End of the Line 1: Lance’s Confession: The Question of Significance in Role Models

END OF THE LINE: This is the first of many to come as the Flensburg Files opens a new category called End of the Line. All Change Please, which focuses on the downfall of celebrities and the end of certain trends and traditions for various reasons. Lance Armstrong’s career came to an end because of a doping scandal which stripped him of seven Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2006 and several other honors.  After refuting a 1000-page report accusing him of doping for over a year, Armstrong came clean with Oprah Winfrey in an interview this past Thursday. Here is the author’s comments which will bring him and his legacy to the end of the line.

I do not remember or know anyone who grew up not idolizing their favorite heros. We each had a hero to look up to, and for some, we still have them, even though their lifestyle and actions sometimes do not coincide with ours, let alone how we were raised by our parents. I have no idea how many people followed Lance Armstrong when he won seven straight Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2006, combined with other honors he gained. After his confession to Oprah Winfrey last night in an interview that his titles were not his own merit, it is unknown whether he has as many followers as he had in the past. There are many people still asking him why he did what he did- doping with seven different substances, all of which were banned by different cycling and sports organizations, in order to cheat his way to these titles. There are many who question his role model, why he set a bad example for the younger generations to follow. If I met him on the street, my question to him would be “Are you aware that your actions will taint the image of sports forever?”

There are two ways of looking at Armstrong’s confession. One is that of not being surprised. Thousands of athletes have pumped themselves up with performance enhancing drugs (considered illegal) and have gotten away with it, whether it was Lyle Alzado and John Matuszak using steroids to itimidate the offensive linemen in American football or Superstar Billy Graham and Kerry Von Erich admitting to drug use while in professional wrestling. Each one has had to admit their usage, but at the expense of their fame- and their health. Alzado died in 1992 of brain cancer, which he claimed was in connection with his steroid use. Matuszak died of a drug overdose in 1989. Von Erich committed suicide in 1992 after years of agony. Graham appears to be following suit after many health issues as a result of drug use.  Each of these athletes had been banned from professional sports at one time or another, even if it was for a short time. And many still remember these people for their performance and as an icon, even though they fell from grace and out of favor with the public for their wrong doing and even if it came at the expense of their health.  Lance Armstrong came a long way, from hanging on a thread because of testicular cancer that spread to his brain and lungs, to beating the disease setting up his foundation, to cycling his way to France for the titles. His fall from grace may not include the affects his drugs on his health but it presents a familiar ring that has been seen many times among athletes to a point where the public is becoming more indifferent to any sport that requires physical exertion and/or contact. If one sees Usain Bolt breaking world records in sprinting all the time, the defensive linemen of the Baltimore Ravens in American football, Sara Del Ray and Daizee Haze grappling each other in professional wrestling, or basketball players showing off their slam dunks, it would not be surprising if someone points out their potential for pumping themselves up. And even if they did admit to it, no one would care about it.

Or would they?

This is where the other point should be addressed. Armstrong’s confession might create a potential for a wave of storms to cause massive destruction in many professional sports, even if drug testing has been in force for years. For the past 10 years, professional cycling has been connected with drug use, for many athletes have been caught using them, stripping them of their titles and banning them for life. Now it appears that Armstrong will sink that sport for good, destroying a 150 year tradition and causing a stir among the French who enjoy being part of the Tour de France. Could other sports follow?  If so, then which other sports should be black listed because of problems with performance-enhanced drugs?  We know that the drug ring that Armstrong established was the most sophisticated, but who knows if it exists in other sports.  It could be that the standards have increased to a point where it is impossible to reach them without the use of drugs. This was the point Armstrong was right on in his interview- seven Tour de France titles without the use of seven different drugs was next to impossible.  If sports have become too aggressive or have standards that are too high, then it is time to reduce them to encourage other people to compete in a fair and kosher way. Otherwise we will have more people like Armstrong who will do anything possible to climb to the top. Sometimes going to the top takes more effort and time than it is when sprinting up there in the shortest time possible. If the latter is the case, one really has to ask himself how it was done and if it was their own merit.

