Where is your Home?

Through technology, I have been able to connect with more and more people who have or make their home in different parts of the world.

Being passionate about teaching global awareness to my students, comes partly from the fact that I grew up with different perspectives of what is “home”. I have the heritage on my shoulders of  parents, grandparents and great-grandparents being displaced against their will from their “homes” and making new lives in a different land. Nowadays my family is choosing to live in different countries than our birth country.

I ran across the following post on Travel Bliss “Where is your home” Erica Johansson starts out by writing:

A home can have several meanings, depending on who you ask.

She includes several quotes about what home means to others. The last one is a dialogue from the movie “Pulp Fiction”, which she interprets

… about walking the earth, he secretly wishes he will eventually find a place to call home – his real home, where he is meant to live. Or, he is merely content with traveling from place to place and might come to see the journey as his home.

My grandmother, Ruth Herzog, wrote down her thoughts almost 30 years ago about where and what home means to her and the difference to “Home” and “Heimat”. She was an amazing writer. Some of her eloquence does get lost in translation from German to English. I do hope it does her justice though.


In the German language there are two words “Zuhause” and “Heimat”, both translated into English with the word “home”. They are nevertheless two distinct terms. I will use the word home and the German word “Heimat” to make that distinction.

Observation about Family, Home and Heimat by Ruth Herzog (1980)

Today everything is different than before. Some things are better, some things are worse. This can be debated. Also the word “home” is different than before ! Home means for me, still today, family and “Heimat”. Home still today includes the old fashioned word Heimat .

Old fashioned, because many cannot imagine or associate anything with it. You don’t need the notion of a “Heimat” many think here and there. The home and the “Heimat” is there wherever your family lives. That is enough. With that, one does not understand the real meaning of the word “Heimat”. The core of the word, mind you.

In the past, the “Heimat” was the localized bases of the family seat, a foundation with many corresponding details.
There was for example a particular ancient Linden tree, the with unevenly constructed stones horse stable, the tick alder bushes along the shore of the lake, the skinny birches at the pond, the shady path under the Hazelnut trees, an old with berries overgrown ruins, lime-tree blossoms, the rush of the water from the Watergate, the noises from the sleds in the winter and many more things!
Particular, unmistakable characteristics, noises, smells, views and feelings. Everything was bound to the land, the surroundings of the house of the family. There, we children grew up as trees, rooted to these unique surroundings. Later, as we were scattered across far away countries and cities, the word “Heimat” stayed in our souls, utterly relentless and never to be extinguished.

When I think of the word “home”, I think first of “Heimat”. The “Heimat” was my home. It included the family. The “Heimat” is so strong that it always will pull me back, no matter where I am.

Why do still so many people return to the “Heimat”? What is it that even with the current neglect of the polish administered East areas, we still feel pulled back? Why can the Polish, with the smallest amount of touristy offerings, still make big business?

Maybe the”Heimat” is still in our souls? Maybe the feeling of “Heimat” is so deeply rooted in us, that we cannot dissolve it for as long as we live? Maybe it is because of that our little family could not find a real foundation anymore. It seems that the little rented apartment at the edge of town cannot be that foundation for us and cannot replace the”Heimat”. Otherwise we could not move from one apartment into the next or move to other cities so easily.

The little family of today has to be very strong in order to do without and greater foundation and the peculiarities of a “Heimat”. Its bond has to be extra durable to give each member ground. The “Heimat” from before has to lie in each of us now. It is our only chance that our little family has.