September 1945 - Braunschweig to Lehrte

"In the morning we arrive in Lehrte. I get out, because I see a train going to Hamburg on the other side of the station. But I soon regret this move. People sit on the bumpers, the roof etc. I don’t manage to get on, and have to travel to Hannover after all, where these trains get deployed. The train I came on is long gone. "

We go first to the train station, which is where my Grandmother spent a night, locked in a station master’s office for safety, before she could continue with the next leg of her journey. I spend some time drawing on my own, and find it hard to put anything on paper that I can really connect with. It’s an impressive modern building, but looks a lot more modern than the 40’s, and I wonder if it was again bombed out during the end of the war.
29th July - Braunschweig to Lehrte
"I wait for a train to Hannover, with a heavily pregnant woman and her two children. The woman’s old mother managed to get on the Hamburg train with all their luggage. They’ve got no food now, and have also been through a lot. They want to go to Meldorf, where the husband is biding his time as a POW. […] "
When I leave to find Rach and we get on our planned train, she shows me old pictures of the station that she found, which clearly show it didn’t used to be here, but closer to the river – further into town. No wonder I didn’t feel connected to the place while I was drawing!
We decide to stay on the train, not turn back round and find the right station. It has been turned into offices now. As we travel, I do feel a tinge of regret for not going to the ‘right’ place. But also, as has been the case throughout, I remind myself that this is just as much about my present day journey, with all it’s errors, wrong turns, and modern changes, as it is about following the footsteps of Inge, where I can.

So, we walk from a small place, half way to Lehrte. Much of the route is through fields, and some small streams, all of which by now feels comfortingly familiar. I find myself feeling like I am journeying ‘right’ when I walk these paths, and ‘wrong’ when I spend too much time in a city not moving – interesting that these labels have begun creeping in!
Lehrte introduces itself to us on the outskirts as a very industrial place, a lot of things are made and sent from here. Once we arrive at the hotel, we learn from our online searching that it was once one of the most important train stations in the region, with lots of lines passing through – Wikipedia calls it an ‘Eisenbahnerstadt’ (trainstation town).

The town itself is largely uninteresting, quite residential and relatively large, but with little to see or do for visitors. Luckily the fair is in town, and it also has a large outdoor swimming pool, so we make the most of both, enjoying a pleasant, typically German (in my childhood memory, anyhow), summer evening.

The old station, built 1914
Lehrte Train station; overgrown buildings and wide platforms with huge trees growing up in the middle.