Armstrong’s confession will definitely be the same as the confession of a killer in Crime and Punishment. Armstrong may have vindicated himself for admitting his wrong doing, but he will surely have a lot to do to clear his name. He may even have to spend time in prison for his actions, in addition to giving up the money that he received through many endorsements. But he will cleanse himself and the sport of cycling of all the lies that the public had to follow for all these year. Armstrong will serve as an icon but in a different way. He will be the symbol of the sports culture that has become as obsessive as the use of drugs in the US and elsewhere, the obsession that needs to be eradicated and the culture that needs to be reformed before more people become victim of lies and deceit. And while his career has come to the end of the line, it serves as a signal for all other athletes to fess up and come clean with their record, showing others that success is not through cheating, but through hard work. Sometimes just beating a dreadful disease like (testicular) cancer will do the trick…..


Photo taken in December 2012

The Answer to the Flensburg Files’ Frage for the Forum:

To wrap up the 2012 Tour of the Christmas Markets in Germany, and in particular Saxony-Anhalt, let’s go back to the question I had left for the people to consider while touring the Adventsmarkt in Quedlinburg, located in the western part of the state.  Take a look at this picture again, and at the tower. Do you have an idea what that is and what it was used for?

Before going to the answer, some information on its location. As mentioned in the article, the courtyard (hof) at the entrance to Word Garden, where the largest of the 24 market booths were located has a unique history in itself. The Adelshof at Wordgasse 4 features four wings with the entrance at Wordgasse, which connects the northwestern edge of the historic city center and the entrance to Word Garden (after crossing the creek). The south wing is at the old wall surrounding the city center and features a tower. On the west wing is the main residential building, where most of the inhabitants used to live. The barn is located in the north wing and the Word creek passes the East wing. Inside the courtyard one will find this particular piece of artwork, which we’ll get to in a tiny bit. The whole complex is surrounded by a wall, one side of which is part of the main wall that surrounds the city center (or old town), with Fachwerk houses sticking out on the south and east side, ensuring that the tourists will not miss this place.

Adelshof was first mentioned in 1224, as it was the built at that time. It used to be occupied by the Lords of Regenstein in the late 1200s; at that time, it was expanded to include two more building complexes. Yet three different families with royal blood occupied the complex over the next three centuries, beginning with the family of Hans von Wulffen in 1566. Hans received the property as a gift for his victory over the enemies at Sievershausen in 1553. He married Magdalena Pllotho and moved into the complex, where he rebuilt the main residence and constructed the South Wing. Upon his death in 1585, Magdalena took over the property and eventually passed it down to her daughter Elisabeth von Wulffen. During that time, the West Wing was constructed. When the von Hoym family took over in 1620, the East Wing was built. The family occupied the complex for 55 years. After many changes in ownership over the next century, the Koch family took over beginning with Jeremias Timotheus (1760-1815), Johann Andreas (1815-1820) and H. Andreas (1820-1852); during that time, the complex became part of the church.  The complex was taken over after being left idle for 20 years in 2008 and the restoration of the complex started right away. Apart from hosting many public events in the courtyard, a museum, restaurant and Medieval gardens are in the planning in addition to reconstructing many parts of the building. Already the Adelshof has been hosting the Adventsmarkt in December for a few years as one of the 24 booths that should be visited while in Quedlinburg.

And as for the tower in the center of the courtyard (as seen in the photo)? Interestingly enough, that is a dovecote. A dovecote is French for birdhouse, only it houses doves and pigeons. This dovecote was constructed in the 1800s featuring a hexagonal-sided birdhouse made of timber, a Victorian-shaped finial on top, and supported by a column-shaped pedastel made of sandstone. This dovecote was one of the first relicts to have been restored to its original form, in addition to the south and east wings upon visiting the Adelshof this past holiday season, and is one of the main features for this courtyard, in addition to the rest of the complex, parts of which are either being restored even as this article is posted or will be on the list of things to restore in the future.

