I was born on Sunday, 29 April 1962 at 23.00 in the Wittmund District Hospital in East Frisia. I grew up on the small farm in America, Hesel, in the Geest of Central East Frisia. My parents Hilda and Diedrich Rahmann managed a farm with about 10 cows, young cattle, 3-5 sows and some fattening pigs, about 100 chickens, a fish pond (0.2 ha) with forest and 20 hectares of grassland. This farm was typical for the area. I went to school in a village school which had only two classes and 20 pupils. Here I could go on foot. When the school was dissolved, I had to attend the primary school in Reepsholt. After the 4th class I came into the orientation stage to Friedeburg. Then at the age of 10 I had to walk from America through Russia to Friedeburg to the Realschule. There I went up to the 10th class.
After the Realschule Altes Amt Friedeburg I went to the Mariengymnasium in Jever, did not want to work yet but to learn something, much to the regret of my father (farmer, house butcher, unskilled worker on the building). He told me that I should not imagine myself to be anything better. So much for my relationship with my father, who died at 56 in 1989.
In Jever I got to know completely different people - freaks. I found it very exhausting and also shaped myself. My youth up to the age of 18 (Abi) I let myself be shaped by this scene or I shaped others (clique in Reepsholt). I got few guidelines and many liberties from home and enjoyed to savour my life, to be different than the bores from the village. In Reepsholt I got to know my best friend Michael, who was the son of the pastor and is just as out of the way. I did a lot with him.
Ostfriesland (1962 - 1980):
Mit 18. Jahren bin ich von Ostfriesland nach Hannover in die Voltastrasse gezogen (Zweizimmerwohnung mit Zentralheizung, welch ein Luxus). Als erster Kriegsdienstverweigerer des Dorfes musste ich Zivildienst machen. Ich hatte in der Drogenberatung in Hannover ("Hinterhaus") eine Stelle bekommen. Den Zivildienst habe ich eher als Pflicht durchgezogen, der Leiter und einige Mitarbeiter waren Alt-68er, die ich als Theoretiker nicht so gut ab konnte (Wichtigtuer). Als Lebemensch fühlte ich mich in Hannover aber sehr wohl, war sehr aktiv: Demos organisieren, gegen Atomkraftwerke etc. demonstrieren gehörte zum Alltag. In Hannover hat auch meine damalige Freundin Helga ihre Kindergärtnerinnen-Ausbildung gemacht. Wir waren zwar schon seit 16 zusammen, hatten aber doch sehr verschiedene Entwicklung genommen. Sie brav und ich freak. Waren in Hannover nur noch kurz zusammen. Dafür hatte ich bald eine andere Freundin aus Dortmund - Barbara - die bald mit ihrer Freundin Sabine zu mir nach Hannover gezogen sind. Habe eine billige 5 Zimmerwohnung in der Badenstedter Strasse gefunden.
Hannover (1981 - 1982):
If he wanted to study organic farming, he had just founded the Witzenhausen site at the University of Kassel (Vogtmann). I inquired there and learned that an internship year was necessary. Then I found an address of Bertram Eberhard in Weißenbach on the Meißner on board in the Mensa, called and hitchhiked. There we agreed that I would do the internship with him. Then I looked for an apartment (Carmshausen) nearby and moved from Hanover to Hesse. Barbara moved to Göttingen, where she got a medical study place. So we were together for another year. The work at Bertram did me good (after hanging out in Hannover). Much, much, much work (6.00 - 20.00 o'clock, every second weekend milking service), but nice people. But after one year I was also happy to be finished. But I fell in love with the area and the landscape. But I didn't want to stay in Witzenhausen, too many noble ecosystems. My new friends were now studying in Göttingen. That's where the post went anyway, because it was a very conventional study. Activism fitted there much better. We lived in Planckstraße in a community of 10, did a lot and enjoyed student life to the full. From 1983 to 1990 my studies of agricultural economics lasted (I didn't want to learn cruelty to animals and to spray plants dead). It was a great time. In 1987 we bought a farmhouse in Bischhausen as a whole, were just 23 years old, had no money but visions and energy. They built up an organic farm, restored a listed farm and founded an organic wine trade. We learned more there than we did during our studies. Otherwise, the jobs were always a good source of financing and training: bar jobs, construction, landscape conservation, driving tractors and combine harvesters, organizing conferences, typing in dates, driving taxis, leading groups, etc. etc. etc... The farm was intended for self-sufficiency. The ecoscene was still very small, in the Göttingen area practically all our friends. Barter was the connecting point. We wanted to found a counter-society. That's why we were active with the Greens from 1986, e.g. as members of the district parliament or in the local council.
