Who I am
My name is Uwe Maennicke and I'm
63 years old. I've been sitting in the wheel-chair for over 30 years. The heavy
paralyzation required an occupation to improve the residual functions ...
and to have fun! From former days, there was the occupation with model railways
of the scale 1 : 120. From this time, there remained only some special exhibition
models in a vitrine, the major part of the collection has got the nephew
now who is fool for model railway too. Unfortunately, this collection has
been stolen short time ago )-: .
Beside the model railway, the occupation
with computers becomes important. The planning of the garden railway isn't
the only task for that device; one fine day, it shall control the engines
on the tracks or the work updating this web site, but time is tight for a pensioner....
Additional to that, I'm interested
in working with pictures on the computer and in web-design. Together with
the knowledge of the english and french language I realize projects in the
Internet together with other friends. If there is anywhere a problem on
a computer of a friend I'm naturally a sought contact partner too.
Despite of the heavy paralyzation,
there remains a residual movability. I use it for the engagement for disabled
people who hadn't so much "luck" as I. Everybody who is interested on this
fact can contact the Club for
Handicapped People and Their Friends in Bitterfeld.
Here are some important stages of
my life (dates as mm/dd/yy):
- 1958 born as a child of a
worker's family. At that time I had much luck: Wolfen was a central part
of the chemical industry of middle Germany and the air pollution made many
children sick - I stayed well and healthy. Chemics was a theme in our family
too: Father was a laboratory technician.
- The next 18 years were
quite normal. Only one event has to be mentioned: Christmas 1969. As one
of the gifts beneath the christmas tree I got a starter set of TT (a scale
of 1/120 being only available in Eastern Germany). At that time I got sick
with the illness Modellitis Railwaylitis.
- 08/22/1976 - During
a training camp of our former local swimming club I had a very heavy accident
and suffered a complete tetraplegy over all four extremities in the cerebral
zone of C5/C6 with the sensibilisation limit sub C7. For my family, a hard
and long struggle for my physical and material future began. The grotesque
consequences of that struggle appeared for instance in the fact that the
army (on their area the accident happened) denied for more than half a year
any information about this accident, on the contrary, they hold the "official"
opinion that there wouldn't had been any accident at all...! Some authorities
of the official insurance company told to my mother: "Maybe, the problem
even solves itself...."
- 1977 - 80 - a tenacious
struggle to survive physically. The doctors gave me not more than 3 years
of living. Despite of that, I could recover my school-leaving examinations
with "magna cum laude" by having lessons at home with the outstanding unique
help of my former teachers. Along with it, I took several examinations
to get special language certificates (English) forming a professional basis
for the next years. In addition to that I began again with physical training.
At first just only rolling with the wheel-chair then athletics (track and
field disciplins with participation at competitions) and later swimming
and diving. By rolling just only for maintaining the physical fitness I
make weekly ca. 35 miles during the warm period of the year keeping me rounding
the earth since 1983 at least for one time. Another consequence of these
activities: Since the middle of the eighties I can do completely without
any medicine - especially the psychopharmacological drugs with their heavy
- In the early eighties,
I got the contact to a group of pysically handicapped people at the former
Evangelical City Mission of Bitterfeld - our club
of today. The engagement in an ecclesiastical institution should lead at
a later point of time to problems in the relations with official authorities.
To me it was one of a few possibilities to get out of my four walls (I got
the driving licence just in 1986). The meetings with other handicapped people
having the same problems as I provided for a new motivation again to overcome
my difficulties. With other people together, I had the first contact with
a computer - the C64 by Commodore - in those days. We tried everything
- datasette, C64 with the first disk drive, loading games without turbo
loader (it took app. 20 min!!!), with turbo loader software (it didn't take
so long). The former G.D.R. didn't offer any opportunities to get acquainted
with this new technology. Only by private contacts, I had the possibility
to use the KC 85/2 (some kind of ZX81 by Sinclair) or the PC 1715 (a 8-bit-PC
- unbelievable but real!). But my profession as a scientific translator
at ORWO (a factory producing films) of that time even required for such
a kind of technique.
- But the political situation
at the end of the eighties didn't allow any of such perspectives. As a
physical handicapped person, I didn't fit in this perfect image of a socialist
human being of a "new type". The political repression of the "Stasi" ('Ministerium
für Staatssicherheit' - Ministery of State Safety - but in reality,
it was a secret service heading its activities against the own population)
became more and more apparent in public life - you could see it for instance
one day when near our dominicile - Lutherhaus - a window of a old wooden
barrack being unused for years was suddenly be cleaned, and you could notice
the objective of a camera.... Although we didn't perform any "subversive"
activities, we were treated like other "dissidents" as "Antragsteller" (petitioner
- but I guess that wouldn't be the right meaning of the word as you know;
these persons tried to emigrate on a legal way) or people who want to protect
the environment as public enemies. The margin for our official activities
was more and more narrowed. If you wanted to clarify architectural problems
or something like that with official authorities of the city, we weren't be
allowed to carry it out in our "Lutherhaus" (->ecclesiastical institution)
eventhough there wasn't any other building in the former Bitterfeld being
accessible for us as wheel-chair drivers!