As mentioned in the article, Quedlinburg is a town full of surprises that will satisfy anyone passing through. Its Christmas market is one of the most local and well-known in Germany. Its Medieval architecture, mostly in tact thanks to the town being spared the bombing in World War II, is one of the oldest in Europe and one that should not be forgotten. And despite the decline in population due to demographic changes and lack of economic opportunity, Quedlinburg, like Halle, Magdeburg and other smaller cities, is one of many reasons why Saxony-Anhalt survives in its original form today and is a magnet for tourism, commerce and business alike. If one visits Saxony-Anhalt sometime, please consider this town as a place to visit, even if it is for a day.

The owners of the Adelshof complex need your help so that the restoration of this Medieval complex is completed and open to the public year round. To find out more about how you can donate money and time to realizing the project, click onto this link. The contact details can be found here.

More about Quedlinburg’s Adventsmarkt can be found here.


Christmas Market Tour 2012: Halle (Saale)

Overview of the Christmas Market at Halle’s city center

There are many cities and towns that are guilded and overrated- full of glanz and glamour on the outside but full of corruption and disappointment on the inside. But there are cities and towns that are diamonds in the rough- ugly on the outside but on the inside, beauty in terms of history, culture, architecture, environmental surroundings and the friendliness of the people prevail. Halle in Saxony-Anhalt, located 35 kilometers west of Leipzig, is one that falls clearly into the latter category. When getting off the train at Halle (Saale) Central Station, the first impressions of the city are bleak- old and bland high-rise buildings built in the Communist era with a freeway running parallel to the railway track, empty and derelict antique buildings, and fewer people on the streets. Yet as you walk towards the city center, 10 minutes later, the city presents an image opposite of the one next to the train station.

There are many features that make the largest city in Saxony-Anhalt unique. First and foremost, it is the the birthplace of famous musician of the Baroque period, George Friedrich Handel, who also grew up in Halle, graduating with a degree in music at the University of Halle (now the largest university of the state), before eventually settling down in England. His birthplace has been converted into a museum, where you can see all the relicts from his time. Halle is famous for its salt, which is harvested from the Saale River. The salt works is still in operation today and produces the finest bathing salt in the region, one of many products that uses this important mineral. Halle counters Flensburg with regards to its brewery, although the city’s beer cannot compete with the Flens in terms of the various brands- at least not yet. It also counters Magdeburg in terms of its architecture for the city has architecture dating back to the Medeival period, including the Giebichstein Castle (overlooking the Saale in the northern edge of the city), the Red Tower and Cathedral (standing next to each other in the city center) and the Opera House, among others. Even its parks and bridges belong to the places that should be visited while in Halle. (The Bridges of Halle (Saale) will be featured in the sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles in the near future).  It is also the center for trade and commerce as the city lies at the crossroads between agriculture in the north, industry in the south, forestry in the southwest and industry to the east in the vicinity of Leipzig. The city also shares an international airport with Leipzig. The soccer team Halle FC has been moving up the rankings, going from the state league in 2002 to national league at present, competing in the third tier of the Bundesliga, with a potential to counter another rising star, 1899 Hoffenheim, which is playing in the top flight section of the Bundesliga.

But in terms of the Christmas market, Halle (Saale) ranks in the top tier, with the likes of Dresden, Nuremberg, Frankfurt(Main) and others in terms of its popularity. Popularity in this case not because of the masses of people who visit the Christmas market but in terms of its appearance and what it offers for people, when passing through. Using the reindeer as its mascot (which can be found on any merchandise, Christmas cups included), Halle’s Christmas market mixes Arctic culture with fairy tales, making it a grand place for people of all ages.

The Reindeer as the mascot for Halle’s Christmas market, as seen here.

