Poles find their Lebensraum in the West. Drang nach abandoned East Germany is the new trend.

16 02 2008

Authrs: Jolanta Kowalewska, Adam Zadworny, Alex Kuehl
Source: Gazeta Wyborcza
Translation from Polish for this blog: MoPoPressReview

* * *

A for pre-war 200m house with 5,500 metres square of land in a tiny German village of Hochenseldoff, several kilometres away from the Polish-German border, costed Piotr Wychadończuk 50,000 zł (nearly $25,000). ‘I can’t afford an appartment in Poland. In Szczecin metropolis this money would buy me a garage’, he says. ‘Besides, my wife and I are having twins and we need more Lebensraum’.

‘Eurosceptics from right-wing parties were threatening with the Germans coming and buying our land when we join the EU – and it’s the total opposite’, laughs Bartłomiej Sochański, a barrister from Szczecin and honorary consul of Germany. Even before the Schengen Agreement came to effect in Poland, Poles had been settling on the other side of the Oder river.

Garden fire only with Fire Department permission

‘To live in Germany you need: a letter box, a blue barrel and a current account in a German bank’, Jacek reveals basic rules of living behind the border. He’s 31, owns a two-bedroom flat in Szczecin and a stationary selling business. In spring 2007 he bought 3 hectares of German land in Radekow together with a former firefighters’ station. He’ll move in this spring with his wife, 4-year-old son and parents. A shiny letterbox is already hanging on the fence.

‘That’s the first thing you have to get’, says Jacek, ‘in order to receive official letters from institutions. ‘Thank goodness first class letters in Germany don’t need to be delivered in person, therefore I never have to go to the post office’.

– And what do you need the blue barrel for?

‘German thrift. They all use rain water for their gardens rather then a hose.

– And an account?

‘I hired an architect, and it turned out he didn’t accept cash’.

Jacek shows me around other houses purchased by the Polish. Each of them is equipped with solar power screen. Solar energy heats houses and water. Only dog houses don’t have them. And Jacek’s place. It’s a long one-storey building, which soon will be demolished to make way for Jacek’s new semi-detached.

– How will you handle the commute?

‘Oh, it’ll be easier then now. Even a taxi can drop me here after a night out in Szczecin’.

– And how do you communicate with German civil servants?

‘I don’t speak any German at all’.

– Really?

‘The lady at the Department of Housing was surprised too’.

Jacek wonders whether to register his son to a German pre-school. So far his little son practices his language skills when he meets his neighbours. It’s an elderly couple, who are pleased to have new new people in the area. They brought their home-made jam for Jacek’s family to try.

‘Friends were warning me about some German neo-fascist parties. I haven’t seen anyone like that yet’.

– What surprised you here the most?

‘That you can’t make a fire in your own garden. You need a permission from Fire Department and you need to pay somewhat 10 euro’ for that.

Roe-deer feeding classes

Joanna and Tadeusz Czapscy moved to a forrester’s cottage near Tantow, which they bought together with three hectares of land, ten roe-deer, a bat, and a pond full with crucian carp.

Their estate lies around 25km from the Szczecin city centre. In Poland Mr and Mrs Czapski lived in one of the communist blocks of flats. ‘Commute from that flat and from Tantow takes the same amount of time’, Mr Czapski explains. ‘After Schengen, I pop into my car and drive. Keine grenzen!’.

The price was right as well. 90,000 euro.

Joanna and Tadeusz’s cottage looks charming with wooden fence and hedge. Pasturage for roe-deer is visible from a distance. Deer have 2 hectars of forrest for themselves. Only during the winter they need to be fed.

‘When I saw these roe-deer I knew it’s aither this house or none for me’ recalls Joanna. ‘Previous owner told us when they eat all the nettle, it’s the time to start feeding.

What surprised them the most, was the fact that if they wanted to keep the roe-deer they had to complete a course on how to take care of wild animals.

Joanna walks around the house repeating: “bread – brot”, “buns – brotchen”, “butter – butter”. – We’ll be doing the shopping on the Polish side, as it’s still cheaper. But when we run out of something I have to know the basic words – she says.

A neighbour is busy with something behind the fence. A German man in his thirties.

‘When my lawn-mower broke down, be was here to lend me his within seconds. That’s how we met. He’s a really nic chap’.

We have level pavements

‘This house was four times cheaper, then a similar house in a Polish village. Only the pavement here is level, there is street light, and it’s generally safe’, explains Bartek Wójcik.

House bult in 1865 roku is around 200 metre sq. on a 1000 metre sq patch. 23,000 Euro. For Poles a real Bargain!

Bartek and his wife Danka are running “OFFicyna” association in Szczecin, which is renowned organiser for cultural events like Szczecin film festivals. Last year they decided to get on the property ladder. They tried to buy a flat in Szczecin, or a house in the country. Too expensive. They decided to choose Germany.

