“I feel protected by the mountains”

Here to stay

“You have to work out Weißbach, this small social habitat, then you belong”, says the Dutch woman, getting to the point. And because she is a person who likes to muck in and get involved in the community, it wasn’t too hard for her. She met Anton, a postal worker, on holiday. The couple married in 1978 and moved to Barneveld in Holland, from where Hanny, a bank employee, came. Some may love the open expanse of the landscape, but in 1984 Anton needed to go back to his home in Weißbach. His wife and daughter moved with him – and until now they haven’t regretted it. Hanny Maltan, who passed her school-leavers’ certificate in German at 18-years old, quickly learned the locals’ dialect. “Because”, as she explains, “I can’t be Hanny if I don’t belong linguistically.”

And she made every effort to get involved in shaping the village. She became treasurer of the sports’ association even though she has little to do with sports; she became involved in the social committee of the village council and has organized the lectures of the Catholic education association for the last ten years. She turns out with the traditional costume association ladies in traditional costume for Harvest Festival and Corpus Christi processions. She also invites guests to welcome evenings and leads them through the Seisenbergklamm with torches. She explains the history of this strip of land and then checks their knowledge later with quiz questions and small prizes.

You can already tell that this woman really is at the heart of this village but she hasn’t had it all easy. Her son Thomas was born with a rare disability, the “Smith-Magenis Syndrome”. A self-help group looks after the concerns of those affected, especially Hanny Maltan. Her main job is in the retirement home in Lofer. Saying “farewell” to loved ones is very difficult for her. The death of her parents, so far away from her, was particularly painful. And of course she would love to drop in for a quick coffee with her siblings and friends in Holland but they come to visit once a year. When they then return to the North Sea she becomes a little homesick and has to cry. “But in my heart I am a Weißbacher”, says the mother of three and grandmother of three and you can really believe her.

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