What is Heimat?

On Tuesday afternoon the local Taunus Zeitung newspaper held a discussion called “Was ist Heimat”?

Taking part were Thomas Gambichler from Dimension Data, Hansjörg Schlegel from Oberursel’s Ausländerbeirat, Gülsah Bayram from the project “Migrants help migrants” and Hilary Peacock, a South African English teacher who lived for many years in Oberursel.  The discussion was chaired by Dr. René Heinen from the newspaper’s book division.

Dr. René Heinen with Thomas Gambichler, Gülsah Bayram, Hilary Peacock and Hansjörg Schlegel

Dr. René Heinen with Thomas Gambichler, Gülsah Bayram, Hilary Peacock and Hansjörg Schlegel

Heimat is a term used in German to mean “home”, but it refers to more than just the place where you live.  It can mean the place where you originally come from, and has an old-world type of feel to it.  This is especially the case for families that had to leave their land in the wake of the Second World War.

It has also been a name used for a series of films, that in their own way depicted characters answering that very questions: Was ist Heimat?

The discussion on stage lasted about 30 minutes, but it was more of a presentation of each of the participants, what they do and their thoughts on Heimat.

I found the project “Migrants help migrants” (Migranten helfen Migranten) particularly interesting, as it is a voluntary scheme where people who have been through the process of moving to Germany and dealing with officials and schools for the first time, help others who are going through the same experience.

Dr. Heinen summarised the views on stage as follows:

Heimat is…

… where your family is

… where you have friens

… where your roots are


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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