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Lechtal Tourismus - Christoph Moosbrugger

Simone Knitel

When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, Simone was neither standing on the Wall nor shouting freedom slogans with the crowd. On that historic night, November 9, 1989, Simone was on night duty at the hospital, caring for patients and hearing about the fall of the Wall on the radio.

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"That the end of the GDR was looming was clear. Then, when I heard that one, hesitant sentence from then SED official Günter Schabowski that travel to foreign countries in the West was 'allowed immediately & without delay,' the fate of the GDR was sealed." Simone recounts this experience as if it were only yesterday. Even today, some 33 years later, she is still moved by the fall of the Wall and everything that followed. Today, dull documentaries and factual history books report on the end of the GDR. But what that meant for every citizen of the German Democratic Republic can only be guessed at.

Simone Knitel_Lechtal natural handicraft

Simone was born in the GDR in 1970. She grew up there, went to school there and was shaped by a socialist system. "Suddenly, somehow, there was no longer a country I came from. This GDR no longer existed - and everything we had been taught over the years in terms of values and philosophy was suddenly called into question as well. Certainly, not everything was bliss, and socialism was uncompromising. We were restricted in many ways, were not allowed to travel to the West and often had to make a virtue out of necessity. Nevertheless, I just wanted to travel, but I didn't want to lose my country forever. - Simone describes how she felt emotionally at the time. Despite all the melancholy she felt, she also saw a great adventure in the reunification and booked a bus trip to the Lech Valley with her 100 DM welcome money without further ado.

Life in the Lech Valley - Simone Knitel

"I happened to see an ad in a daily newspaper from what was then the AlpTirol travel agency, and in June 1990 I was on the bus to Holzgau with my best friend. We knew that the trip was to Tyrol. But we didn't know where Holzgau was. In our youthful recklessness, we actually just wanted to see those dashing Tyroleans in lederhosen who were always described in the (actually censored) Heimat and Liebesromanen. When we finally arrived after what felt like an eternity and got off the bus, I immediately fell in love with the mountains and flower meadows. I had never seen anything like it before," Simone enthuses with her still slightly audible Saxon accent. "In the pouring rain, I then joined a 5-hour flower and herb hike. I was so impressed by this nature, the variety of flowers and the mountains, that I didn't mind the rain."- she continues. After the vacation in Holzgau was over again and the bus drove back toward Berlin, Simone did not hold out much longer. She had fallen too much in love with the Lech Valley.

The job as a nurse and the apartment in the prefabricated building were summarily terminated and Simone started anew in Holzgau. "I accepted the job offer that had been made to me during my vacation a few weeks earlier. I then waited tables for a while and after a few months I was able to return to my old job as a nurse. In the spring of 1991, I took over the management of the district nursing home in Reutte. - Simone remembers.

Life in the Lech Valley - Simone Knitel

With the birth of her children, however, Simone then withdrew professionally and helped in the pension of the then in-laws. It was during this time that her passion for herbs and medicinal plants finally took hold of her and she devoured non-fiction books and encyclopedias. As a result, she also trained as a herbal educator, a mountain hiking guide, and a nature park guide. "I was already very inquisitive and curious at that time. I was always driven by the interest in herbs and medicinal plants and their processing. I wanted to know everything and even today I always enjoy reading the relevant specialist literature."

Since 2010, the nature park ranger and certified herb farmer has also been running her very own small store together with her friend Sigrid Juchtmans, called "Lechtaler Naturhandwerk"(www.lechtaler-naturhandwerk.com), which is now located in Bach. The colorful and mostly regional assortment includes, among other things, lovingly made jewelry, Lechtal herbal products, handmade decorative items made of wood and even books and gift items for every occasion and age. The small store on the corner, directly in the village center of Bach, is a real eye-catcher and radiates a cozy and above all warm ambience. In short: There is a lot of heart and soul in it.

When you talk to Simone, you quickly realize that she is driven but still not restless. Her thirst for knowledge and the joy of her work, which is also her hobby, constantly drive her to new ideas and projects. Simone gets her inspiration in the mountains, at the Lech and, how could it be otherwise, while collecting herbs. "I love being out and about in unique nature and passing on my knowledge to locals and guests. I draw strength and energy from nature - that's where the best ideas come to me. But above all, my family and my circle of friends, consisting of locals and many so-called "Zuagroasten" are my anchor." she tells proudly. Simone is a frugal and content person. Nature, the Lech Valley, her job and the people in her life make her happy. "Others drive expensive cars or fly halfway around the world. I myself am pragmatic and don't need the Maldives - the Schigge, high above Holzgau, is enough for me. That's where I like to be, sitting in the sun, collecting herbs and just breathing in and out deeply."

Summer in Lech Valley landscapes and nature emperor cloak butterfly

If you ask Simone about her view of tourism in the Lech Valley, she answers without hesitation that above all the unique landscape and life in the nature park (www.naturpark-tiroler-lech.at) are the forward-looking aspects. Nevertheless, one must also go with the times in the valley and create contemporary vacation incentives. In their opinion, it is above all a challenge to maintain the balance between modern and yet nature-oriented tourism. In any case, the Lech Valley must remain first and foremost a recreational area far away from mass tourism. "There are many excellent ideas and projects that have already been implemented, but they can only continue to be pushed and pursued in the future if we all pull together and leave envy or even resentment out of it. According to Simone, the quintessence of the future of the Lech Valley as a vacation region is to work together in tourism and to share the conviction that we need to appreciate nature even more and, moreover, to preserve it.

Like many others, Simone has chosen to live in the Lech Valley. She came to this valley over thirty years ago with a suitcase full of expectations, dreams and curiosity. Without a doubt, Simone has experienced a lot, she has made the best of every situation in life and has never let it get her down. Today, the mother of three is still in the midst of life and she leaves her very own mark, full of vital energy and enthusiasm, here with us in the Lech Valley.

Anja Ginther

von Anja Ginther

May 03, 2023

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