Much of the city’s Christmas market is situated in the city center at Marktplatz, dividing it up into two segments, using the street car tracks as the dividing point. Much of the eateries and places of amusement are found east of the street car tracks, where one can try the Heisse Heidi (Blueberry mulled wine) or cherry Gluewein with real cherries or allow the kids to ride the train around the Christmas tree. A lot of handcrafted goods can also be found on the eastern end of the market, where one will see Rauchermaenner (incense men)  made of wood from the Ore Mountain region, including those resembling the reindeer blowing incense out through the nostrils, or people making animals out of special forms of clay.

On the western side of the track, one will see the more cultural side of the market, where many products originating from the northern ends of Earth can be found. While one can indulge in Russian goodies and Swedish Gloegg (an alcoholic beverage featuring berries, spices and vodka), the Finnish represent a third of the western side of the market, as booths selling specialities from the region are easy to find. One can try chili and creme, cloudberry and other liquours at one stand, eat reindeer meat with potatoes at another stand resembling a large tipi tent, and try pulla and cloudberry pastry at another stand. Yet one of the key attractions at the Christmas market in 2012 was paying homage to a pair of reindeer, Rudi (short for Rudolph) and Filli, who made their visits every afternoon for a couple hours, unless you were one of those who ate the meat of one of their relatives and are looking for a way to justify your reason.  Yet Rudi and Filli were not always around, as the people responsible for them, namely the Halle Zoo, had other reindeer that paid the people a visit.

Arctic specialties are not the only ones that can be found on the western side of the market. In front of the Cathedral, one can find both the Manger booth and the Fairy Tale Tower on the south end and the Library stand on the north end. While the Manger booth features a display of the Birth of Jesus Christ (all handcrafted and lit to make it look real), it is also the site of Father Christmas’ visit with the kids. Fairy Tower features scenes from as many as 10 children’s fairy tales, such as Little Red Ridinghood, Rumpelstiltzchen, and Puss in Boots. The Library booth is where you can donate any books you do not want anymore, while at the same time take one that you want to read. And while the booth was rather plain and features a temporary building, the collection of books donated are huge, a sign that the interest in print media is more important than ever.

Halle was not a nice city during the Communist era because of the decay of the historic buildings and the rise of Communist high-rise buildings. Up until five years ago, Halle was associated with an industry that was run down, a town that is dying off because of younger people flocking to the western part of Germany for better opportunities. Yet the town has made vast improvements over the past five years, making the city a magnet for people wanting a better life instead of the hectic life of Urbania as one would see in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, just to name a few. And more is yet to come, as it will benefit from an improved infrastructure, thanks to its access to the ICE-rail lines, the Autobahnen and the Leipzig-Halle Airport. In terms of its fine arts and architecture, Halle ranks among the best in Germany, as many people are taking advantage of the opportunities to study and work in these two fields.

The Christmas market is a must-see when either staying in Halle or passing through. While it may be smaller than Dresden, it presents a colorful scene where people can see anything handmade and/or multicultural. For the photographer, the Christmas market is a lover’s paradise because of the surroundings; with Handel staring at the Red Tower and the Cathedral with pride, it makes a person wonder how he would judge the Christmas market in his hometown if he was alive today. It is clear, as you will see in the photos below, that Halle is like a book, it should not be judged based on its cover, but based on the pages you read from start to finish. Halle’s Christmas market is one full of surprises and will make your stay a wonderful experience.


The Christmas Pyramid and the bar selling Heisse Heidi. All photos taken in December 2012
Scene of Little Red Riding Hood at Fairy Tale Tower
Fairy Tale Tower
The Finnish Stand. Here one will find beverages, sweets and other items associated with Finland
Selection of Gloegg at the Swedish stand
Overview with the Cathedral (left) and the Red Tower (right) in the background
The Christmas tree with the train going around it. An excellent ride for the kiddies
One of the architectural wonders that can be found in Halle: This building was erected in the 1880s and was recently restored.
The manger set on the eastern side of the Christmas market, also made of wood like at the Manger Booth on the western end.
Andi, one of the reindeer on display at the Finnish section on the western end of the Christmas market

