Kurt Lance – picture by Daily Telegraph
Respected , admired and loved husband of Dorothy. Honoured for his contribution to Snow Skiing, Water Skiing, Bush Fire Brigade and Environment Protection.
Will be sadly missed by friends and the community.
His Legacy Will Live On For Future Generations
Family and Friends of Kurt are warmly invited to attend a Service To Celebrate His Life to be held at the Hawkesbury Church Cnr of Brabyn and Macquarie Streets Windsor on Friday 2nd August 2013 commencing at 11.00am.
An After Celebration will be held at Kurt’s Book Launch of “Flame Of Leviticus” at the Kosciuszko Room Thredbo commencing at 6.00pm on the 15th August 2013.
RSVP to – firstname.lastname@example.org
It is with deep sorrow we report the passing of Kurt Lance a true knight of the people with a deep passion for his adopted country Australia.
Kurt has been a member of SOS-NEWS since our inception in 2002, corresponding and contributing a true gentleman and will be missed by many for his dedication to fair dinkum environment protection, the bushfire service and his love of snow Sking he brought from his birthplace Austria.
These passionate words by journalist Miranda Devine of Kurt are a fine tribute to a great man.
A special man
Miranda Devine –, Saturday, July, 13, 2013, (11:56pm) Daily Telegraph
IT IS a rare gift for a journalist to meet a person whose knowledge, intellect and clarity of thought shine through the fog of information like a beacon of truth.
Kurt Lance is such a man. He became a staple in my reporter’s contact book more than a decade ago as a bushfire brigade volunteer with enormous practical knowledge.
He had an abiding contempt for incompetent bureaucracies and well understood the ideology creeping through the Green movement at that time, which cared so little for people.
He was the Cassandra who warned us that the failure to manage fuel loads in national parks with regular hazard reduction would lead to catastrophic bushfires.
He knew that the loss of life and property was a human failure, not an inevitability to be blamed on arsonists or climate change. He has been one of the few people brave enough to speak out against the pack and educate those willing to listen..
But little did I know that this old farmer in Ebenezer, with a charming Austrian accent and a rare talent for clear expression, had lived such an extraordinary life: a child of the Holocaust, champion skier, soldier, pioneer of the Australian ski industry, mechanic, successful businessman, refugee, survivor.
He was too humble to boast, but I have just read the manuscript of his biography, Flame Of Leviticus, which I will be launching in Thredbo next month. He has been planning to ski the Masters’ competition there at the same time, at the age of 88, having last competed three years ago.
Kurt’s story is a boy’s own adventure of a wilful, politically aware 13-year-old in Vienna in 1938, who heard the drumbeat of war before his parents and determined to take his destiny into his own hands.
He ran away from home, swimming across a river to Czechoslovakia under the nose of Nazi soldiers. He found a job pulling beers in an alehouse, and impressed various adults along the way so they helped him.
But he feared for his parents when he heard from a Russian soldier about Kristallnacht, “the night of the broken glass”, November 9-10, 1938, when Nazis attacked Jews and ransacked their homes and businesses in Germany and parts of Austria. He immediately made the hazardous journey home to help his family.
The story of how this brave, fierce boy defied the Nazis and rescued his broken father from Dachau would bring you to tears.
The book also cracks open the inner Kurt Lance, the gentle romantic who loves women, who remained true to his first wife Sylvia and who cared for her when she had Alzheimer’s disease until she had to go to a nursing home, where she died.
Then he found love with Dorothy, who had been the matron of the nursing home where his wife had lived. They married on his 80th birthday.
A self-described rogue, Kurt embodies the manly virtues, of stoicism, fortitude, justice and humility. His story is an ode to the nobility of honest hard work and the possibility of redemption. It is also a spiritual journey that brought a man back to God.
While his parents fled to Shanghai before the war, Kurt was whisked to safety in Britain as one of 10,000 Jewish children on the Kindertransport mission. He was on his own from the age of 14, working like a navvy on an English dairy farm, and eventually fighting in the British Army against the Germans.
He drove tanks in Italy, went on daring missions behind enemy lines to blow up Nazi strongholds, and worked as a translator for army intelligence.
It was during the war he saw the tragic waste of badly managed bureaucracy.
During a difficult battle in northern Italy, his tank unit punched a hole in German fortifications so the 7th Armoured Division could forge though.
That was the plan. But, as Kurt tells it, “the generals managed a big stuff up”.
The 7th Armoured Division was in Rome on leave, and Kurt’s tank unit was devastated, half its men killed or injured.
The book is also a sort of history of skiing in Australia, in which Kurt has played such a large role over 65 years, receiving an Order of Australia for his contributions.
Skiing has been his life’s enduring passion since he first strapped on a pair of skis in Austria at the age of five under the tutelage of his dear Uncle Max, who would later die in a concentration camp.
He fell in love with downhill racing in northern Italy during the war and continued the sport in Thredbo.
Over the years, in numerous conversations, Kurt became my guide through the science of bushfire management and the perverse obstructionism of Green bureaucracy.
After one hugely destructive fire on Sydney’s northwest fringe in 2002, he invited me to the lovely tallowwood and ironbark farmhouse he had built on the Hawkesbury for a cup of tea, before taking me on a tour of the devastation.
He showed me melted trucks and warped signs, houses vaporised but for a few red tiles. The fire was so hot it split whole layers off ancient sandstone boulders, and burned so deep into the earth nothing would grow for years.
He wanted the world to understand that the failure to manage fuel loads had caused the inferno to burn so fiercely, and wreaked infinitely more damage on the environment than it should have.
Kurt is a genuine environmentalist, who once carved off a portion of his own farm as a wildlife reserve, and has fought against environmental degradation in his district and in the Snowy Mountains. Through force of will and the strength of his argument, he came to be invited onto government bushfire inquiries, where his testimony made a difference.
The great burden of 20th century tragedy and war has borne down on Kurt Lance but he survived to build a life of uncompromising integrity.
He concentrated on what he could fix in the world, not what had gone wrong, helping others as he was helped and contributing richly to his adopted country.
How fortunate Australia is to have had such a man