Their haouse stands on a hill, the driveway covered with cobblestone. Spruce and thuja trees grow on sides. Red barn with massive door stands graciously in the middle.They’re discovering the rules of life in the village of Schwennentz. What surprised them the most was German’s thrift. For instance in autumn the whole village prepares one joint order for heating oil. Because it’s cheaper that way.

‘Before Schengen it took us 20 minutes to commute to work in Szczecin, and since Schengen it feels as if we lived in one of the city districts’.

Little towns becoming Polish

‘Poles usually seek houses between 100 and 200 metre sq., not further than 30 kilometres from the border’, says Mariola Dadun, who together with her German husband run a real estate agency serving both sides of the border.

It is estimated that around 2000 Polish families purchased houses in Meklemburg and Brandenburg recently.

Penkun, Gartz and Loecknitz are the towns with largest Polish population – around 200 live in the latter. A Polish-German middle school has been open in Loecknitz for several years. One third of students, around 160, are Poles. A businessman from Szczecin launches a new Petrol station in Loecknitz. Polish company builds a new residential development. One of towns hotel is town-house converted by a Polish couple. Hair-dos in Locknitz are also Polish-made. A Polish businesswoman opened there a hair salon.

It is amazing how the West European borders, previously both so desired and hated, are simply disappearing. Just like that.

* * *

If you enjoyed this post why not visit Polandian, a collaborative blog on Poland.




22 responses

16 02 2008

And why can’t I find mybizelf and myselife in Szczecin right now? 23,000 Euro! Shite, I could live with that. Could even tip my barber. (No, no German barber. Let’s not overdo things.)

18 02 2008

Interesting – and bloody cheap!

18 02 2008

Great story! I love the idea that Germany and Poland are kind of merging into one another at the edges. Seems so civilized. I just hope there’s never a time in the future when people feel the need to push each other around again into neat political boundaries. Probably a vain hope.

4 03 2008
michael farris

So Poles are free to buy land wherever they like while foreigners can’t buy land in Poland? Is this fair?

4 03 2008

It is fair, Germans are allowed do work in Poland, while Poles aren’t allowed to work in Germany. This is temporary and was negotiated in the accession treaty.

4 03 2008
michael farris

Two wrongs make a right?

I would say neither rule is fair, citizens of both countries should be able to work and buy land in both.

6 03 2008

You have too many grammatical eroors and spelling errors in this story. I know English is a second language, but so many errors is not common.
Otherwise, good.

7 03 2008

=> Tom
Last time I checked out Beowulf, some Cynewulf’s, they had spelling and grammatical errors — too many for anything purporting to be the specimens of the English literature.
Otherwise, good.

7 03 2008

Your publication and Beowolf are the only publication that blatently misspells words and makes grammatical erros. What do you call that? Is that good work? Why not put a stamp across your forehead “I’m a *&^%’in idiot”.

7 03 2008
Michael Farris

Tom, let’s see you do a better job before you criticise.

“Your publication and Beowolf(‘s) are the only publication(s) that blatently (blatantly) misspells (misspell) words and makes (make) grammatical erros (errors). What do you call that? Is that good work? Why not put a stamp across your forehead “I’m a *&^%’in idiot”.


9 04 2008
9 04 2008

Michael Farris,

good point:)
However Poles were too afraid that for the Germans Poland is too much like Mallorca and that rich German capitalists would come and buy land here. While Germans were afraid all the English-speaking Poles would go to Germany to work:))

Add fears to a handful of politicians, and a deal is ready:)

In the meantime we’ve got Poles travelling to the British Isles, with British and Irish buying real estate in Poland:)
They got it a bit wrong, I guess:>

26 04 2008
Raf Uzar

These European divisions can all really be rattled down to one: east vs. west.

10 06 2008

Is this blog dead? Or has it moved somewhere else?

12 06 2008

‘Dead’ is a strong word. ‘Resting while its owner pretends to study for exams’ might be a more appropriate description… we hope.

12 06 2008

I read it every day.

20 06 2008

island1 got right to the point;)

29 03 2009

Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

8 04 2009

Hello !!!! 😉
I am Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that your posts are really interesting
And want to ask you: will you continue to post in this blog in future?
Sorry for my bad english:)
Thank you:)
Your Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

27 08 2009
apartments wroclaw

Sorry…I live in Poland and I have lived in Germany and I know that in Poland people don’t earn to much so I doubt that they have enough money to buy a house in Germany.

29 11 2009
Straubing Immobilien

I live in Niederbayern and I don’t see too much interest from people from Poland to buy real estate here. But there are some who are looking for renting apartments.

23 06 2010

“It is amazing how the West European borders, previously both so desired and hated, are simply disappearing. Just like that”

the border between poland and germany wasn’t the west european border because eastern germany was under the soviet rule too so nobody ever desired to cross it 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: