For more than twenty years now, I have been spending intensive periods of my life a hundred kilometres north-west of Hamburg, beyond Stade and before you get to Cuxhaven. Before that I had moved around Germany a lot, and as a journalist saw a great deal of life.
But here, behind the dike of the River Oste – here I have grown roots. Here I have restored old houses. Here I have planted trees and written books and fathered a daughter. Over the years, the country and the people have become my home. My Lower Saxony is the largely drained marshland area measuring about a hundred square kilometres around Osten on the Oste, a quiet little place much appreciated by local day-trippers because of its postcard-like idyllic charm – with the church spire, the “Fährkrug” pub and the transporter bridge, an internationally extolled technical monument built at the time of the Kaiser.
In this, my very personal corner of Lower Saxony, I’m afraid I cannot do justice to the other almost eight million nice people who have settled in the remaining 47,500 square kilometres between Helgoland and the Harz Mountains, between Nordhorn and Lüneburg, or live in Wilhelmshaven or Wolfsburg, Goslar or Göttingen. I ask them to bear with me.