The last fishermen of the imperial baths

Seebad Ahlbeck. 6 o'clock in the morning. The wind carries a soft chug of an engine across the water. The closer it gets, the louder the screeching of the seagulls gets. They circle the boat in swarms to fight over the fish bites.

The flat wooden cutters, which have their anchorage against the backdrop of the Ahlbeck pier, almost make it to the water's edge. With strength and yelling, tractors pull the boats backwards onto the soft sand. They have been part of the familiar image of the imperial spas for many generations, although a main occupation has become a traditional business. There used to be countless boats waiting every morning for the hard-working fishermen to take them out to haul in the nets with the little red flags. The bellies of the sand cutters were once filled to the brim with the silver of the Baltic Sea: the herring.



While there were still 1932 professional fishermen in Pomerania in 7.305, today there are only 270 along the Baltic Sea coast from Flensburg to Ahlbeck. Shortly before reunification, 65 fishermen were still fishing in the imperial baths on the Baltic Sea, today you can count the local professional fishermen on two fingers. Overfishing, catch quotas and fish imports ultimately led to the containment of the profession.

But these fishermen can still be seen today, dressed in oilskins, troyers and caps, pulling the sparkling herrings out of the nets and selling the freshly caught fish directly from the cutter. You can listen to their stories and the hope of maintaining their traditional profession for as long as possible.


Our fishermen


Even the name of the place - Heringsdorf - goes back to the tradition of fishing: In the official gazette of the royal government in Stettin of July 31, 1820, the place name was officially mentioned for the first time. But even before that, the colony's fishermen caught the herring that swarmed past the island. As a result, head forester Georg Bernhard von Bülow, the founding father of the community, set up a herring packing plant. This wanted 1820 by King Friedrich Wilhelm III. be visited. However, the founding of a new town had to be registered with a proposal for a name settlement. Based on this omission, a solution had to be found quickly. So it was a good thing that Princes Wilhelm and Carl traveled to the new colony the day before their father. They are said to have given the town the name “Heringsdorff”, as von Bülow writes in the advertisement for the place name application. It's a good thing that the name plaque was set up the following day when the king visited Heringsdorf. How did von Bülow manage to do it so quickly?


Fishing is not only essential for the region and its locals, but also for the destination and its guests. Or would you want to do without the typically delicious fish sandwich? The traditional way of fishing with nets and little flags could not be more sustainable. In relation to industrial fishing, it is the regional procurement, the low catch numbers and responsible fishing that make up the traditional fishing in the Baltic Sea. But today many fishing boats have disappeared from the beach of the imperial baths. A large piece of tradition has already gone under.


The fishing profession will soon disappear like a cutter on the horizon. The failure is by no means due to the love of the sea or the hard work, but rather to aging, a lack of young people and restrictions. Tradition is in crisis, and has been for a long time. With ever lower catch quotas, the traditional fishermen's guild is now more than threatened, ultimately it is on the verge of extinction. And with it a piece of history that once founded the imperial baths as such.