THEY have lived their lives on separate sides of the globe – one in Russia, the other in Australia.
Michail Boldyrew, who turns 92 on Tuesday, had an emotional first meeting with his brother Ivan Boldyrew, 72, after the younger brother’s plane touched down at Newcastle Airport on Monday.
Ivan Boldyrew had spent two days undertaking four flights from Rostov-on-Don, Russia, with his grandson, also named Ivan, 28, to Australia.
The brothers clung to one another and wept in the arrivals lounge of the airport upon seeing each other.
“I feel terrific,” Michail Boldyrew said through his tears. “It’s the first time I have seen him and I am 92 tomorrow.”
Meeting his only sibling was a good birthday present, he said.
The back story of the brothers is typical of many in Europe during and post World War II.
At just 16 years old Michail Boldyrew was taken from his family in Russia to Germany where he was forced to work as a labourer, according to his daughter Tamara Flanagan, of Bangalow.
“The Germans would take the eldest boy and then they would come back and take the next one,” Ms Flanagan said. “They had to do different jobs.”
Ivan Boldyrew was yet to be born. Mr Boldyrew would never see his father again. His mother would visit Australia only once.
At the end of the war, Mr Boldyrew was one of 11 million foreigners freed from Germany by the allies.
He came to Australia in 1953 by boat seeking a better life for his young family, but in doing so he left his family-of-birth behind.
He brought with him his Ukrainian wife Katie.
The couple met at an army camp dance in Germany. They married in 1947.
Their son Alex was born in the camp and Ms Flanagan was later born in Belgium.
After the war, Mr Boldyrew worked in the coal mines of Belgium under a deal which meant he could immigrate to Australia after two years labour.
In Australia, they first lived at a camp for new settlers at Nelson Bay.
Speaking no English, the couple had to teach themselves the language from food labels.
Their youngest child, Michael, was born at Stockton Hospital – making them a family born across five countries.
Mr Boldyrew found work at the BHP steelworks as a rigger and moved the family to live in a milk shed with only a concrete floor and no electricity for a year.
The family also spent time living in the garage of a friend's house before buying land at Fern Bay. He later built a home for his family at Fern Bay.
Ivan Boldyrew and his grandson will spend 19 days in Australia with extended family before returning to Russia.