Göttingen, Witzenhausen und Bischhausen (1983 - 1999):
The studies at the University of Göttingen (agricultural economics) were already connected with many journeys (Africa, South America, Asia). I wanted to become a development aid worker. With my diploma thesis about dairy cow husbandry in Mzuzu, Malawi, my supervisor Prof. Manig asked me if I did not want to do a doctorate in the field of animal husbandry economics in the Sahel zone of Sudan. That was my dream. It should start right after my studies. Had a lot of friends, a lot of lottery life and was free. Until I got to know Klaudia in October (she knew her very well and found her very attractive right from the start). Klaudia studied in Witzenhausen and lived in a flat share in Ermschwerd - also everything freaks. On 7 December, 6 weeks after our meeting (in Holland), we secretly married only our witnesses in Weißenborn, Hesse. This of course threw my travel plans and/or my freedom somewhat over my head. But we agreed that I should go anyway (18 months without contact). So far all foreign journeys were connected with the end of a crate. Here I was already afraid. The departure had been postponed because of the 1st Gulf War to August 1991. Klaudi became also pregnant. I drove, into the desert. Was a very drastic experience: the heat, the poverty in the drought (up to starvation), the homesickness. When I got to know Ayla, our daughter, on Christmas vacation (she was already 3 months old), I didn't want to leave again. But I had to.
But then I came back in April, field phase was over, everything was too violent. Klaudia and I first moved together, to Bischhausen. Their roommates Harald and Jogi came with me. It was a nice but not so feaky troop. I was the last one left from the first occupation. Kim was born only 14 months later (both wish children). In Bischhausen we were able to raise them very well. The farm offered everything that was necessary for a carefree and exciting childhood. Jogi and Betty also had kids and it was suddenly very rich in children in the whole circle of acquaintances. At the campfire there was no longer a discussion about the world revolution but about raising children and bathroom tiles.
Everything has an end. My job in Witzenhausen ran out, I had the feeling anyway, that something new had to be done and I applied everywhere where I could earn money and which was somewhat demanding. That I got the job as director of the Federal Research Institute for Organic Agriculture, I and probably nobody else had on the agenda. This was a huge career jump, much better than any professorship in agricultural sciences.
In 2000 I moved to Trenthorst in Schleswig Holstein to an old manor house that belonged to the institute. At first without Klaudi and the kids. I was allowed to set up an institute with a large budget and a lot of staff without any specifications. It was a lot of fun for me, it cost a lot of energy (especially to integrate organic farming into the absolutely conservative departmental research). In 2002 Klaudi followed up with the kids after I had my life contract in my pocket. I bought a house in Bad Oldesloe, which was practical for the kids with the school and away from work. In Oldesloe politically engaged and interfered, life goes on and must remain exciting.
Oldesloe und Trenthorst (2000 - heute):
I was born a year after the Wall was built. For me there were always two German states. The first time I drove with the school class through the GDR was in 1976, when we visited Berlin, the city of 4 zone powers, in the middle of the Soviet-influenced East. The border crossing in Helmstedt (standing tight, not laughing) showed us how free we live. It was like the transition from a color film to a black and white film. The houses were grey, huge areas, no beautiful landscape, the whole trip over the transit to Berlin. There the opposite, the bulwark of the West against the evil East. All trouble, much more than in East Friesland. Not much understood on the trip yet. During my studies I was often in Berlin, the anarchist and squatter scene was very active there and I had a lot of fun there. The transit was always a challenge, especially as a long-haired man with a colorful car. Hitchhiking was easier, you couldn't get thrown out on the way. From Kreuzberg also often crossed over to East Berlin. Gave another world, cheap food and was like a history journey. In Göttingen and especially on our farm the border was very close. From Bischhausen only 100 meters. I knew the GDR and e.g. the next neighbouring village (Bischhagen, behind a hill) less than Africa at the end of the eighties.
The fall of the wall came very surprisingly. I was allowed to experience it up close, because I lived at the border. The people from the village went to the fence at the announcement of the opening of the border or went there with tractor and excavator. The fence was torn down. But nobody has walked over yet, because there was the mined strip. The border roads of the VoPos were safe. We went to Bischhagen, 2 km away from Bischhausen, to the pub there and it was celebrated. Although I had regarded the GDR quite unemotionally, this reunification was a quite deep experience. World history was written here, unbelievable. Was not so conscious at the beginning. Only later. The first weeks were marked by reunification frenzy. As a member of the fire brigade, parking lots on the meadows were guarded, traffic (Trabis Trabis Trabis) regulated. After some weeks then a journey into the east resin. I still felt like I was in another country. Money was still unknown, the mood in the pubs very socialistically unfriendly. In the first nights I always heard the trucks that drove the slaughter animals (because of the high premiums in the west) to Göttingen (all illegal). The Russian military warehouses were plundered, there was much in vain, because it simply lay around and the owners had fled. Even my head had to get used to the fact that there was no border anymore. Although the way through Thuringia was 4 km shorter to Witzenhausen, I noticed and believed this only after 3 years. It was like abroad and the felt .distance differently like that really. Then more and more frequently in the east drove, gave exciting and beautiful landscapes. Otherwise it was a money grave, in Gleichen was spoken gladly about the Wieder-Trennung and donations for the wall building. The former GDR was very in need of restoration, the grey of the landscape had to get color first of all. It was irritating that not much has changed optically in the first 10 years. So much money had flowed into the East. Almost everything went into the ground or into speculation at first. But many friends started agriculture in the east, failed or had success. The first years were like the train to the east to the unknown and promising land of dreams.
Now, after 15 years of reunification, Germany is one and the East only one part of the country, only: with a better infrastructure (but higher unemployment: 20%).