The Arrival of the "Lüneburger Heide", Wittenberge, 25 December 1989: Ankunft der "Lüneburger Heide" in Wittenberge [37/44]



December 25 1989
Wittenberge, harbour
Created By: Horst Podiebrad

License: Not Creative Commons


boat, camera, crowd, orchestra, port, river


boat, brass band music, Christmas, fire service, inner German border, joy, mayor, port, welcome gift


Schnackenburg, Wittenberge

Text in image

Lüneburger Heide


Other items in this set


"At the end of November 1989, Mr. Borcher (mayor of the border town of Schnackenburg, West Germany), proposed to Mr. Niemeyer (mayor of Wittenberge) that they should arrange for the citizens of the two towns to celebrate the Christmas festivities together. Mr. Borcher intended to charter a pleasure boat, the Lüneburger Heide, and sail into Wittenberge harbour with around 300 citizens from West Germany. Horst Niemeyer asked the authorities to issue a permit so that the boat could sail along the Elbe border, which was still closed at the time. Although Christmas was drawing ever closer, they had not yet received any response from the authorities, customs, or border organs. Consequently, the boat cast off on the second day of Christmas without a permit – but this turned out to be no problem.

Meanwhile, some 5,000 residents from Wittenberge, as well as people from the outlying districts, were waiting in Wittenberg harbour for the boat to come in. Then the great moment finally arrived, and the Lüneburger Heide moored. There was incredible rejoicing on both sides, and we all had tears of joy in our eyes: 'A day like today, as wonderful as today, should last forever.' Mayor Horst Niemeyer welcomed the guests with bunches of flowers and they had flowers for us, too. A fire-brigade band played. Pedestrian maps of the town were handed out to help the guests find their way around the town. Others had brought along drinks as a form of welcome. It was pure joy all round. The harbour was packed with people. Everyone was pushing their way towards the guests, who were then invited by the mayor to the town hall and the tavern below.

Next there was an announcement. We Wittenbergers were invited for the return trip on the Lüneburger Heide at 1 p.m. so we could see Schnackenburg, the little border town. Once again there were outbursts of joy all round, and we spontaneously accepted the offer. When we arrived in Schnackenburg, we received a hearty welcome from the fire brigade, who also brought us some drinks and oranges.

I’m sure we’ll never forget these Christmas celebrations in 1989. Moreover, we’ll always enjoy looking at the photos. Nowadays, we often ride our bikes and the ferry to the former border town of Schnackenburg."

Horst Podiebrad (Wittenberge)

Original Caption

"25.12.1989 - 1st Day of Christmas. Wittenberg is in great, joyous expectation! A ship, namely the 'Lüneburger Heide', is to come with citizens from the neighbouring towns on the border of the river Elbe, across from Lütkenwisch, which resides on the local bank of the river: Schnackenburg, Gartow, Lüchow and Dannenberg." (translated from Horst und Ralf Podiebrad: DDR/D Wittenberge. Band 3, S. 132)