- 01/05/1990 - Purchase
of the first own computer - it was a C128 by Commodore. In the meantime,
the Berlin Wall fell down on 11/09/1989, the state "G.D.R." took its last
breathes. I changed some money for exorbitant rates and was finally able
to buy a simple home computer in the well-known INTERSHOP (it was a chain
of little shops where you could buy things of daily life and electronics for
"hard" - convertible - money). Someday I received the corresponding software
- WordStar 3.3, SuperCalc 1.2 and dBase 2.41. The relating "official" bootleg
software by ROBOTRON (the computer manufacturer of the former G.D.R.) - Textprozessor,
MultiPlan and Redabas - permitted a data exchange on 5.25"-disks without
any problems (very strange?!?). This turbulent days brought very much work
for us as translators - suddenly, everything seem to be possible. At that
point of time, I got my first online contact (some economical data base
in London). The biggest problem to perform this was to get a telephone line
without any distortions to Leipzig (20 miles away) - the entering node. The
telephone exchange originated from the year 1928!
But only some time later you
could see the other side of the medal of this development: the old factories
were to expensive with their costs and closed down. In 1991, I became unemployed
- Till august 1993, I
still occasionally worked as a free-lance translator. In the meantime, I
changed my C128 (it is still working today!!!) with a 386 of Peacock. For
the first time, it was a fantastic working but there wasn't any work left.
An authoritive of my trade operative association made the offer of a vocational
training as a qualified data processing merchant (terrible term!) in a big
near Regensburg/Bavaria to me. I agreed and learnt for 2 years all about
C, COBOL, book-keeping, management work etc. In this period, I got my first
acquaintance with garden layouts - L.G.B. in Nuremberg/Germany was only an
hour with the car away. The illness Modellitis Railwaylitis became apparent
again. I promised to myself, if I would pass the final examinations of my
vocational training, I'll create a garden layout. You guess how the results
of my examinations were...
- To the hobby model
railway, the hobbies Computer/Internet (my first homepage in 1997) and
diving with comprimed air for disabled people are added. Some members of
the swimming club of Bitterfeld provided for the first contact with this
special equipment and the regular activities under water stabilized my
physical situation. Some doctors got very curious about that and we have
the justified hope that these activities will become a normal medical therapy
- Year 2000 - a new machine
(and this time a machine with all I ever wanted - assembled and configurated
by myself) offers new possibilities: video editing on the computer. It's
a Pentium III engine with 256 MB SD-RAM, approx. 40 GB hard drive space
on SCSI, DVD and CD-ROM (with writing abilities), ISDN card and first of
all: a video card AV MASTER 2000 for digitalizing and editing of videos
of my own. First projects had been realized - i.e. a video about the fourth
Live Steam Meeting in Sinsheim/Germany in january 2000 which can be purchased
directly from me. In association with a handycam by SONY results can be achieved
that satisfy professional standards. The most impressive fact to me was the
display quality on my own TV-set. Additional clips will follow. I have ideas
in my mind about landscape views with my favourite music or garden railway
of other railway fans being available as videoclip via internet or a training
video or CD-ROM about all what can be made wrong in learning swimming and
- In the meantime many
interested people came to visit my layout, the Tausis family from North
Sweden and the the Peters family from U.S.A. had the longest way to arrive.
Keeping the domaine www.bahnrolli.de registered was just a logical consequence
- meanwhile "bahnrolli" was not only in the internet my nickname. Using
my popularity due to tv broadcast I aided in the organization of garden
railway meetings in our region or I organized them by myself. Here in Bitterfeld/Germany,
we had a beautiful opportunity to do that (the public swimming pool "IG-Bad"
- former known as "CKB-Bad") which had a well preserved park inviting to
take a bath until 2000. Here we organized 2 meetings of garden railways
and model ships which arouse full enthusiasm supraregionally by the fans.
Despite of this we didn't get the people/politicians - I separate this consciously!!!!
