Visit to the Havenwelten, the interesting, lively urban quarter of the maritime city.
We migrate. Just as we did more than 100 years ago. We stand at the quay in Bremerhaven in the evening after dark and say goodbye to our loved ones. We hear the voices of other emigrants and the blessings of those who will remain behind. We are certainly not the only ones who have a lump in our throats - although this is all just an exhibition. For there is an almost palpable heaviness in the air. We empathize - feel sadness, loss and the courage of despair. A little later, we board the ship and experience the crossing. On the way to the immigration office on Ellis Island near New York, our pulse rises because heart palpitations can be heard over the loudspeakers in the room, and we ask ourselves: What awaited the people who emigrated from here to America? Did their hopes come true? Was it a farewell forever?
The German Emigration House in Bremerhaven is a museum that makes it possible to relive the journey of the approximately seven million emigrants who set out from the New Harbor between 1840 and 1974 on an uncertain journey to a new life in a way that touches the senses. The permanent exhibition tells history and stories, traces fates - and at the same time allows visitors to follow the path of emigration room by room. Since a few weeks, the exhibition does not end with the arrival in America, but also tells 31 stories of immigrants to Bremerhaven - in a new, avant-garde looking building. The German Emigration Center is a stroke of luck in the museum landscape in this country - and it is not the only one in the Havenwelten: The Klimahaus and the German Maritime Museum are also absolutely worth seeing.
Welcome to the Havenwelten! After a night at the ATLANTIC Hotel Sail City, which is shaped like a sail and sits like a lighthouse right on the dike, Maike Weihrauch picks us up and we go exploring with her. Maike works in Bremerhaven for the small tour operator Natur Pur Reisen, which offers tours of the city and the surrounding area - and she is our guide today. First we take her elevator, via a side entrance of the hotel up to the roof of Sail City, which is designed as an observation deck. From up there, at a height of almost 90 meters, we enjoy the panoramic view over the city district. The Havenwelten and the city center lie at our feet, along with the overseas ports, the Weser River and, in the distance, the North Sea. And over all this, the sun and the shadows of the clouds sweep away at high speed. A good mood for a day full of impressions.
London has its Docklands, Hamburg the Hafencity - and Bremerhaven for a few years now, the Havenwelten. Because the area around the old and new harbors was being abandoned piece by piece, the Hanseatic city at the mouth of the Weser created completely new spaces - and they were filled with a lot of young, modern life. Guests can now experience an urban quarter that is as much at home with a maritime flair and rough North Sea charm as it is with world-class museums. The quarter also thrives on its contrasts, Maike tells us, whose favorite place is the New Harbor with the marina: "I like it here, the stall magic with the Ferris wheel, the ships in the marina, walking along the dike in the evening," says the young woman, who has lived in Bremerhaven for many years. Despite the wind, she walks with us along the rough waterfront along the dike, dressed in summer clothes. There, the wind is once again tugging at everything you carry with you. At the sailing harbor with its swing bridge we stand for a while and watch how the small boats are let in and out via a lock. We eat fish rolls and roasted almonds on the way, look at the emigrant monument and scurry also once across the large MY outlet & shopping center here. Better get out again, there is so much to see in the Havenwelten. And the salty air is good for you. The view of the Weser widens the horizon, and a visit to the most important museums deepens the view of the world.
So, museum walk, part 2: The centerpiece of the German Maritime Museum, which focuses on man's interaction with the sea, is the Bremen cog from 1380 - a single-masted merchant ship that was found in Bremen and has been fully restored since 2000. And because it is a truly unique exhibit, we will focus on it today: On two levels, you can admire the wooden wreck standing in its own hall from all sides. Maike has been here several times and is impressed anew every time: "You have to imagine, this ancient cog was found by chance in 1962 in the mud of the Weser," Maike tells us, "and it first had to be stored for years in a tank holding 800,000 liters of preservation fluid before it could be further restored and finally exhibited here." No matter where she once traveled with goods, her journey to here in the museum was very long in any case.
Only a few meters from the Maritime Museum stands the Climate House, which looks like a glowing ship or UFO. There, in just a few hours, you travel along the 8th degree of longitude through eight countries, from Antarctica to Switzerland, Niger, Sardinia and Samoa. Today we take the small detour via the museum harbor, which belongs to the German Maritime Museum, climb around on the ships there for a while. And then we set off on a round-the-world trip. And it seems quite real, because the temperature is constantly changing, it's as if an airplane keeps spitting us out on another continent, only we're not flying, we're changing rooms: In Antarctica, Maike slithers with us briskly at sub-zero temperatures along a narrow path through the eternal ice, in the warm, humid climate of the South Seas we slow our pace again and are glad to roam temperate zones like Switzerland and Sardinia in between. The Klimahaus is a unique world of knowledge and experience on the topics of climate, climate change and weather. It focuses on global warming and uses personal portraits of people to make people understand what it means for the earth's inhabitants. It's a serious topic, but you don't just learn a lot about distant countries and climatic contexts along the way. You simply have fun with this colorful, furious trip around the world, which is also ideally suited for families with smaller children.
In the end, we gain the impression with Maike, that all this is no coincidence - that these three special exhibition houses belong precisely on this patch of earth. Because this port district was and is a gateway to the big, wide world. All three exhibitions succeed in giving visitors an idea of what life is like for people all over the world, no matter where they stop - in the past, far away on the 8th degree of longitude or somewhere on the sea: beauty and joy, fragility and drama, hope and wanderlust, thinking, feeling, dispersion and courage and a sense of home. And the insight that we are all ultimately in the same boat.
Cover photo: View of the Havenwelten - Bremerhaven's maritime tourism center with unique attractions © Anne Mäder