Winter Genre: Der große Schnee (The Big Snow)

There are several literary pieces and documentaries that focus on aspects of the Great Storm of 1978/79, and the catastrophic winter that followed, which brought the northern half of West Germany and all of East Germany to a complete standstill. The majority of the pieces have focused on the hardest hit areas of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein- in particular, the areas of Kiel and Flensburg.

Der Große Schnee (in English: The Big Snow), written by Helmuth Sethe of the Husumer Nachrichten (Husum News, part of shz, Inc.) focuses on both the Great Storm that started right before the New Year, plus the winter that followed, which included the winter storm on 13 February- a month and a half later. All of them affecting Schleswig-Holstein, but with a focus on the North Sea coastal area (Dithmarschen and greater Husum), as well as the cities of Flensburg and Kiel and the surrounding areas. It was originally written after the winter storm in February that same year, but has been edited and republished multiple times, with the last edition having been released in 2011.

There are several photos and stories that were in connection with the great winter disaster and were graphic in detail- with reports of people and animals both freezing to death while being snowed in, collapsed roofs because of the thickness of the snow, capsized boats and people treading through icy waters along flooded streets of coastal cities. Yet there were some glaring facts that are worth mentioning about this storm according to the writer. Here are the top five worth mentioning:

  1. Power outages- Many towns and villages were without power because of downed power lines due to ice. But no area was as bad as the districts of Schleswig-Flensburg and Nordfriesland. There, as many as 111 villages were without electricity for days, many of them were cut off from the rest of the world. Many had to make due with cutting up wood and creating fireplaces to keep warm.
  2. Stranded vacationers- Many vacationers were returning from Scandanavia when they were greeted by barricades at the German/Danish borders in Krusau and Ellund. Reason: The storm forced an executive order by the West German and state governments to shut down all traffic (rail and vehicular) on the German side. Traffic jams of more than 10 kilometers on the Danish side, plus stranded drivers seeking shelter were the result.
  3. Field Landing- When the state prime minister Gerhard Stoltenberg was finally informed of the current weather situation in Schleswig-Holstein (he and his family were on vacation at that time), he did not realize how bad it was until his helicopter had to land in a nearby field and he had to go by truck and sleigh to visit the hard hit regions. Reason: The snow had drifted in at the airports and with drifts as high as 6 meters, it was impossible for any aircraft to land even.
  4. The Sleigh as Transportation- With no possibilities with the car, many people had to make do with sleds, sleighs and even skis. It was not a rarity to watch people cross-country ski in the countryside during this time as the snow was thick enough to warrant it. Sleds were not only used for downhill fun, but also for shopping. It was a site to watch people pull their groceries home on an open sled.
  5. Flensburg as Little Venice- The storms produced a series of high tides (up to four meters) which flooded much of the city center and Roter Strasse, as well as everything along the Fjorde. Many people had to use boats to get by. These tides left another mess though- erosion, especially along the areas near Wassersleben near the Bridge of Friendship at the border.

There are many more examples to mention in the book, yet these five came to mind when reading this book myself. There have been countless other winter storms afterwards that crippled the region and brought with it high snow drifts, ice and flooding, including the last big snow storm in Flensburg in early 2018. But none was as glaring and captivating as the one from 40 years ago, especially when reading the accounts written by the editor. The book did bring back some memories of snow storms that I dealt with as a child growing up in Minnesota and a snowstorm of similar proportions happened shortly after this one, which left a big drift of a meter to the door of our house on a lake. Yet for those who lived through this harsh winter in northern Germany of 40 years ago, this book will bring back some memories of how one survived one of the worst of all time. So read it, share your stories, ask others about it. You’ll be amazed at the stories they will share about this event.

You can also watch some of the documentaries that were from the last entry by clicking here.

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Axel Slams Deutschland

View of Flensburg’s skyline from the Restaurant Heimathafen. Photo taken in December 2016. This area as well as at Hafenspitze and along Schiffbrücke were all underwater

Record Flooding along the Baltic Sea Coast- Flensburg, Hamburg, Lübeck, Wismar and Rostock among others underwater

Snowfall in most of Germany- heaviest in Saxony and Brandenburg

Pure Chaos on the Roads

Arctic Blast to Follow

FLENSBURG/CHEMNITZ/USEDOM- Much of Germany is cleaning up from a hurricane that broke 10-year old records along the Baltic Sea Coast, while others are bracing for one of the coldest spells in over seven years. That is the theme of the Low Pressure front Axel, as the weather system wreaked havoc through much of Germany yesterday and last night.  High winds combined with storm conditions resulted in water levels along the Baltic Sea coast to rise above the dikes and flood barriers, causing widespread damage. The hardest hit areas were in the Lübeck area as well as areas in Mecklenburg-Pommerania. According to information from NDR and SHZ, high waves overwhelmed dikes in areas, like the island of Usedom, destroying houses and businesses and flooding streets. The historic districts of Wismar and Lübeck were blocked off as many streets and pedestrian paths were underwater. Even Hamburg was not spared from the flooding and damage as much of its market Fischmarkt was underwater. The same applied to Rostock and Kiel, where automobiles were diverted away from their respective business districts. Cars parked along the water were flooded and/or swept away in Flensburg, Kiel and Lübeck while businesses and residents experienced flooding in their basements and ground floors. Flood levels surpassed those set in 2006 and 2002, respectively- an eye-opener to many who had expected less.  To see how bad the situation was, here are some samples:

More information can be found here:

http://www.shz.de/regionales/schleswig-holstein/panorama/gesperrte-strassen-volle-keller-sturmflut-2017-hinterlaesst-schaeden-an-der-ostseekueste-id15756981.html

http://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/Schwerste-Ostsee-Sturmflut-seit-2006-trifft-Norden,wetter2644.html

The storm front has also affected much of Germany with up to a foot of snow (30 cm) to be seen in the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) in Saxony, Thuringian Forest and the mountain regions in Bavaria. Low-plain areas also received some snow, but with that, ice and the result of numerous accidents. Over 200 accidents were reported in Saxony, according to the Free Press in Chemnitz, including many in Chemnitz and Freiberg as well as along the Motorway 4.  Like along the Baltic Sea coast, high winds in places like the Harz Mountains in Saxony-Anhalt and the Fichtel Mountains in Bavaria resulted in blowing snow and fallen trees. Here are some samples of the events in that region:

 

More information:

http://www.mdr.de/nachrichten/vermischtes/schneesturm-mittelgebirge-100.html

http://www.freiepresse.de/NACHRICHTEN/TOP-THEMA/Sachsen-Weiter-Behinderungen-durch-Schnee-und-Glaette-artikel9802250.php

While the storm front Axel will leave Germany by Friday, the system will bring another component many in Germany are preparing for: icy-cold temperatures. With temperatures going down to as far as -25°C, many places in Germany will experience cold weather in this fashion for the first time since early 2012, with records expected to be broken. After four winters with above-normal temperatures and some tropical Christmases, Old Man Winter is making a comeback with a vengeance, and right after the holiday season is over. That is unless you celebrate Epiphany, like in Bavaria and parts of Saxony-Anhalt. Then tomorrow will be a treat for children and families starved of white holidays. 🙂

