At home on both sides

The baker Krause maybe did not imagine that his shop in the Steinweg would host an international family. “Probably not”, say Agnieszka and Philipp Bormann. They bought the former bakery from Krause’s children and reconstructed the reverend building. In December 2015, the Bormanns moved in. The building offers a lot of space for the five family members. The parents have three boys aged 10, 7 and 3. “We are in a very happy phase of our lives right now”, says Agnieszka Bormann in the interview with the Saechsische Zeitung. The 43-year-old and her husband of the same age both have their roots far away. He came from Hildesheim, her roots are in the Polish town Kielce north of Krakow. In Görlitz they found a new common home, and they feel happy here. “We are glowing citizens of the European town”, both say. They naturally walk the streets of Görlitz and Zgorzelec and the surrounding. They cross borders, yet are both happy that those borders do not really mean a lot anymore. “We are living on both sides”, Agnieszka and Philipp Bormann stress out.


They are certain their lives would have been different without the fall of the wall; they probably never would have met. But as it is, they both were able to witness as Görlitz developed as a town like a living monument. A lot of things changed, most of it for the better. Both draw encouragement and confidence when looking at this change. “To me, it is really exciting to live here. It’s a convenient and beautiful place to create a new home”, says Agnieszka Bormann. The 43-year-old especially likes the short distances, the good infrastructure, all important things can be reached by feet.
She missed the life on both sides when living in Dresden for some time. “There, I was too far away from the atmosphere, the border region that I know so well and that I love.”
Eventually, Görlitz offered her a professional perspective after her degree in German language and literature in Poland and practice-oriented postgraduate studies. This experience brought her to the International Institute for cultural infrastructure in Saxony, a cooperation from the TU Dresden and the University of Zittau-Görlitz. Agnieszka started to work in the castle of Klingewalde in 2003, where she met Philipp Bormann in the office of Professor Vogt. Three years later, they became a couple, they married in 2011.   
Philipp Bormann came to Görlitz in 1997. After his civil service, he studied at the Humboldt-University Berlin for one year. In a newspaper he read about the opportunity to study in Görlitz and Dresden focusing on economics. Bormann drove to Görlitz. “All I saw was woods on the way. Yet, coming to Görlitz was great, the town immediately caught me”, he remembers. After the recruiting process he moved here and “I never regretted moving here, not for a second”, he states. He and his family decided to stay here in Görlitz. “We actually did not want to go anywhere else”, both are saying, but still not unsure whether that might change in later years. Perhaps sunny Italy would come in as an option, as it is the favourite country of them. Yet, for now, such plans are way ahead and both are very thankful for their living conditions. They surely did their part, but also got help from others, as they say. “We have an old house, and with its reconstruction we kind of set our commitment to stay here”, they say.
Having good work is a precondition to them, of course. Philipp is consultant to the general director of the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Theater, Agnieszka works as a cultural consultant at the Silesian Museum in Görlitz. For both their professions, it’s handy that they can speak Polish and German. Agnieszka goes to the movies with her friends for Polish and German films, to Philipp the Polish cinema is too laborious.
“I learned Polish with my kids, I understand most of it”, he says. He also gets along well with his parents-in-law, in Polish and German. The boys grow up bilingual. “For them, it’s natural, they don’t think about it”, Philipp Bormann explains. The eldest son also started to talk Polish to his mother, since he attended a bilingual school. Before that, he referred to it as the “grandma-language”, since the grandmother is Polish and cannot speak German well. “Before that, he only spoke it in Zgorzelec where he attended the music school”, his father says. “Our son is now recognizing the advantages of speaking both languages” Philipp says with pride. The younger sons are also following his example. Hence, it is no wonder that the mixture of languages is vivid in their kitchen at home as well, as one person asks something in German and the other one answers in Polish or vice versa.
Usually, they speak German at home, but when the grandpa from Poland joins them, the youngest son naturally switches to Polish, says Philipp Bormann, happy about his sons acting so naturally. Sometimes they act as interpreter at the kindergarten, at school or in their free-time when playing with other kids.

The Bormanns are not only living across borders, but also across religions. Agnieszka was raised Catholic, Philipp Protestant. Their children have not been baptized yet. The boys may decide later, what kind of religion they prefer. At school, they attend the Protestant religious course.
This, however, would find the approval of baker Krause, after all. And surely, the old man would send a smile to see how this German-Polish family is functioning – international understanding in small scale, being alive day after day.

Source: Saechsische Zeitung
Text: Gabriele Lachnit
Picture: Nikolai Schmidt

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