Insight

Father and son share real life Valkyrie story in WWII podcast

SAE grad, Simon Reich has released World War II podcast series, Up from the Rubble. The series tells the story of Simon’s father, Manfred Reich, a war survivor who overcame adversity and was only 50 metres away from where Adolf Hitler shot himself in an underground bunker.
Collage of family images. Text reads Up from the rubble. Cover art for SAE student Podcast, Up From the Rubble.

Simon graduated from SAE Melbourne last year, with a Bachelor of Audio degree. In Up from the Rubble, he explores his father’s survival in Nazi Germany and one of the most pivotal moments in history.

“The film, Valkyrie, gives a good illustration of the situation my father found himself in when he was only a young boy,” Simon shared.

“There was a small rebel group within the German High Command that were plotting to assassinate Hitler. My grandmother was the live-in cleaning lady at one of the conspirators’ houses and when the plot failed, my father and grandmother escaped to avoid being killed.

“When Hitler shot himself, my father was only 50 metres away in an underground bunker fearing for his life. They were fortunate to be liberated by a group of kind Soviet personnel.”

Simon was aptly supported in story drafts and audio production by sound supervisor Evan Howell, who graduated from SAE Melbourne with a Bachelor of Audio this year. Evan was immediately drawn to the project as a consequence of his own German grandparents, and their traumatic experiences from World War II.

In the podcast, Simon said that his father shared a traumatic experience when the Allies bombed their five storey apartment block.

“They blew up the top storey and that caused all the subsequent storeys to collapse – leading to my father and grandmother fleeing down to the basement, where they were trapped for two days, as they dug themselves out with their hands.”

One of the major aspects of the series is the music, which was composed by Simon, and incorporates a string quartet from Australia’s oldest and most prestigious music institution, the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

“I wanted a piece that was timeless. Using modern instruments like synthesizers wouldn’t have done the story justice, so I opted for the emotional weight of a string quartet with piano music.”

During the four-part production, Manfred’s arc tells the story of how a war torn refugee immigrated to Australia to find peace.

“At a time when the issue of refugees is a controversial topic, my aim has been to show how people migrating from war torn countries can be a huge benefit to not only their new community, but reflect well on their country of origin.”

Towards the end of the podcast Simon added that his father has some wisdom for the leaders of today.

“After all the destruction and carnage my father saw in Berlin 1945, he thought there would never be another war. Unfortunately, since the end of World War II, there have been countless wars and some still persist today. As my father rightly said – society has learnt nothing!”

Following the success of the podcast, Simon is continuing to explore further stories about European migrants that travelled to Australia following World War II.

“I have been lucky enough to land contracts with the Bonegilla Migrant Museum in Albury-Wodonga, and gather first hand stories of immigrants that passed through the Bonegilla Migrant camp before heading off to jobs around Australia.

“There is a vast tapestry of war torn stories across Australia – I’m looking forward to sharing some of these with listeners.”

Bearded man working on an audio desk

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