2016 Christmas Market Tour: Freiberg (Saxony)

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The next Christmas market to visit on this year’s tour takes us to the far eastern part of Germany. Specifically, what we are talking about is the city of Freiberg in Saxony. Located between Chemnitz and Dresden in the eastern part of the state, Freiberg is located in the top half of the Erzgebirge (translated freely as Ore Mountains), one can feel the ascension to the top while travelling by train or car. But when arriving in the city, one sees a maze of streets and historic buildings, where if one finds a way to go down hill, fighting curves and cars, one will reach the market square- Obermarkt. This is the stage of the Christmas market, where the city hall serves as a backdrop and the statue of Otto the Great is surrounded by 90 different huts, a stage, one of the tallest moving Christmas pyramids in the region and lastly, one of the tallest Christmas trees in the mountain region. Since 1989, the time of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the Christmas market has been held here, which is ironic for most of the products a person will find at a German Christmas market come from the mountain which had once been part of East Germany and the socialist regime. This brought a question to mind: what was Christmas like during that period between the end of World War II and German Reunification, especially as the western half quickly reestablished its tradition? This would require some research which will surely mean some history lessons in the Files in the near future. 🙂

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And as Freiberg is located directly in the Erzgebirge, everything a person will see is clearly in connection with this theme: Gabled housing with several shades of brown and mahogany, statues of miners as well as chisels and lanterns, wooden products made locally such as pyramids, Räuchermänner, Lichterbogen (Christmas arches) and other Christmas decorations, local drinks including spiced wine and punch, and local eateries including Stollen and Pulsnitzer Kuchen (a fruitcake with cherries and almonds). In other words, simply Erzgebirgisch!

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Well, almost.

 

I found a couple stands that are worth noting for you on the next visit to the region. The first one was a Finnish stand, selling Grandma’s Manor House Cookies with filling. These are like our American Oreo cookies except they are made with a soft, sandy-like cookie dough and they come in several flavors, like vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut. There were other pastries that are typical of Finnland that are worth trying including mini-cakes and fruitcake. As I was trying each one from the lot, I had a chance to chat with the saleperson who originated from Afghanistan but has been living in Germany for over a year. A student at the University in town, she found the country to be a great place to make a living, but the language as one of the most difficult because of the grammar rules and vocabulary. If you look at this argument from a person having grown up with Arabic writing and Persian, one would agree. When asked about the amount of time one needs to learn German, my response is simple: Take your time. If you can speak English well enough to get around, German will come naturally, even if it takes a couple years to master it. This is speaking from experience. 😉

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After trying out and purchasing a package of goodies, I went onto my next booth, which is the Schloss Wackerbarth Winery. For 180 years, the winery, located inside a castle near Radebeul,  has been producing the finest wines and liquors in the state of Saxony. In connection with its celebration, one could find some stands in Mitteldeutschland, including some in neighboring Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. I had an opportunity to taste the winery’s finest spiced white wine, which tasted just right- not too sweet, but not like a typical  dry wine. The finest grapes are used for the wine and with that, just enough alcohol for flavor. No wonder why the wine is so good! 🙂

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And lastly, we have the crown of booths, the one selling silver accessories. Freiberger Zinngießerei (tin foundry). For over 500 years, Freiberg has prided itself in its mining of silver in the mountain regions near the city. Many foundries had existed to produce the goods needed for human needs, be it for the household or for defense. One of them was located in Freiberg. Even though its current foundry was established in 1992, its family tradition goes back many years. In 1998, the headquarters was relocated to Niederschöna where it has been ever since. According to the salesperson I talked to during my visit, silver is no longer mined, but the foundry still produces figures made of metal, which include several mining figures, animal figures, key chains, gargoyles and even an Amethyst Pyramid. As tin figures are exotic and difficult to find even in Saxony, it is highly recommended to visit the shop to find the best valuable gift. 🙂

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Yes, Freie Presse, I was the one who did this. And yes it was not cool. But it was also not cool to not have a bike rack available at the market.

Inspite of some great stands and events that take place at the Freiberg Christmas market, three key caveats were found that could help improve access to one of the most popular places in Germany. The first is providing signage and directions to the market. Given its maze-like infrastructure, it is very difficult to find the market, especially when there is a lot of traffic going through the city. Highways 101 and 173 cross in the city, but there is considerable traffic between the city center and the suburbs, including the train station, which sees 10 trains in both direction per hour per day. Therefore it is important to provide feasible directions and signage for drivers, bikers and pedestrians wishing to visit the market, even for an hour or two.

This brings me up to the second issue to settle, and that is access by bike. While the Christmas markets take place in December, people still go there by bike- even the author accessed the market by bike as had travelled by train to the station from the west. Biking to the city center proved to be a nightmare, for the streets were packed with cars, and in some cases, they were narrow enough that there was little space to pass. Regardless of time of year, it is important for Freiberg to follow the example set by the first city to do this: designate streets for bikes and push the traffic back as far away as possible to make the city center pedestrian and biker friendly. Have bike racks available for parking, instead of having to park it against the building of a local newspaper outlet, like the author did (and yes, I’m sorry to the Free Press for that). Also important: designate lanes on main streets for bikes so that they have space to share the road. We all know the city that started and even spearheaded this effort, and many other cities in Germany, including Saxony, have already taken steps to follow suit.

And lastly, as large as the Obermarkt is, it was quite disturbing to see the market blocked off with fencing and tarp with only one way in or out of the market- minus the city hall. Having such restricted access presents a feeling of isolation, especially as the market is in the middle of the shopping area, Freiberg’s city center has to offer, nor does it make much sense. During my visit in Kiel, the market (Weihnachtsdorf) at Rathausplatz was also restricted but had multiple entrances because of its proximity to the corridor connecting it with three other markets in the city center, as well as the port and train station.  Having more access to the market in Freiberg makes it feel more open to customers and enables them to move more freely than in its current feature. Plus in the event of an evacuation due to fire or storm damage, more access means more chances to escape and avoid any accidents.

