© Copyright photograph by Frohlinde and Klaus Paasche, December 2008
My aunt and uncle (one of my father’s four sisters) e-mailed this photo with their Christmas greetings a few hours ago. They live next to my deceased grandfather’s house, in which my cousin and her family now live.
Gartow is a small town in Landkreis Lüchow-Dannenberg, Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Deutschland. It is a few kilometres down the road, eastward, from grandfather’s house and orchard in Höhbeck, and nearby Brünkendorf. During the Cold War and the reality of two German nations, this little rural corner bulged into the DDR (Demokratische Deutsche Republik), the communist state. It is here, another few kilometres east, where the river Elbe, coming from the North Sea and Hamburg, disappeared into the DDR at the village of Schnackenburg, famous for its storks and their nests on the thatched roofs of the local houses.
On my summer visits in the 1980s, I often cycled the country roads, paths, and dikes. Grandfather passed away about two weeks after his 100th birthday, simply not waking up one morning. His birthdate was October 18, 1896.
This photo reinforces my many fond Christmas memories.