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Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas brings back many memories


Memories of childhood days and how things were in that almost mythical place "back home." Well, thanks to the internet, "back home" is not all that far away anymore and after a bit of searching, I discovered several pictures of my old hometown Braunschweig in Germany which brought back plenty of memories:

The traditional "Weihnachtsmarkt" (Christmas Market) in the "Burgplatz" seems to have hardly changed at all, right down to the Gingerbread House which looks just like I remembered it from my childhood days. Even though I couldn't afford to buy any more than the occasional candied apple or fairy floss on a stick, I was there every day and often stayed until well after dark when all the coloured nights were turned on and the smell of "Bratwurst" and freshly roasted nuts wafted through the icy air.

Antiquariat auf dem Burgplatz

Later, in the three years from 1960 when I served my articles in the insurance office of the "Hamburg-Bremer Feuer- Versicherungs-Gesellschaft" just around the corner from the "Burgplatz" in the "Münzstraße", I would often visit a tiny book antiquariat tucked away in a corner of the "Burgplatz". Imagine my surprise when I found on the internet a photograph of the very same bookshop still in business today! Some things never change! It almost makes me want to go back and rummage through those old books again.

No Karl May for me in those days; I had already progressed to Heinrich Böll's "Wanderer, kommst Du nach Sparta..." ("Stranger, Bear Word to the Spartans We...") and Erich Maria Remarque's "Im Westen nichts Neues" ("All Quiet on the Western Front"). For some lighter reading, I read and re-read Heinz Helfgen's "Ich radle um die Welt", Heinrich Harrer's "Sieben Jahre in Tibet" ("Seven Years in Tibet"), and Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon-Tiki". Another one of my heroes was Dr Albert Schweitzer who did such beautiful humanitarian work at Lambaréné in Gabon. All our dreams begin in youth.

Münzstraße in Braunschweig

There hasn't been much change in Braunschweig's "Münzstraße" either! Looking down the right-hand side of this photograph taken from the internet, I still see the very building I served my articles in: it has a white car parked alongside it and a yellow "Café" sign to its right. My office was on the top floor facing the street. The windows overlooked a large bombed-out gap in the buildings on the other side of the street which has since been built out. The "Rathaus" (Town Hall) is just down the street.

Sanierte Wohnungen in Braunschweig

This picture of an apartment building which was recently "saniert" (redeveloped) could be the one I grew up in along the "Cyriaksring", except that it now has fancy balconies added to it and even fancier roof-top apartments. The original structure is still as I remember it. Mind you, in my days none of the tenants owned a car let alone a Mercedes; you were lucky indeed to own a bicycle! Some things do change after all!