Despite its shortcomings, Freiberg’s Christmas Market represents a typical but attractive Christmas market in the Erzgebirge region of Saxony. Most of the products sold there are made locally, yet a couple outliers are just as appealing and worth trying. The market is not so crowded, but better measures are needed for better access and to make the market safer. However, with one of the tallest pyramids in Saxony (at 15 meters), a good spiced wine with a good local sausage at the Bergbaude and some good company with the sales people from different regions, the Freiberg Christmas Market brings in many local specialties from the mountain region, and many locals and tourists alike, to honor the silver miners, celebrate hundreds of years of tradition, and talk about what Christmas was like in the region in the past, be it the East German period, or even before that. And with that, plus a good old-fashion lantern and chisel, I close with the slogan “Glück Auf”(Good luck), head to the next Christmas market, and like the miners, see how lucky I am. 😉

Photo Gallery:

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2016 Christmas Market Tour Part I: Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein

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Photos taken in November 2016

Moin, Moin, Ihr Lieben! Our first Christmas market on a quite adventuresome tour of 2016 takes us far north to Schleswig-Holstein and the city of Kiel. Located along the Baltic Sea coast, the city of 245,000 inhabitants is the largest of the big three ports located on a fjorde, providing shipping from places in the north and east. The other two are Lübeck and Flensburg. Kiel is the state’s capital and has its state parliamentary building located on the western side of the coast. Apart from two universities, the city prides itself on its traditional handball team THW Kiel, whose stadium is directly in the city center. It also has the annual convention of sailboats, clipper ships and yachts in June- the Kieler Woche, where over 100 countries take part in competition and display their best ships.  And while parts of Kiel, especially in the city center, appear quite crowded, there are two bright spots that make the city quite convenient and attractive: everything is centralized- especially the city center, and there are some great natural spots along the Baltic Sea and the Grand Canal (Baltic-North Sea Canal (Ger.: Nord-Ostsee Kanal)), as well as along the Schwentine River, which empties into the fjord near the University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule).

Maybe that Kiel Defense as practiced in a game of chess inspired the architects and city planners to be creative with their city designs…… 😉

As for the Christmas market, it is a whole different story.  The Christmas market is located only 300 meters north of Kiel’s Railway Station, beginning at Holstenplatz, but the market is spread out into three different places, all connected with a main shopping corridor known as the Holstenstrasse. A map at the end of this article shows you where the places are, starting with the train station and working the way up north.

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The Market at St. Nicolas Church- the church is in the background

Looking at the markets themselves, we’ll start off with the one on the northernmost end at St. Nicolas Church at the corner of Schlossstrasse and Schumacherstrasse. If one does some ice skating at the Ostseekai ice skating rink near the cruise liner port, the opportunity for a good Glühwein and something warm can be found at this place, as the huts serve as a compliment to the eateries nearby. This includes soups, fried fish sandwiches and even a Glühbier (mulled beer) or punch. For churchgoers, it is a great place to talk Luther and his Reformation of the Church while keeping warm. Yet apart from the spectacular view of the church at night, as well as at the Schwedenkai with its light-candied yacht overlooking the man-made pond, it’s all eateries with typical German delicacies-

unless you love beer, like this writer does. 😉

If so, just west of the market, there is the Kieler Brewery and Restaurant, located at Dänischstrasse on the north side of the market. Founded in 1988, the brewery has been producing its beer products including pilsners and those using beachwood directly at its original location. One can only purchase the beer there, which serves as another incentive to visit Kiel (apart from Kieler Woche and the handball games with the Zebras). The restaurant, which serves only local and seasonal specialties, has an interior that resembles a restaurant during the age of Luther: walled with stone with cast iron chandeliers and benches made of wood, making it look like knights, monks, reformers and musicians with bagpipes entering the scene, playing music and enjoying a good brew. I tried one of the originals (beechwood aged) and am pleased to say, the product aced the test because of its taste and thickness of the body. A solid 1,0 (A+) 😀

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Kieler Weihnachtsdorf at Rathausplatz

Moving further south along Holstenstrasse, laden with shopping centers and some huts, one needs to turn right at Fleethörn and Hafenstrasse and walk past two streets to find the Kieler Weihnachtsdorf, located at Rathausplatz near the city hall.  Flanked by the city hall to the south and the Opera House to the west, the market is rather traditional of German Christmas markets with its backdrop and settings. Unlike the uniformity in colors and hut design as one sees at a Christmas market in Bavaria and parts of Saxony and Hesse, this one was quite colorful, both figuratively as well as literally. Huts and stands of various sizes and colors blanket the whole market, decorated with white-lit natural green garland. The lining of lighted natural Christmas trees and other pine needle branches outside the market, combined with a unique entrance to the village, resemble a natural palace, made of wood. Since Kiel has a palace north of the Ostseekai in the old town, the theme of the Christmas market fits perfectly to one of the city’s prized historic landmarks.

As far as products being served at this village is concerned, I was somewhat disappointed that the majority of the products came from the western part of Germany, in particular Bavaria. No matter where a person went in this village, one will see one Bavarian site for every four. There were no stands that represented the other regions in Germany, in particular, Saxony, where most of the wooden products, like Räuchermänner, Pyramids and villages originate. There were a couple stands for Thuringian bratwurst and a couple stands providing products from Schleswig-Holstein, including a couple local eateries, but overall, it seemed to be typically Bayrish- too much Bavarian.  From a personal point of view, if you want to have a Christas market in a community, you should try and vary your products from regions, including areas unknown to others, as well as and especially local places. If you focus more on the commercial aspect- streamling certain regions over others, it will be rather monocultural. Having monocultural markets and events loses the appeal from others who can see similar markets and other events in other cities. This was my impression after seeing too much Bavarian at this place. One needs to dig deeper to find diamonds in the rough in terms of local and unusual goods- a very important rule of thumb for visiting a typical Christmas market. If you don’t want to see a Nuremberg Christmas market in a community, look hard for the localities, as they are there. Follow that with unusual places you will never find in a Christmas market elsewhere.

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How to make Flammlachs: Frying them to the fire before the fish is “pulled” and shredded.

There were a few cool places swimming in a pool of Bavarian goods at the Weihnachtsdorf. They included a liquour stand from North Rhine-Westphalia, a tea shop selling exotic teas some cooked in an “oven,”  a lobster stand from the island of Sylt, and a couple stands selling goods handcrafted  in and around Kiel (one of which I will mention in a later article). But have you ever heard of Flammlachs?

You have probably heard of pulled pork, as the recipe comes from America but has become very common here in Europe. Flammlachs goes along the same recipe, except you place your salmon or other fish on an oak board, and after adding the ingredients mentioned in the link above, put it as close to the fire as possible without burning the meat to be eaten. Then strip the meat, just like with pulled pork, leaving the fish bones behind, put them in a bun with lettuce and a twist of lemon and serve. While there is  sweet mustard and other sauces available, I took the advice of a local and ate it without it. All I can say is “Yummy!” 😀  Your trip to the Baltic Sea coast is not complete without trying a Flammlachs with a good local beer. Enough said!