- interested for this unique architectural heritage (the park with a beautiful
villa was laid out in the middle of the 19th century and will
become now to a big lake because of ground water problems). The ignorance
and inacvtivity, respectively, of local politicians make now here in Bitterfeld
the last public outdoor swimming pool disappear... what a pity )-:
Consequently, we made our meeting in Bad Düben/Germany hoping that this
will become to a tradition in this region here. Unfortunately, the other partner of this meeting died in 2004 as a consequence of a traffic accident. So we had to change our location once more and the old location died - what a shame!
State in the year 1999
State of late 2004
Photo: Mr. Henning Triebel
- In 2001, I was very
much on the way. I showed an american visitor Cap Arkona, Rostock, the isle
of Rügen, Berlin (at night), Leipzig, Halle/Saale, Naumburg, Weimar/concentration
camp Buchenwald, the complete countryside park "Dübener Heide" (once
again for remembering - this were totally about 1,500 miles!!!), saw how
to cook of Tiramisù almost in a dog's dish, barbecued with others
on a roof garden or I filmed a concert of an active rock-band - I kept the
aquaintance to people who don't involve in model railways. The diver's brevet became reality and I proved it in
the Red Sea late november 2001. The increased interest in handicap diving
came into evidence: on 06/30/2001 a tv feature was broadcasted with me as
a docile pupil. My rehabilitation institution also shows interest for these
experiments, so stay tuned...
- Work - except of some
computer courses in evening adult classes and some translations via Internet
- there wasn't anything special. My abilities in handling of pictures
and videos revoked some interest - which can be seen at the many clicks of
my homepage - a short evaluation of the statistics confirms that fact. Concrete
projects are in my mind that's why I can say that I don't need to work.
But if I take a look on the working world of today and see the tendency to squeeze out the last quint of working energy I'm lucky about escaping from this tretmhle. Beside of that I wouldn't have enough spare time to deal with all the hobbies. Don't be wrong I'm not lazy because editing videos is a hard work to do or as I want say it is the working through of a long tunnel where you can see the light at end often longing 16 hours or more per day.
- This pressure is in opposite to the pressure of intolerant bosses voluntary and that's why I'm not burned out after the work is done. Simply at first only a hobby it developed to a fulltime job. It isn't only the processing of images - taken by my own or by partners - but it is the involving of own ideas in comment too what wasn't easy at the beginning. Increasing self confidence as well as the easy speaking after a glass of red wine were good tools - not only in the film. This employment allows me to create ideas where words are not enough - a picture tells more than 1000 words - and it is interesting to see that other people share the same ideas. Therefore, it is evident that these abilities are wanted by others.
- Numerous video gigs in relation of organizing of meetings of garden railroad and model fans brought me to my tight physical limits at the end of the decade. 3 broken rips and lung restrictions required some critical decisions being important to be made. But there are many clips on YouTube and VIMEO, respectively, being presented on the broadcast named "Bahnkaleidoskop" on the TV station "LeipzigFernsehen" or "SachsenFernsehen", respectively. Despote of the fact that the german broadcast "Verrückt nach Eisenbahn - Modellbauer in ihrem Königreich" was recorded in 1998 the next generation of interested model railroad fans discover this old hobby.
- Therefore, this combination of wheel chair driver and garden railloading leads me sticking out like a sore thumb in european scale. Evidently, highlights of this kind are muultiple participations at the Leipzig fair "Hobby - Modell - Spiel" with more than 100,000 spectators on every event. However(!), the garden layout at home deegraded more and more after more than 20 years. The own locos and cars are running more on foreign than on own tracks. Thus, something has to happen to tackle this problem. The result of 5 months of preparation an 4 months of hard work can be seen here. Some more problems have to be solved but the following points remain important to me:
1. Despite of the fact that I'm very under pressure in the case of a film production or exhibitions I do not know if I would stand the same stress of a clerk job. If my knowledge is wanted by some firm and I should return to worklife again,
it has to be just for fun. I wouldn't accept an intolerant boss or envious
colleagues. Sure, this point of view you can afford.
2. Although I am fascinated in dealing with theses special “counting machines“ I'm aware of the fact that this machines are working devices, in other words, I still find the “power off“ button and I play with other things.... (-;
3. If there no accident would had been happened in 1976 and I would kept without any handicap, I'm not sure that my life would be so abwechslungsreich as it is or if I would only be a boring or even unemployed engineer or family man.
4. If there are still any doubts up to now, then it must be stated again at this point - life is life-threatening even in its normal form - you can no longer get out alive. The more I try to learn this in order to get smarter, the more I feel like old Socrates, who stated: I know that I don't know anything ...
5. If someone cannot imagine how I clear snow in a wheelchair or drive a garden train locomotive, that is not my problem. The nice thing about this country is that I don't have to follow the limited horizons of others.
If you interested in getting more
information about model railway or problemes of handicapped people (or other
themes), you can contact me by
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