Unless you’re into military history it is unlikely that you have heard of the place I live in: Hohenlockstedt. It is situated between Hamburg and Kiel, not far from the rural town of Itzehoe.
Hohenlockstedt is not a farming village, but started out as a military camp and training area. Growing rapidly it became famous when the German Emperor visited the troops. Around World War 1 there were 100 000 soldiers stationed in the Lockstedter Lager, as Hohenlockstedt was then called.
In 1915 a group of Finnish soldiers were trained in the Lockstedter Lager. They came secretly to get support in their fight for independence against Russia. Ever since there has been a close friendship between Hohenlockstedt and the Finnish, with delegations and school classes visiting each other regularly.
Looking around Hohenlockstedt you will find many buildings and street names dating from the time of Hohenlockstedt being a military camp.
After World War 1 the training area was divided and turned into farm land. Most farmers grow potatoes and the community is represented by a “Kartoffelkönigin” (Potato Queen).
Today, Hohenlockstedt is a small center for the farming villages nearby. There are four supermarkets, a boutique, a book store and a shop selling both fine foods and decorative things for your home. You will find two florists which sell beautiful flowers and plants and there are four restaurants, not to forget the best Italian ice-cream parlor in the whole of North Germany.
If you are interested in sports you will find a sports club offering fitness training, volleyball, athletics and much more and of course there is a football club. If you are into arts you will also find many interesting things in my community: a small historical museum run by community members and a quite well known Center for Modern Art (M1). Not far away, near a former military airport, there is a small colony of artists and craftsmen and the former military area is used for outdoor concerts and events, such as a trucker meeting or Oldtimer ralleys. The small “Volkshochschule”, offers evening classes, for instance in cooking or playing guitar.
I appreciate all the things Hohenlockstedt has to offer. It is a good place to live in, but still I feel as an outsider. Due to long work hours and commuting, I have little time during the week to get involved in community activities.
I know and like my neighbours and we always have a chat when we meet, but no close friendships have developed. When I walk our dog I meet many people and while our dogs are playing we talk about this and that. I know the names of their dogs, but I don’t know the names of their owners, where they live and what they do.
While I am outgoing at work where I communicate with all kind of people all day long, I am a rather quiet and private person at home. I like people but I have few close friends. So living here without a network of good friends and acquaintances has more to do with my reserved ways than with the people in Hohenlockstedt.
One of my goals for the coming months is to get to know more places in Hohenlockstedt. I will visit the museum, the M1 Art center and the artist colony and promise to tell you about it.