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How to make Flammlachs: Sandwich with lettuce- best served without any sauce, according to locals

But as I made my trip to my last stop on the Kiel Christmas market tour, namely Holstenplatz, I found a few other local delicacies from Kiel and Schleswig-Holstein that are not only highly recommended, but in one case, very addicting.  The market at Holstenplatz is the longest market I had visited up until now, but also the most diverse of Kiel’s Christmas markets. A mixture of local products combined with handcrafted and international products from Estonia, Turkey and France can be found along three rows of huts that feature a various form of brown wood colors from mahogany to oak to even a light brown. The huts are far different in color patterns than the colorful display at the Weihnachtsdorf and the striped huts at St. Nick’s church, which makes them completely different, but attractive to the visitors. The market here is also decorated nicely with natural garland that is also lighted. Despite not having a Christmas tree, the trees lining along Holstenplatz are also lit at night, thus making the market not only colorful, but somewhat homey. 🙂

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Holstenplatz

Despite its very close proximity to the shopping areas and the main highway- Sophienblatt and Andreas Gayk Strasse- the market appears to be rather spacious, thus allowing for space to walk around and find a place to enjoy the specialties offered. The problem with space was one of the problems I’ve seen with many Christmas markets I’ve visited since starting the series in 2011, as many markets try to reduce “excessive” space by adding more stands and booths than necessary and in some cases, herding the people in and out of the markets like a person is in rush-hour traffic in a big city. This makes visiting a Christmas market more of a torture than fun. With the markets Kiel, space doesn’t seem to be the issue as there is enough. Given the proximity of the markets, this means that there is not so much crowding, especially on weeknights and weekends, which given the few people at the market, it was really comfortable to have a conversation with locals about goods worth tasting……

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A highly recommended local delicacy to try: Fliederbeersuppe with Griesklöße

……including this entrée, the Fliederbeersuppe (freely translated as currant soup). 🙂  Consisting of currant juice (highly concentrated), apple slices and Grießklöße (semolina dumpling), this soup is typical of Schleswig-Holstein and one that a person must try. I was skeptical when I first saw it and the response of the person selling this was a classic: “Are you diabetic?” My response was: “I’ve never tried it before, which is why I wanted to know more about it.” I later told her I was a columnist for the Files and talked about the series on German Christmas markets. I tried the soup in exchange for money and the address of this site. 😉 And there was no regret that it tasted really good. So good that it is sometimes addicting. A lady stopping at the stand as I was eating it with a hot cup of Lumumba (hot cocoa with rum) testified its addiction as she was going for her seventh bowl! Seven bowls is a bit over the top, but it shows that one really needs to taste it to believe it. 🙂

Before I got addicted, I left to check out the other goods, which included Kochwurst (cooked sausage) from a local butcher, and local pastry featuring filled donuts and Muzen, a boiling pastry with powdered sugar and also typical of the region. Unlike the donuts, which had apple, marzipan, advocaat, cherry and other fruit filling, this one is not filled and are small. Furthermore they taste best when they are hot- not necessarily from the deep fryer, but sometimes reheating them in the oven at 175°C for about 10 minutes should one decide to take them home to have the family try them, like I did (it was my last stop before moving on).  Given the fact that there was another stand serving Flammlachs, the market at Holstenplatz is your best place to try everything that is local and typical of Schleswig-Holstein, for the Weihnachtsdorf have predominantly Bavarian goods and the stands at St. Nick’s are mostly eateries and beverages- a hub for chatting monks and cheery families after having ice skated with Katarina Witt. 😉

Summing up the trip to Kiel, the Christmas market, featuring three different markets connected by the corridor Holsten Strasse is spacious and diverse. It’s an alternative to shopping at the shopping malls, for the huts and other shops provide some goods, eateries and beverages that are both typical of the region but also from other places in Germany and places in Europe. Given its closeness in the city center, they are easily accessible from the train station and the shipping ports, yet surprisingly, the number of people visiting the market is less than others. Given the fact that it was a weekday that I visited, comparing it to other Christmas markets, it is rather comfortable entertaining strangers and friends over a good local specialty. I bet it applies to weekend visits as well. Despite being surrounded by concrete, the market is easy to find because of the close proximity to the places in the city center, thus making it accessible by all means of transportation. In other words, even if the Christmas market is a diamond in the rough, it is easy to find.

And if found, that diamond is a lifetime’s worth; especially if you are a stranger in a strange land. 😉

More photos of the Christmas Market in Kiel:

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Tips on other Christmas markets the author has visited and written about can be found here. There, you will have some ideas on which places are highly recommended to visit.

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Supermoon in Germany

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JENA/ KIEL/ BERLIN/ CHEMNITZ/MANNHEIM-  Hundreds of thousands of people armed themselves with cameras, telescopes and Smartphones to capture this moment in time. On Tuesday, the supermoon made its visit to the European part of the world, including Germany. Between 5:00pm and 8:15am Berlin time, people had a chance to watch the moon rise and set, looking 20% bigger than it usually is. While many people were awed by its shades of red, peach and dark yellow color luminating the sky at moonrise and at moonset, its brightness- which was 30% more than normal- provided many photographers with a chance to take some pictures of the scenery, as the skies that evening were brighter than what it is with a normal full moon. This unusual phenomenon, which last happened in 1948, occurred when the moon was only 221,524 miles away from Earth. Its next such occurrance will happen in 2034- 18 years from now.

In Germany itself, much of the country was able to take advantage of at least the rise of the moon, as seen in the films taken below in Kiel, Berlin, Chemnitz and Mannheim. However, as the weather system bringing mild temperatures and showers started moving in, it became very difficult to take some pictures of the supermoon at its brightest. In my case, being stationed in Jena (Thuringia), I was lucky to get some grand opportunities and take some pictures of the moon- close-ups after moonrise at around 5:30pm, and when it was shining at its brightest while biking at around 9:30pm. A gallery of the pics are towards the end of this article. The pics included scenes with the landscape and the bike, including some sillouettes. Clouds started moving in shortly before 10pm, which was followed by rain a couple hours later, yet for those who did get the chance to do that, it was  one of a lifetime. But sometimes luck comes in twos, which means the next supermoon, for those who missed this one, will be here sooner than you think.

Enjoy the following film scenes and my pictures below! A link to another gallery of supermoon pics, courtesy of National Geographic, can be seen by clicking here. 🙂

 

(Source: Chemnitz Free Press)

 

 

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The Fight to Save Fehmarn Island from Progress

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Co-produced with sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles

FEHMARN, GERMANY-   Last fall, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles did a segment on the preservation of the Fehmarn Bridge, the first bridge in the world that carries the now popular basket-handle tied arch bridge span. The battle is part of the series where residents of Fehmarn Island are fighting with both the German and Danish governments to stop a project where the Migratory Bird Route, connecting Hamburg and Copenhagen, would be widened- both the highway and the railway. This includes new bridges to replace the Fehmarn Bridge and a tunnel on the opposite end connecting Puttgarden (D) and Rodby (DK). And lastly an industrial areal was planned for the island.  Unfortunately, despite the Areal being blocked earlier this year, the European Union, according to reports from the BBC, has given Denmark the green light to start the construction of the tunnel, by providing 589 million Euros in the next four years for the project.

Yet while the Danes are prepared to start work beginning this fall, residents of the island and the surrounding area along the Baltic Sea coast are up in arms against the project and have started their own initiative to stop the project.

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Tourists and locals have seen the blue X’es popping up in neighborhoods, along highways and beaches and even in the skies between Hamburg and Lübeck and the island itself. The Blue-X Initiative was adopted by the groups Preserve Fehmarn and Beltretter, with the purpose of showing support for preserving the island and stopping the project from taking place. Almost one in every three households have this on their lawns as a way of demonstrating solidarity against the project. And there are many reasons for this initiative:

1. The construction of the tunnel would coincide with the expansion of the highway and rail line going through the island as well as the construction of the new Fehmarn Bridge, resulting in the island becoming a construction site. As small as the island is, and with the economy being dependent almost solely on tourism, analysts predict a loss of up to 800 million Euros (or close to $1 billion) in revenue during the time of the construction because of loss of tourism and commerce, plus additional money to improve the island’s imagery once the project was completed, which could take years to complete.