Here are links to other images of the Halle Christmas Market that you should see:

Overview 1

Overview 2

Overview  3

Reindeer 1

Reindeer 2

Christmas Market Tour 2012: Quedlinburg

Quedlinburg Castle at Sundown. This and all photos taken in December 2012

The next stop on the 2012 Christmas market tour is Quedlinburg. Situated on the Bode River at the foot of the Harz Mountain region in western Saxony-Anhalt, Quedlinburg at first may be a typical town that had survived 40 years of East German Communist rule and seemed to be neglected even after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Germany was reunified a year later. One can see signs of neglect and deterioration when passing through many towns in the region, unless they underwent massive modernization altering its identity. It is noticeable when stepping onto the platform at the train station and averting the train station building, as parts of it have deteriorated to a point where they have been closed off to the public. Yet if many home-making and children’s magazines have recommended visiting Quedlinburg because of its Christmas markets, then the town must have a gem somewhere for people to see, right?

Quedlinburg Train Station: in need of renovations

Crossing the Bahnhofsbruecke over the Bode and walking 10 minutes into the historic city center, one can see why it is a must to visit the Christmas market. Every year, the town of 25,000 inhabitants hosts the Christmas market, but based on an unusual style one will rarely see in Germany. Every weekend in the Advent season, the Adventsmarkt in den Hoefen (advent market in the courtyard) takes place, with local residents displaying and selling handcrafted goods to people looking for a perfect Christmas gift and local delicacies to those hosting a family feast on Christmas Eve. This year’s event took place in the courtyards of 24 houses and market squares throughout the historic city center.  For those wondering why this is the case, there is a reason and it has a historic twist to it.

Quedlinburg, as a town, has existed since the 9th Century, and much of the architecture that was first built by Henry the Fowler, his wife Saint Mathilda and his successor Otto the Great, and later expanded throughout the Medieval Period still exists to this day, as the town survived almost entirely unscathed in World War II.  Among the architecture that has survived the test of time are the Fachwerk-houses, the houses whose interior is supported by a truss skeleton that can be seen from the outside. A truss is a series of triangular sides which if fastened together form or support certain architecture, like a bridge or skyscraper. Some sources claimed that the first truss was invented in Italy in the 1600s, yet that has been bluffed for such architecture, found in houses like the ones in Quedlinburg, date as far back as the 1300s.  Almost all of the architecture in Quedlinburg consist of the Fachwerk style truss design, the houses are usually formed together, making it big enough to fit three families plus belongings on average. They have been restored to their original form and every year at Advent time, families and owners of these houses open their doors to the tourists and showcase their home and the work they do, whether it is making Christmas trees from a tree branch (as seen in the pictures below) or selling local goat and deer meet and sausages with some seasonings in there to make it tasty. Some have fancy displays for people to see. In the case of one courtyard, a loyal fan of the German Railways even had a Bord Restaurant and café for people wanting to have the sense of eating on the train. The Bord Restaurant can be found on all ICE-trains. If one wants to try anything that is typical of the region, the town is the place to do it, for Quedlinburg is at the crossroads between agriculture, mountains and anything Medieval and everything sold at the Advent market is typical of the town and the region.

Quedlinburg represents a fine example of a rural community that prides itself on local goods and never embraces in the more commercialized goods, especially at the bigger Christmas markets in the big cities, like Dresden, Nuremberg and Frankfurt. There is a certain belief that if one wants to sell something, it must be self-made and have the highest quality, even if they are made in low quantities. It is not a necessity to mass produce in order to make the quickest dollar possible, for even though such methods are possible, the people will be turned off by products that are made in haste and doctored in a way that it looks good on the outside, but never satisfies the person on the inside because of the lack of appearance and taste.  It is better to strive for high quality and not worry about profits, for in the end people will talk about the experience they had and spread the word instead of just saying “Been there, nothing too spectacular.” When visiting the courtyards and stands at the Adventsmarkt in Quedlinburg, one will definitely experience the feeling of home, when seeing the products being made and sold by the locals. In many cases, Quedlinburg serves as a place where creativity is born or reborn, giving visitors an incentive to starting their own local business, creating and selling local products for others to enjoy. If one wants to be creative, then it is highly recommended to spend a day at the Adventsmarkt in Quedlinburg, talk to people and take something with to use as a starting point.

