Home Events Konstanz: A bustling city is dying out

Konstanz: A bustling city is dying out

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The open border between Konstanz in Germany and Kreuzlingen in Switzerland is one of the achievements that has supposedly become self-evident. The sight of a border fence through which friends and relatives are talking breaks the hearts of the people here. Who would have thought it when a few years ago works of art were erected here to reinterpret the state border as an art border. © Jörg-Peter Rau and Südkurier

Shutdown and a somewhat depressing atmosphere: The otherwise flourishing city of Konstanz, on an average Saturday bustling with good-humoured people, appears deserted and quiet after the extensive curfews in Germany and neighbouring Switzerland.

It is deserted on the banks of the Rhine, which begins its long journey to the North Sea very close to this point at kilometre 0. Usually it is full of celebrating young people every weekend. © Jörg-Peter Rau and Südkurier
It is deserted on the banks of the Rhine, which begins its long journey to the North Sea very close to this point at kilometre 0. Usually, it’s full of celebrating young people every weekend. © Jörg-Peter Rau and Südkurier

The border with Switzerland, which had dissolved into a mere imaginary line over the past 20 years, is secured by metre-high fences. Only commuters are allowed from one country to another. Friends, families and clubs are separated for the foreseeable future.

There is a sign on the swing: Do Not Use. It reminds me of a Sunday on Puritan Harris, where I saw in the 1990s how a cable lock prevented children from using their playground. © Jörg-Peter Rau and Südkurier
There is a sign on the swing: Do Not Use. It reminds me of a Sunday on Puritan Harris, where I saw in the 1990s how a cable lock prevented children from using their playground. © Jörg-Peter Rau and Südkurier

It is going to be a Spring without the usual cosmopolitan atmosphere, which guests and exchange students and foreign scientists bring here, and the Lord Mayor is surely right when he says in an interview: “After Corona, it will be another city”. Especially retailers, all tourism-related companies and many other service providers are facing a hard time with no light at the end of the tunnel yet.

Many pilgrims start their long and strenuous walk to Santiago de Compostella right here after attending the Sunday mass in Constance Minster. This spring the pious journey will hardly be able to take place. © Jörg-Peter Rau and Südkurier
Many pilgrims start their long and strenuous walk to Santiago de Compostela right here after attending the Sunday mass in Constance Minster. This spring the pious journey will hardly be able to take place. © Jörg-Peter Rau and Südkurier

But at the same time, there is some hope. The Germans seem to have rediscovered their discipline this weekend: They stayed at home despite the hardest form of curfew not yet being in force. Unlike in neighbouring Bavaria, people in Baden-Württemberg were still allowed to go out for a walk on March 21. However, it was forbidden for more than two people to gather together unless they are a family and live together.

Saturday afternoon, 4pm, in the Konstanz pedestrian zone. Usually it is packed here with shoppers, many of whom are coming from Switzerland. On 21 March there is sadness. © Jörg-Peter Rau and Südkurier
Saturday afternoon, at 4 pm, in the Konstanz pedestrian zone. Usually, it is packed here with shoppers, many of whom are coming from Switzerland. On 21 March there is sadness. © Jörg-Peter Rau and Südkurier

The fight against the all too rapid spread of the coronavirus is widely supported now, and there is still hope that here in the south of Germany we will be spared conditions similar to those in near-by Northern Italy. The numbers of hospitalised patients is low so far, but everyone knows figures can explode at any time.

All photos were taken with an M 262 and Summilux 35mm and 90mm lenses

Read more from Jörg-Peter Rau

8 COMMENTS

  1. We have a lockdown in force till the middle of April. No chance of outdoor photography, there’s a fine and a possible jail sentence for violation of the curfew. Maybe I could learn a new language…

  2. Warm sympathies from shut-down Denmark. And I know the Switzerland-German border there and can imagine how desolate it feels. Very telling photos.

  3. I think we all share your feelings. Since we were out of the country recently, we are shut inside our house for two weeks. Tonight all businesses and non-essential services will be shut for the foreseeable future. Please protect yourselves until this is all sorted.

    On a positive note, I have lots of time to scan all those slides and negatives from decades ago, a job I’ve been putting off for years.

  4. Thank you very much for your kind comments.
    I can only encouage you to document the life you are living right now and to create photos of how your places look like in this moment. Of course only if you are not breaking a law by doing so! Here in Germany, we have no hard curfew yet, but people behave as if.
    If you have pictures and some text, Mike Evans might be quite happy to get some material for the blog we all enjoy to read and which deserves our support. This was the reason why I submitted this article at all. Mike ran a call for entries, and I just wanted to help him and offer some distraction or a small window to the world for you, friends.
    Keep your spirits, stay safe!

  5. Your images look so much like my hometown. Been confined for a couple of weeks now although some French people are not that disciplined. Keep safe

  6. It is looking like Kent, in England. I went out for a walk this afternoon to break up the day, and I met a few people all social distancing. But trust me it wasnt like normal.

    The best bit though, is how nice people are. The young that walk in bovine straight lines bumping in to all before them, are oddly now social space aware. Now that is an interesting twist on what is an unpleasant scenario.

    Keep safe folks, enjoy the break from normal life. Our fun and hobby will return again.

  7. Such sad images from one of my favourite parts of Europe, although I usually stay in Meersburg the other side of Bodensee.
    Hopefully the tourist industry will recover quickly as I look forward to a return visit.

  8. Dear all, thank you once more for your comments. We all shall not lose the hope that things will improve again. They will, and our lives will improve with the circumstances. Hopefully, some of the current achievements Dave Seargeant mentions will survive. We all can make a start, if we want. Mike Bareham – if you come to Meersburg again, do contact me via Mike Evans!

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