2. The project would involve a loss of sensitive vegetation and marine life that would be immense and possible irreplaceable. This includes the plan to scrap the underground tunnel similar to the Euro-Tunnel connecting France and Great Britain in favor of one above the sea floor, similar to the Oresund Bridge and Tunnel between Copenhagen and Malmö (Sweden), which could be devastating to marine life alone. The width of the construction area between Puttgarden and Fehmarn Bridge would average approximately five kilometers. The maximum width of the island is only 21.8 kilometers- and this given the size of the land to be 185 squared kilometers!

3. Some discreptancies in the environmental and economic impact surveys conducted by Denmark have resulted in rechecking the figures. Alone with the economic impact survey released in January 2015 led to a debate on the credibility of both the Danish government, the conglomerate spearheading the tunnel initiative Fehmarn A/S, and even the European Union. While both Denmark and the EU claim that the new crossings would produce a revenue of 4-5% of the gross domestic product in the region or approximately 3.48 billion Euros ($5.5 billion), other surveys indicate that the loss of revenue through construction combined with years of recovery, the new crossing would net an annual loss of 6.7 billion Euros ($8.2 billion). For the residents on the island, the risk would be too high to take.

4. While there is a one-track rail line that is suitable for transport between Hamburg and Copenhagen including the time needed to cross via ferry, there is another border crossing at Flensburg and Padborg, where they feature a freeway and a two-track rail line connecting Hamburg with Aarhus with a arm going to Copenhagen via Odense. At the present time, improvements are being made in the Flensburg area to make the crossing more attractive. While the logic behind expanding the line through Fehmarn is there, little do government authorities realize that Fehmarn is a vacation and natural area whose need for a freeway/ two-track crossing on both ends of the island would devastate the natural habitat and impact tourism negatively. In other words, better to go through Flensburg if you wish to stay on the freeway going to Denmark and not stop to go swimming.

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While officials in Denmark are preparing to start building the tunnel from the Rodby end, officials in Germany are in the process of discussing the project with many parties involved. This after the application for the construction of the new Fehmarn Bridge, new freeway and tunnel was submitted to the state ministry of transport. The communities affected will have a meeting in September, followed by the environmental groups, including BeltRetter in November and residents affected by the construction afterwards. The ministry will then review the opinions and information provided by those affected before making their decision- a process that could take up to a year.  Proponents of the project have already received a backing from The German Railways (The Bahn) and German Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt, the former wanting to expand and electrify its rail line to run more ICE-Trains on there.

But with the opposition towards the project crystalizing and spreading beyond the region, problems will most likely excaberbate over the course of two years, especially when the blue X’es sprout up everywhere making the area as blue as possible. Since blue is the sign of clear water, the water people deserve to swim in and marine life to inhabit, it also is a sign of preserving things as they are. With more initiatives coming up and more support pouring in, there is a chance that the project could be stalled further or even scrapped. If this is the case, then there will still be some work to be done with its current infrastructure to keep it up to date, but residents will breathe a sign of relief, for having a mega-highway for the sake of expanding commerce is not necessarily what they want. In fact with all of information on the negative impacts, combined with questions involving the credibility of the sources, this project in the end will do more harm to the region than good. This is something no one is willing to gamble on.

The Flensburg Files and the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles are proud to support the initiative to preserve Fehmarn Island and its places of interest. Both columns will provide you with further updates on the latest involving the project. If you wish to take part in the initiative and want to donate for the right cause, please click on the following links. There you have information on how you can help.

Beltretter

Bewahrt Fehmarn (Preserve Fehmarn)

Comp2Kreuze CompKreuze Unknown-12 Unknown

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Special thanks to Mirko Kaminski for the use of the photos, as well as Karin Neumann and Hendrick Kerlen for their help in contributing some valuable information for this story.   

Germany Quiz 1: The Answers to the Questions about Schleswig-Holstein

Sheep grazing along the Eider outside Friedrichstadt with the railroad bridge in the background. Photo taken in 2012
Sheep grazing along the Eider outside Friedrichstadt with the railroad bridge in the background. Photo taken in 2012

And now, the moment you have been waiting for, for two weeks: the answers to the questions about the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Going from north to south the Files is providing readers with a guessing quiz on each of the German states as part of the series on Germany at 25. For the northernmost state in Germany, the area is rich in culture and history, which after looking at the answers to the guessing quiz, you will be motivated enough to spend a few weeks up there.

The answer key is only a complement to the guessing quiz which you can access here and print out for you to try on your own, as well as test your family and friends, especially those originally from the region who might need a refersher. However, you are also free to comment on the answers to the guessing quiz, either in the comment section or directly via e-mail, using the contact info available under About the Flensburg Files header page.

So without further ado, here are the answers to the quiz on Schleswig-Holstein:

ANSWERS FROM THE MÄÄHTRIX EXERCISE:

  1. What’s the capital of the state of Schleswig-Holstein

 Answer: Kiel

 

  1. Which of these communities is NOT a community but an island?

Answer: Sylt

Interesting Fact: The Island of Fehmarn is also considered an island featuring several small villages plus the towns of Burg, Burgstaaken and Puttgarden. Yet since 2003, all the communities consolidated to form an Island-Community or City Island. Sylt still remains an island with many small communities run locally by their own governments.

 

  1. List the communities in order from largest to smallest in terms of population.

Kiel (242,000)

Lübeck (210,000)

Flensburg (89,300)

Neumünster (77,000)

Itzehoe (32,700)

Bad Oldesloe (24,100)

Husum (22,200)

Sylt (21,000)

Heide (20,800)

Quickborn (20,200)

Eutin (17,300)

Bad Seegeberg (15,900)

Fehmarn (13,000)

Plön (12,800)

Friedrichstadt (2,400)

 

  1. Which community has the highest concentration of Danish people in Germany?

Answer: Flensburg. Of the ca. 90,000 inhabitants that live in this city, 30% are of Danish descent. No wonder that the city has several Danish schools and stores, mostly in the north and west of Nordermarkt.

 

  1. Which community was established by the Dutch?

Answer: Friedrichstadt. The town was founded by Dutch Protestants in 1643 and is characterized by its houses, canals and even bridges, including its signature double-bascule draw bridge. More on the city’s bridges can be found here through the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.

 

 

  1. Which community is famous for its chalk hills and is the site of Karl May’s Cowboys and Indians Show (a.k.a. Winnetou)?

 Answer: Bad Seegeberg.  Every summer in July, Winnetou and his Native American friends make a stop here to challenge the likes of Buffalo Bill and Kit Carson, just to name a few.

 

  1. You’ll never be a full-fledged international tourist unless you visit this community with its historic city center (a UNESCO site, BTW) and try the world famous marzipan candy. Name this town in Schleswig-Holstein.

