A regular fixture at INC cultural events, this month we take a look at the rich tapestry that makes up, Australian, Mother of 2, former librarian, Angela Daley´s life spanning several continents thanks to the pioneer spirit of her parents who left behind war-torn Germany.
Growing up in Melbourne your mother tongue at home was German – why was this?
My parents were from Germany and Montenegro respectively. They migrated to Melbourne four months before I was born and decided to retain the German language and many German customs as well. Many of which we have kept to this day such as the annual chocolate Easter Egg hunt and holding a German-style Christmas dinner on 24th December.
Your father was originally Serbian and spent time as a Prisoner of War in Pompeii, did he ever speak about his experiences during the war?
My father fought for Yugoslavia in World War II. Many of the battles were brutal and he lost endless comrades. Eventually he was caught by Italian soldiers and spent two years in a prisoner of war camp in Pompeii. He never spoke about his experiences in the war but whilst my sister and I were growing up he suffered dreadful nightmares from those days and would often wake up screaming. Enduring the war and captivity developed my father’s survival skills and these certainly came in handy when he moved to Australia.
Your mother had to flee from what is now Poland to West Germany by foot during World War II, did she ever talk about her wartime experiences?
My mother also suffered trauma. She had been brought up in a wealthy home and was being groomed to take over her father’s empire. However, in February 1945 the Russians attacked the East German city, Breslau, where she lived and her family had to flee on foot. My mother did talk to us about some of her experiences during the war but she mainly focused on telling us stories about her happy childhood before that period.
Her family finally settled near Münster in North West Germany. My mother had studied English at university and was employed by British forces responsible for the repatriation of former German prisoners of war. My father was one of those prisoners and the rest is history !!! After getting married my parents decided to leave the ravages of war behind them by migrating to Australia.
What was Melbourne like during the 1950´s and 1960´s?
Melbourne was very different from how it is today. It was mainly populated by people of Anglo- Saxon descent, the level of culture was limited and the food was quite plain. Today the city is a thriving metropolis filled with people from all over the world. It has amazing restaurants offering all sorts of cuisine and culture abounds all around.
Have you been to Montenegro where your father was born?
Yes. My mother died suddenly in 2005 and my father became very depressed. They were lifelong soulmates. As a surprise we flew from New York to Niksic, Montenegro where my father was born and I phoned him from there. It was a special moment for us both.
You have enjoyed a long career as a librarian, what was it about law librarianship that appealed to you?
It brought an excitement to my work as a librarian that I had never experienced before. Loads of interesting and challenging legal research and pressure through deadlines. I loved it all!!!
Your first overseas posting with your husband was in New York, how did you find life over there?
New York is an amazing city to visit and it literally never stops. But trying to live a normal life in Manhattan did have its moments!!!
You then moved to Washington, how did that posting compare to New York?
Washington is also an amazing city but it was difficult for me to meet people and to feel like I belonged. Lots of networks exist but mainly in the sphere of foreign affairs and the military.
What brought you to Madrid?
My husband jokingly says that he is a “failure at retiring “!! He has had a few attempts. For a couple years he has been on the board of a Spanish company and he had recently even been considering attempting retirement once again. However, following a twist of events at a board meeting in Madrid in October 2019 he unexpectedly became the company’s full time CEO!!!
What’s unmissable for you in Madrid?
I love everything about Madrid and Spain. But more than anything I am very attached to Meninas in all shapes and forms.
Name a book that has inspired you and why?
“Spain” by Jan Morris. This beautifully written book is filled with heaps of interesting information on the history, geography and culture of España.
We are both keen linguists, what is it about languages that you love in particular?
Learning other languages opens up your mind to other cultures and gives you the ability to embrace and to feel part of them so much more.
What is Angela Daley’s motto for life?
Each day is precious!! Enjoy it to the full!!!