilla by train, we were picked up in two cars and Mr Pastuszka welcomed us in the camp. Guido Mohren was the leader of the camp committee. Because we were a family with four kids, we got three rooms in the camp - one of the parents, two for the kids.

I used to go hay-cutting on the weekends. Mr Pastuszka was the cook. We used to pick up the food from the canteen and then Rena used to spice it up and make it tasty back in our rooms on a little cooker. I think the conditions for migrants got better and better - by the time we got to Australia, there was no more having to work for two years wherever you were sent. You took what work you could get first and then you looked for better work eventually. "

"I remember in 1962 we got the first TV in the camp's common room. Kids were allowed to watch TV until 4 pm."

Horst und Rena FARKEN
Horst und Rena Farken - Germany

Benalla Migrant Camp School Pupil Register

Name Date of Birth Parent Camp Date
Hans Farken Thursday 22nd March 1951 Horst 24/10/1960
Manuel Farken Saturday 10th January 1953 Horst 24/10/1960
Regina Farken Saturday 28th January 1956 Horst 07/02/1961

Records in Benalla Cemetery for FARKEN

Please note that the records retrieved from Benalla Cemetery do not mean that the individuals listed were camp residents, they merely share the surname.
They are presented in that they may be of assistance for genealogical purposes.

Name Died Age Burial Location
Manuel FARKEN 1970 17YRS PRESBYTERIAN External Link
Rena Hedwig FARKEN 1997 69YRS LAWN External Link
Horst Paul FARKEN 2021 92YRS LAWN External Link