 

Answer: Lübeck. More on why you should visit this city to come in the Files. But if you don’t visit this city, you’re touristic criminal. 😉

 

  1. “Moinson!” German actor Axel Prahl, who plays Thiel in the ARD mystery series “Tatort” (Crime Scene in EN) is originally a Schleswig-Holsteiner, originating from which community? (Note: It has a fine castle).

 

 Answer: Eutin, located between Kiel and Lübeck. If you’re not convinced he uses this greeting profusely or if you want to know what he looks like, enjoy this Tatort film below:

Correction: The greeting is spelled “Moins En,” according to local sources.

 

  1. Which two communities have a premere league handball team and what are their official team names? (Hint: The Files has profiled them in many occasions since its inception in 2010)

 

Answer: Flensburg and Kiel.  The official name for Flensburg’s team is the SG Flensburg-Handewitt, featuring the acing albatrosses from two Flensburg handball teams and one from neighboring Handewitt that merged to be one team in 1990. The zebras of THW Kiel have been in the handball business for over 100 years (since  1904) and have been kings of the German and international leagues for over 50 years.

 

  1. Which community is famous for its “Kornschnapps” (EN: grain schnaps)?

Answer: Bad Oldesloe, located between Hamburg and Lübeck.

 

 ANSWERS TO HYBRID QUESTIONS:

 

  1. Which river in Schleswig-Holstein is the longest?

 a. Trave     b. Treene        c. Träne          d. Tine       e. Schwentine      f. Eider

Answer: The Trave. At 124 km in length, the river flows through the eastern part of the state before emptying in the Baltic Sea at Travemünde near Lübeck.     

Note: The Eider River would have been the right answer had it not been for the construction of the Baltic-North Sea Canal. Originally, the river sliced through the state from Tönning to Kiel, thus creating first the border between the Danish and Prussian Kingdoms then later the kingdoms of Schleswig and Holstein. It was 188 km long, however today’s river starts at Rendsburg and continues its route to Tönning, with the total length being cut down to 100 km.

 

  1. How many castles does Schleswig-Holstein have, and can you name two of them? (Hint: Eutin has one so it does not count)

 

Answer: seven. They include ones at Eutin, Ploehn (Plön), Salzau, Gottdorf (near Schleswig), Husum, Ahrendsburg and Glücksburg.

 

  1. The last of the coal-fired steamboat exists in Germany and is still in operation in Flensburg. What’s the name of the ship?

 a. Alexandra     b. Bertha        c. Clara           d. Dora           e. Euphremia    f. Flora

  g. Greta          h. Helena        i. Illonka         j. Johanna

Answer: a. Alexandra. This ship was built in 1908 and still provides tours in the region between Flensburg, Holnis and Kappeln. Rumor has it though that this ship is expected to retire soon.

 

  1. The Kiel Canal (a.k.a. Grand Canal) is a waterway built in 1895 connecting which two cities and their two seas? Schleswig-Holstein is bordered by these two seas.

 

Answer: The Baltic Sea and the North Sea.  Hence the name Baltic-North Sea Canal or in German: Nordostseekanal (NOK)

 

  1. The Grand Canal replaced the canal that followed the Treene River. True or False?

Answer: False. The Grand Canal replaced the Alte Eider Canal, which ran parallel to today’s canal between Kiel and Rendsburg as a canal and as the river Eider from Rendsburg to the mouth of the North Sea at Tönning

 

 

  1. Name two of ten bridges over the Grand Canal. One of whom has received many accolades for its engineering wonder. (Hint: Sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles did a report on this theme)

 

Click here to get the answers. The Rendsburg Bridge is one of the bridges that received several accolades on the national and international level because of its unique bridge design. More on that here.

 

17. Uwe Barschel, a Social Democrat, resigned from his post as prime minister amid a scandal on October 2, 1987. Nine days later, his body was found at a luxury hotel in which city?

 a. Munich  b. Berlin          c. Amsterdam             d. Berne          e. Geneva     f. Vienna

g. Budapest    h. Paris      i. Prague         j. New York

Answer:    e. Geneva   Correction: Barschel was a Christian Democrat, not a Social Democrat, according to locals and the history books.

 

  1. The 1972 Summer Olympics took place in Kiel. True, False, or Naja?

Answer: Naja. While the majority of the events took place in Munich, the yachting portion of the events took place in Kiel.

 

 

  1. Which German cartoon character originated from Schleswig-Holstein?
    1. Die Wilde Kerle (The Wild Boys)
    2. Werner
    3. Wallace and Gromit

 

Answer: b. Werner the wild motorbiker. Interestingly enough, Rötger Hoffmann, the creator of this cartoon character, just recently celebrated his 65th birthday. He founded the series in 1982.

 

  1. Which annual festival in Schleswig-Holstein does NOT exist?
    1. Apple Festival in Glücksburg (near Flensburg)
    2. The International Yacht Festival in Kiel
    3. International Kite-flying Festival in Travemünde (near Lübeck)
    4. Crocus Flower Pagent in Husum
    5. Tulip Festival in Friedrichstadt

 

Answer: e. The Tulip Festival does NOT exist in Friedrichstadt, BUT there is a similar festival some 6,000km away in another Dutch city, Pella (Iowa) in the US.

 

  1. You’re not a true Schleswig-Holsteiner unless you try one of the two local specialties (a.) and a good (b.) beer.

Answer:

a. Sauerfleisch with broiled potatoes OR any delicacies with fish

b. Flensburger beer

 

  1. Fehmarn Island is the flattest island in Germany. True or False?

 Answer: False, but the island is the largest in Germany.

 

  1. The Fehmarn Bridge, built in 1963, was the first bridge in the world to use this design?

Answer: The basket handle tied arch bridge. Since then, many engineers have embraced this design, and another bridge in Schleswig-Holstein will be built at the Levansau crossing using this design.

 

  1. St. Peter-Ording is a popular health span resort namely because of of the discovery of which mineral in a geyser discovered in 1953?
    1. Salt Petroleum  c. Sulphur       d. Nitrate        e. Hydrogen

Answer:  c. sulphur

 

  1. How many universities and colleges exist in Schleswig-Holstein? Can you name two of them?

Answer:  12 

They are:        The University of Kiel

                       The University of Applied Sciences of Kiel

                       The Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts in Kiel

                       The Europe University of Flensburg

                       The Flensburg University of Applied Sciences

                       The Lübeck Academy of Music

                       The University of Lübeck

                       The Lübeck University of Applied Sciences

                       The University of Applied Sciences in Wedel

                       The Pinneberg AKAD

                       The Nordakademie of Elmshorn

                       The Westkuste University of Applied Sciences of Heide

And now after getting acquainted with the first of 16 states in Germany, we will now move on to the second state going south. This is one of three city-states and one that was on the news most recently: Hamburg. More in the next article….

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Hamburg in 2024!