Quedlinburg is a must-see place for those traveling through Germany and not knowing where to visit (apart from the big cities). Especially in the winter time, where most of the activities take place. Apart from the Advent market, there are winter festivals taking place in February. In the summer time, one can stay at one of the Fachwerk-houses and witness farm life, which includes horseback riding, hiking, biking, etc. In terms of its architecture and history, one can see the historic old town and the castle, all of which have been nominated as part of UNESCO’s World Heritage since 1994. But at Christmas time, if one wishes for something special, Quedlinburg is the place to be, for each of the courtyards have a different theme, each to one’s liking, and when visiting the Advent market, one will come away with something special to share with others. There is something special about Quedlinburg and Christmas which makes it worth visiting, even if it’s just for a day’s visit.

Here are some photos of the Advent Market in Quedlinburg, with a Flensburg Files Frage for the Forum with regards to one of the pictures. Our last stop on the tour is Halle (Saale) and a pair of questions about the town are also found at the end of the article. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures of the Advent Market:



Christmas tree being made of a tree branch at the Blue Star Courtyard at the Adventsmarkt……
…and after it was completed and put on display to be bought.
Blue Star Courtyard, one of 24 courtyards that you can see while at the Adventsmarkt
Market Square and City Hall, one of 24 Courtyards at the Adventsmarkt. Here, one can get a tour of the town by bus or try the various food specialties.
Rows upon rows of Fachwerk houses along Marktstrasse, with the St Nicolas Cathedral in the background
Quedlinburger Hof near Carl-Ritter-Strasse at the entrance to Word Garden: one of the largest and oldest of the Fachwerk-houses in the old town. It also has the largest of the Adventmarket stands.
Another example of what can be found in Quedlinburg: half-timbered houses, a cousin of the Fachwerk-houses. This one is found along Word Creek at the entrance to Quedlinburger Hof near Carl-Ritter-Strasse
Another example of a Fachwerk house in Quedlinburg’s old town: Hotel Zur Hoelle (Hint: think of Dante’s Inferno) because of its color. Inside you will find another Adventsmarkt courtyard with various stands
Wordhaus Restaurant at the border to the old town and Word Garden: one of many examples of a finely restored Fachwerk house.
Christmas tree with man-made ornaments


Frage for the Forum:

Can you guess what this tower is, how old it is and what it is used for? It is found at the Quedlinburger Hof near Carl-Ritter Strasse and has a history of its own:

 Please place your answers in the comment section. The question will also be posted on the Facebook site bearing the name: Flensburg Files by Monday 14 January. The answer will be provided then…..


The last stop on the tour is Halle (Saale), which will be presented next Monday. The question for the forum is the following:

1. What world renowned musician originated from Halle (and it is NOT Johann Sebastian Bach),  and

2. What else is Halle famous for, apart from its Christmas market?

Again, place your answers here as well as in the Facebook section. The answers will surprise you.


Note: The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles is looking for information on Quedlinburg’s historic bridges for there are plenty that exist in and around the city center, but little or no information on it. A link to the article can be found here.

