The Lithuanians at the End of the Road

I haven’t been writing much because I moved back to Germany 6 weeks ago. I will be here for two semesters while I am teaching at Leuphana University near Hamburg. The first six weeks have been the usual rush of purchases (phones, bicycles, groceries, etc. etc.), trying to do things, and then somehow make it back home without getting lost. A big challenge for doing this is to find the easiest path between my apartment, and the university some 5-6 kilometers away. As is usual with me in new cities, I spend my share of time getting lost, wandering about new hallways, streets, and bike paths.

A big challenge for doing this is to find the easiest bike path between my apartment, and the university some 5-6 kilometers away.  As is usual with bike paths, the best ways are often away from traffic, and through the backways and alleyways.  In my new commute this means riding through a dirt path, which goes under a highway and along a river, and then pops out at the end of a shady dead-end cobblestoned lane which I suspect was once the old road.

At the end of this alley there seem to be always 2-3 parked vehicles with Lithuanian license plates.  They seem to be a varying mix of two or three vehicles, especially vans and trailers.  They disappear during the day, and often change.  All of them though look like they are packed full of household goods.  Chairs, tables, beds, children’s toys, and so forth.  A washing machine was sitting there this morning.  Once I saw a man cooking on a kerosene stove, and I have seen others sitting around smoking and chatting.  I am almost to the point that we acknowledge each other, but not quite.  I wonder what vehicles from Lithuania are here in this remote dead end lane?

Lithuania is now a Schengen country, and a member of the European Union, which means that  Lithuanians are permitted to enter Germany without a visa, and to seek work.  I wonder what story the people at the end of this alley have to tell?



3 thoughts on “The Lithuanians at the End of the Road

  1. Most probably the people you saw were the ones who gather stuff Germans get rid of, and that end of the road is used as a parking space for the night.
    Some people from Lithuania go to Germany in their vans, spend about a week driving through towns there, gathering all the things that are thrown away (from toys and cutlery to washing machines, fridges and furniture) + things from recycle stations.
    In Lithuania they sort those things out, clean and mend them, and, after that, sell them in markets that are famous for second hand goods (Kaunas Aleksotas market, Kalvarija market, Rietavas market, just to name a few).
    For some families this activity is the only source of (decent) income.
    So that’s the story in a nutshell. Old German things get new lives in Lithuania. :) Years ago I bought two washing machines from such sellers, and both of them still work fine. Many of the things they sell are good old school quality stuff that lasts even longer than modern appliances.

  2. You are probably right on your assessment of what I saw! Be assured the the supply of used German washers is still making its way eastward.

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