German Olympic Committee Recommends Hamburg over Berlin as Host for 2024 Summer Olympic Games- Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Pommerania and Lower Saxony to Benefit from the Games

Hamburg Central Station to be a bit more crowded should it win the 2024 Olympic bid. Photo taken in 2011
Hamburg Central Station to be a bit more crowded should it win the 2024 Olympic bid. Photo taken in 2011

FRANKFURT (MAIN)- It came down to two of the five major German metropolises to host the 2024 Olympic Games- Berlin or Hamburg. Both of them in the northern half of the country. The German capital last hosted it in 1936, less than three years before World War II broke out. Being the third time it would have hosted the Games, it has the 1936 stadium, various sporting complexes and various lakes. Hamburg is an up and coming city. The second largest city has a dense and advanced infrastructure, is modernized and environmentally friendly and has direct access to the Baltic Sea through neighboring Schleswig-Holstein.

Therefore, it came as no surprise that the German Olympic Committee at a meeting in Frankfurt (Main) last night has recommended the candidate for the 2024 games goes to (drumroll, please…..)

Hamburg!

There are many reasons why the hanseatic city deserves the bid over the German capital. Hamburg has become a tourist appeal in the last 10+ years thanks to the efforts of modernizing the city to meet the demands of the population, while at the same time, bring the city and its history and culture to the forefront. Much of which you will find in the video clips below, and the Files will feature the city as the next candidate for Germany’s 25th anniversary quiz to be presented on the 24th of March. It was the host of the 2013 German Floral Show (Bundesgartenschau) with one of the largest suburbs, Wilhelmsburg being the pet for the International Building Exhibition, which ended in 2013. Once relying on coal and nuclear power, the city has embraced various forms of renewable energy, through wind, hydro and geothermal. The city prides itself on its sports teams in soccer, handball and basketball, to name a few. Plus with its sound infrastructure, one can reach the Baltic Sea in no less than 45 minutes and the North Sea in less than an hour.

The plan of the city to host the 2024 Games is easy: make it small and simple. A Olympic complex on the island of Kleinen Grasbrook that is to be a sports complex afterwards. Grasbrook was once an industrial complex. Basketball, soccer and handball would be played in the northern cities of Bremen, Cuxhaven, Travemünde, Rostock, Kiel and Flensburg, just to name a few. Boating and yachting either in Travemünde or Kiel. For Kiel, it would be blessing as it had last hosted this event in 1972. For the northern German states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Pommerania and Lower Saxony, helping to shoulder the burden of the events (and the costs) Hamburg will have to face will make the northern region a very attractive place during the Summer Games. Speaking from the point of view of the expat looking in, the northern half of the country prides itself on it sporting events that do not require hills and mountains, but on courts and nets or in the water. So having Hamburg as the candidate for the Games is no surprise for it has what the athletes need and then some. When spending time in the region, one will want to come back again and again, because of the people, the culture, the landscape, the landscape, and lastly, the mentality where simplicity and friendliness trumps all the complications an even bigger city has, let alone all the extravaganzas that many hosts have overdone in the previous Olympics, like in Athens or Peking.

However, despite the recommendations, all is not set in stone for Hamburg. An extraordinary meeting takes place on March 21st, where the German Olympic Committee board members are expected to confirm Hamburg’s nomination. Hamburg will be competing with Boston for the rights to host the Games, with the decision to be made in Lima, Peru in 2017. Should the International Olympics Committee vote in favor of the German City-State, it will be Hamburg’s very first time, and one where many athletes, politicians and the majority of the population in the city and the affected northern states believe that the city deserves, given its pride in sports and its recent developments in their favor.

And if Hamburg wins and does a great job in hosting the games, it would not be surprising if it becomes the main go-to city for future Games, surpassing Berlin or even Munich (at least as far as the Summer Games are concerned), not just because of its attractiveness and its simplicity in planning its events, but because of its access to areas where people pride themselves in their own sporting events. And with that, the Files is throwing its support to Hamburg in hopes that the decision in 2017 falls in their favor. Best of luck and let’s bring the torch to Hollen Nord, shall we? 😀

Some reasons why one should visit Hamburg can be found here:

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Reminder: You still have one week to finish Germany’s first quiz on the northernmost German state of Schleswig-Holstein. To get access to the quiz, click here. The answers will come on March 24th, the same day as the quiz on Hamburg will be presented. 

Germany Quiz 1: What to know about Schleswig-Holstein

The clipper ship Passat at its port and museum in Travemünde (near Lübeck). Photo taken in 2013
The clipper ship Passat at its port and museum in Travemünde (near Lübeck). Photo taken in 2013

Starting off the series on Germany at 25 and a look at each of the German states, we will now have our first look at the northernmost state of the country, Schleswig-Holstein. Bordered by two seas, as well as Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Pommerania, Hamburg and neighboring country Denmark, the German state consisted of two kingdoms that merged in 1544: The Duchy of Schleswig in the northern half and the Duchy of Holstein in the southern and eastern part. And although the border extended north into southern Jutland because of the Prussian victory over the Danes in 1864 (consisting of the Danish towns of Kolding, Sondernburg and Esjeberg), the present border, extending west from Flensburg towards Sylt has been in place since 1919 (not counting Adolf Hitler’s conquest during the Third Reich). The country is one of the most cosmopolitan in Germany as up to 40% of the population consist of the Danish minority, as well as people with a Frisian background and immigrants from other countries. Even some pockets of American expatriates can be found in some communities in the state. Each district and community has its own identity, culture and history worth exploring and speaking from the author’s experience, once you visit Schleswig-Holstein once, you want to visit it again, regardless of whether you want to visit the same part of the state again or different areas, hence picking up some statements and the famous greeting: “Moin Moin!” 🙂

This article features a guessing quiz on what you want to know about Schleswig-Holstein- 25 questions in all, ten of which are in connection with the matrix activity involving the state’s famous communities. If you want to test your knowledge, take the quiz with your friends and family and share the information with others. You will find the answers to the questions by clicking here. If you have any questions, contact the Files using the contact details in the webpage or by sending a facebook message.  Viel Spass und viel Glück! 🙂

25 QUESTIONS ABOUT SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN:

Mähtrix Schleswig Holstein graph

Use the following communities in the matrix to answer the first 10 questions:

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  1. What’s the capital of the state of Schleswig-Holstein

 

  1. Which of these communities is NOT a community but an island?

 

  1. List the communities in order from largest to smallest in terms of population.

 

 

  1. Which community has the highest concentration of Danish people in Germany?

 

  1. Which community was established by the Dutch?

 

  1. Which community is famous for its chalk hills and is the site of Karl Mey’s Cowboys and Indians Show (a.k.a. Winnetou)?

 

  1. You’ll never be a full-fledged international tourist unless you visit this community with its historic city center (a UNESCO site, BTW) and try the world famous marzipan candy. Name this town in Schleswig-Holstein.

 

  1. “Moinson!” German actor Axel Prahl, who plays Thiel in the ARD mystery series “Tatort” (Crime Scene in EN) is originally a Schleswig-Holsteiner, originating from which community? (Note: It has a fine castle).

 

  1. Which two communities have a premere league handball team and what are their official team names? (Hint: The Files has profiled them in many occasions since its inception in 2010)

 

  1. Which community is famous for its “Kornschnapps” (EN: grain schnapps)?

.