Christmas Market Tour 2012: Buckau

When it comes to Christmas Markets, sometimes the best ones can be found either in the suburbs of a big city, like Magdeburg, or in rural communities. Why? There are many reasons to support this argument, as we look at the example here on our stop in Buckau. Located four kilometers south of Magdeburg’s Alter Markt along the Elbe River, the suburb of Buckau has 5,000 inhabitants and borders the other suburbs of Salbke, Westerhusen, Fermersleben and Altstadt. It is integrated into the railway and tram networks, making access to the suburb from Magdeburg easy. The suburb was created in 937 and was once the primary settlement for Slavs before they emigrated eastwards. And while the suburb has so many people, mostly between the ages of 25 and 40 and with families of their own, the suburb is one of the most densely populated in all of Magdeburg. While many historic buildings dating back to the 1800s are characteristic of the region, Buckau’s main commerce is the famous Engpass, consisting of one narrow street surrounded by historic buildings housing businesses and apartments and their lone church, St. Norbert. That street was named after German author Erich Weinert and connects the church and the adjacent Thiemestrasse to the south, where one can access the local tram service.

The Engpass was the main attraction of the Christmas market as we spent an hour touring Buckau. The Christmas market there created a sense of hominess as there was a small crowd of people conversing and dancing around the bonfires that existed, “angels” serving hors d’oeuvre to visitors and friends, people singing Christmas songs while watching their main buildings change color, and lastly, local goods being sold that are typical of the suburb, whether they were books, local specialties or even toy replicas of the Buckau Water Tower. Yet one can be very lucky to get one of them for free by visiting Santa Claus, if you are a child. Many of them received toy water towers for free and were happy.  However, the catch for visiting the smaller Christmas market is the fact that one has to be lucky to visit it when it takes place, for many of them like the ones in Buckau took place for only one day.  There is something special about having those one-day or one weekend markets in these areas. Apart from the fact that it reduces the chance of massive tourism and damages done to historic buildings and other places of interest, it also brings people together for one time to appreciate and take pride in what they have and what they can offer to people wishing to visit or even live in the region. It is family friendlier and more local than having Christmas markets that are commercialized, where people can see the same products and places of amusement in places like Nuremberg, Berlin, Frankfurt, etc. It creates a sense of identity that should be preserved and not exploited and perverted.  While some towns and villages have such Christmas markets that take place once during the month of December, the one in Buckau represents the one of the best examples of local Christmas markets that fits this theme. It leads to the question of whether other communities that do not have Christmas markets can use locality and identity and host a Christmas market for a day or weekend. This applies to communities in the USA, especially those whose names are typically German, like the ones in Minnesota: Fulda, New Trier, Flensburg and New Germany, just to name a few.  While these communities have a few hundred inhabitants, they also have grand ideas on how to make the community fun and more attractive for passers-by, and such a Christmas market would bring families and friends together and have them take pride in what the communities have done with them.

After an hour of Gluewein, socializing, pictures and all, it was time to return to the main market in Magdeburg’s Alter Markt for typical delicacies of Saxony Anhalt followed by a day trip to Quedlinburg the next day. But before moving on, here are some impressions of Buckau’s Christmas Market at Engpass and some facts for you to enjoy.

Flensburg Files Fast Facts:

1. Erich Weinert (1890-1953) was a German writer who was actively involved with the Communist Party and later with the Committee for a Free Germany. He was active in World War I as a soldier, the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) as a front line correspondent and World War II (in exile) creating propaganda to encourage German soldiers to leave the Nazi Movement and join the Soviets in forms of poetry and other written genres. Many streets, buildings and statues still bear his name today.

2. The Buckau Water Tower was one of a classic example of architecture that was built during the period of the Industrial Revolution in Buckau. It was built in 1913 and served many functions, including waste treatment and water storage. It was abandoned in the early 1990s but later converted into a park complex, as seen here.  Other places of interest in Buckau that are worth seeing include the Water Works Building, the Rayonhaus and the House of Society, in addition to the Engpass.


Gathering around the bonfire. Note, many of Buckau’s lamposts along Engpass are decorated with natural Christmas trees
One of Buckau’s historic buildings along Engpass- a focus of lights and glamor on this one-day event.
One of many historic buildings along Thiemestrasse in Buckau
Local stands, food and a great atmosphere at the Christmas Market at Engpass
One of Buckau’s ornamental street lamps hanging from the building, and of course, decorated with a Christmas tree.