A German’s Story

by Anonymous
For me the ultimate goal will be that after having taken bite sizes of time out of my life for about a year I will make the move back to Germany on 30 September 2017 – after 22 years in the UK (I will turn 38 in October). On the back of this huge shuffle sits the very readable list of downsizing, selling my flat, moving into rented accommodation, terminating my job, handing over all freelance arrangements and business contacts I build in London, packing boxes, donating unwanted items, moving in itself, finding a place to live in Germany, registering the address, completing all the legalese, signing up for insurance, sorting out pension arrangements and setting up a bank account. I could add a few but this pretty much sums things up – except that it doesn’t…It would be a lie if anybody could sit in front of a computer intending to write a project plan and then pitch this to an audience in the form of a Gantt chart. We are talking human lives after all! On the back of this my humble steps will only be the first in an extended family move of an oldest sister and a twin sister with her family. Neither knows for sure whether their qualifications are transferrable to another country, but will work hard to transfer what they can – mine are definitely not so I will have to adapt professionally or start again. They will move to protect the future of their family, our extended family, marriage and their right to live together with three different passports and nationalities. All this plays out against the backdrop of a family of great grandparents, grandparents, parents, us three with partners and children reaching across three different countries with professional paths taking us from Greece and Germany, into Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland and the UK. We took our opportunities as the greatest accomplishment of our ancestors’ sacrifices. The story we wrote became our right and what made us unique as a generation; our glue is blue with yellow glitter. We travelled together by driving across border crossings at our liberty and saw entire walls crumble as we grew older. We shared fresh food from all over the world at our dinner tables. We drank wine from further afield then our grandparents could have ever walked to. The EU became our oxygen! It has become who we are – our DNA… Yet, all this changed in one night. Who knows where we go from here? What plays on all our minds is the fear of whether this is just the beginning of the worst nightmare we will come to witness OR the end of a bad dream we will eventually recover from.

A German and Irish couple’s story

by SR, Germany and Irish husband
London has been amazing for us, my Irish husband and me, German. We have lived here for almost 20 years and we came with nothing. My husband got into Advertising after working in different restaurants for several years, because he was told that he was good with numbers. I arrived with my degree in Paintings Conservation. He managed to set up 2 companies from scratch and after working for other restorers I set up my own studio just before we started having children. All 3 of them are English by heart with a German passport. They could have the Irish one, but my husband has not been that organised. I have always been conscious as a German working in English Art Collections as we were brought up feeling ashamed of our country’s history. But it did not hinder my career! I have had fabulous projects for the National Trust, the V&A and other wonderful organisations. My husband was lucky enough to sell both his agencies and leave immediately as he wanted to find a new path in life. Based on this new found freedom we took our 3 children out of school last summer on the basis of home schooling and went on a sabbatical trip around world. What timing! I will never forget the moment waking up at 5am and seeing the Brexit vote results! Both of us immediately did not feel welcome anymore, because we had lived away from our home countries for so long, we had started to identify ourselves as Europeans. But I know, we have been so lucky to set off and observe the developments from a distance and I have been a member of this group almost from the beginning and I have felt heartbroken so many times reading your stories. We just went away to teach our children about different cultures in the hope that this will create kindness and openness in their hearts for every human being. We volunteered in a school in India, we hiked in the Himalayas and we took Spanish classes in South America. Throughout our trip we were constantly debating – what next? And we often had sleepless nights. In early July we returned to London and we were welcomed so warmly by all our friends. There did not seem to be a change at all and Lambeth had the highest voters to remain anyway. But there is this anger inside me and it does not go away. We should all be working together as a united Europe as it was founded as a historical consequence. So many people have stated the facts here. So I am not going further into the long debate we all had numerous times. But it has led to our decision to leave London. We have found a flat in Berlin. It is all very rushed to get there on time before school starts at the end of the month. I am very grateful that we have the freedom to make this decision and I have spoken to many people who can’t. But in my heart I will continue to support each and everyone of you! And who knows? We might not like Berlin and we are very aware that this could be a big mistake. After all the UK has been our home for 20 years and we missed it very much during our world trip. I have only now started telling people and all my lovely colleagues I have worked with. It is daunting to start out again in Berlin with no contacts. But I also need to settle the kids first, who don’t want to go….

Meike’s Story

I remember the day we first met. I arrived eight hours late for our date at Liverpool Street station. My ferry from Bremerhaven to Harwich had been delayed, bad weather dragging out a cold and sea-sickening passage. It was love at first sight when I finally got off the train and we took in the sights along the Thames, passing Tower Bridge and many others on our way to the other end of town.

Read moreMeike’s Story

A German EU Citizen’s Story (1)

Good bye Britain

We have not experienced xenophobia or discrimination yet. We even have been offered a mortgage despite me being non-UK-citizen. I don’t think our case is very dramatic or worth being published in a book, nevertheless Brexit has turned our lives ‘upside down’ and this gives me the opportunity to summarise everything that has gone through my head, particularly since the 13th of March 2017.

Read moreA German EU Citizen’s Story (1)