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HYBRID QUESTIONS:

 Which river in Schleswig-Holstein is the longest?

   a. Trave      b. Treene        c. Träne          d. Tine      

 e. Schwentine      f. Eider

 

  1. How many castles does Schleswig-Holstein have, and can you name two of them? (Hint: Eutin has one so it does not count)

 

  1. The last of the coal-fired steamboat exists in Germany and is still in operation in Flensburg. What’s the name of the ship?

 

 a. Alexandra           b. Bertha        c. Clara          

  d. Dora           e. Euphremia             f. Flora                

   g. Greta          h. Helena        i. Illonka         j. Johanna

 

  1. The Kiel Canal (a.k.a. Grand Canal) is a waterway built in 1895 connecting which two cities and their two seas? Schleswig-Holstein is bordered by these two seas.

 

  1. The Grand Canal replaced the canal that followed the Treene River. True or False?

  

  1. Name two of ten bridges over the Grand Canal. One of whom has received many accolades for its engineering wonder. (Hint: Sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles did a report on this theme)

 

  1. Uwe Barschel, a Social Democrat, resigned from his post as prime minister amid a scandal on October 2, 1987. Nine days later, his body was found at a luxury hotel in which city?

   a. Munich        b. Berlin          c. Amsterdam            

    d. Berne          e. Geneva          f. Vienna        

    g. Budapest    h. Paris               i. Prague         j. New York

 

  1. The 1972 Summer Olympics took place in Kiel. True, False, or Naja?

 

  1. Which German cartoon character originated from Schleswig-Holstein?
    1. Die Wilde Kerle (The Wild Boys)
    2. Werner
    3. Wallace and Gromit

  

  1. Which annual festival in Schleswig-Holstein does NOT exist?
    1. Apple Festival in Glücksburg (near Flensburg)
    2. The International Yacht Festival in Kiel
    3. International Kite-flying Festival in Travemünde (near Lübeck)
    4. Crocus Flower Pagent in Husum
    5. Tulip Festival in Friedrichstadt

 

  1. You’re not a true Schleswig-Holsteiner unless you try one of the two local specialties (a.) and a good (b.) beer.

 

a.

b.

 

  1. Fehmarn Island is the flattest island in Germany. True or False?

 

  1. The Fehmarn Bridge, built in 1963, was the first bridge in the world to use this design?

           Hint: The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles has this bridge as its logo:

bhc new logo jpeg

 

  1. Peter-Ording is a popular health span resort namely because of of the discovery of which mineral in a geyser discovered in 1953?   a.Salt       b. Petroleum     c. Sulphur       d. Nitrate        e. Hydrogen

 

  1. How many universities and colleges exist in Schleswig-Holstein? Can you name two of them?

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Newsflyer: 11 June, 2014

Unknown photographer. Used in connection with article found here: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/lwx/lightning/va-lightning.htm Public Domain

Giant Storm Causes Widespread Damage throughout Germany.  World Cup in Brazil in Full Gear.  Hamburg SV Handball Team Finished?

Getting off the train this morning at Erfurt Central Station in central Thuringia, passengers received a shock of their lives, as the sounds of thunder and lightning made the state capital sound like warfare going on. Pick any war in the last 20 years and it was reenacted by mother nature. And this in addition to heavy rains that flooded streets and brought the vehicular infrastructure to a complete standstill for a time.  But this was the overture to the series of storms that occurred over the course of two days, ending today, which is comparable to Hurricane Kyrill in February 2007, and caused severe damage throughout all of Germany. More on that and a pair of sports-related items in the Files’ Newsflyer.

Video of the Storm

Kyrillian-sized storm cripples Germany:

Local Flooding in Cologne, Rostock and Berlin. Downed trees in the Ruhr River area, northern Hesse and Saxony-Anhalt. Train services suspended. Power outages everywhere. This was a familiar sign when Kyrill brought all of Germany to a complete standstill in 2007. Yet with the storm system sweeping through Germany yesterday and today, it brought back memories of the event. Sweltering heat gave way to golfball-sized hail, high winds and torrential downpour that caused critical damage to many cities throughout Germany. Fallen trees and flooding caused several raillines to suspend services, including the hardest hit area, the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the German railways suspended all services statewide yesterday for the fourth time since 2007. Officials there are predicting services to return to normal by the weekend. Stations in Essen, Dusseldorf and Cologne were cut off from the rest of the rail network. Raillines between Berlin, Hamburg and places to the north and west were either closed down or rerouted. Over 100,000 travelers were stranded or had to find alternatives, which didn’t fare better with motorways being blocked due to downed trees and other objects.  Damage is estimated to be more than $135 million. News sources are predicting a clean-up effort taking up to more than a week to complete; this includes restoring the infrastructure affected by the storm. More information and photos can be found here.

Hamburger SV Handball Team to Fold?

Once deemed as the one of the powerhouses of German handball, especially after winning the Champions League Title last year, the handball team from Hamburg’s days as a Premere League team may be numbered. Faced with a 2.7 million Euro deficit (ca. $4.4 million), no president since the resignation of Andreas Rudolph in May and with that, the team’s main sponsor withdrawing its financial support, the team was denied entrance to the first and second leagues. Its last attempt to save face and be allowed to play next season in the Premere League is to overturn the decision by the German Handball League through the arbitration panel. The decision should take place on Wednesday. Should the panel uphold the decision or Hamburg withdraw its appeal, the team will be forced to play in the Regional League (3rd League) in the next season. In addition, the team will not be allowed to participate in the European Cup in the next season, despite finishing fourth in the standings. Melsungen would replace the spot left vacant. And lastly, the team will most likely file for bankruptcy, which could lead to the club being liquidated, should no one step in with money to help them. Such a free fall would be catastrophic, as Hamburg has competed well against the likes of the 2014 Season and German Cup champions, THW Kiel, as well as Berlin, Rhine-Neckar Lions, and the 2014 Champions League winners, SG Flensburg-Handewitt. More information can be found here.

World Cup begins tomorrow

Germany and the US are two of 32 teams that will go head-to head with the competitors beginning tomorrow. The 2014 FIFA World Cup will take place in Brazil at 12 several locations, with the Championship to take place on July 13th in Rio de Janeiro. For the first time since 1930, all the teams winning a World Cup will participate in the competition (Argentina, England, France, Italy, Spain, Uruguay, and Germany).  Spain is the returning champion, having edged the Netherlands in the 2010 Cup. This is the fifth time the Cup is taking place in South America, which has been won by teams from that continent the last four times. That means Brazil is the heavy favorites to take the Cup. More interesting is the pool play, in particular, Group G, where the US and Germany are in. They are scheduled to meet on 26 June in Recife. The stakes are high for the head coaches of both teams, who are both looking for their first World Cup title. Jurgen Klinnsmann is being criticized for the American team being Europeanized, which could be his downfall if his team does not make it. Joachim Loewe is hoping that winning the title will improve his chances of a contract extension before 2016. With both teams hobbling with players banged up from regular season competition, it will be interesting to see how the match will turn out, let alone, who will go far in the Cup. More on the Cup to come in the Files. If you want to know more about the tournament, click here for details.