GIESSEN – Anyone who has worked in Heidelberg and lives at the gates of Darmstadt can safely claim to know historically impressive and culturally valuable corners. The castle opposite the Königstuhl, the Kornmarkt, the Heiliggeistkirche, the old bridge or the German pharmacy museum impresses the people between the Palatinate Forest and the Odenwald. And Mathildenhöhe, the orangery, the wedding tower, the Russian chapel and the Art Nouveau swimming pool enchant southern Hesse. Branislav Ignjatovic, the new coach of the new second division basketball team Gießen 46ers, knows where to live. let’s live well!
So now the university town at Lahn, which was largely razed to the ground by the British Royal Air Force on the night of December 6, 1944? And who in the years after sometimes made himself noticed with construction errors? It requires a local who, on a bike ride, tries to show the Serbs, who have lived in Germany for almost three decades, the beautiful sides of the place where they can imagine spending more time. Successfully – as it should turn out just over four hours after the start of the office in Grünberger Straße, or rather in front of the ground floor car park at the Chinese restaurant in Miller Hall, the first of so many uninviting buildings that two will cycle past.
“I already know Gießen quite well.”
Branislav Ignjatovic, head coach Giessen 46ers
“I know Giessen pretty well in advance,” Ignjatovic says as he gets on the bike organized by office worker Jenny Blaha, which students usually use to hurry from A to B. The saddle fits, the handlebars hold, 30 degrees a day can come – also thanks to a bottle of water from the office. “Shall we go fast? I do not have a helmet with …” “Frenki”, as the 55-year-old is called in the scene, admits that he has not ridden a bicycle for a long time. The reporter can reassure him: “We drive calmly” and after a few minutes make the first stop at Schwanenteich, where the new Giessen hope begins to chat.
About the war in the former Yugoslavia, about Putin – but above all about “paradise Germany”, which he has been allowed to live in since 1992. “I suffer every day with the people of Ukraine. It hurts me that two sister nations fighting against each other, “says Frenki, who knows what he’s talking about. He came to Germany at a time when his Yugoslav homeland was severely shaken by several conflicts. “I can only say to everyone who is dissatisfied in Germany: Get on the plane, see how things are somewhere else, then you might appreciate life in Germany,” says the graduate from the tourism industry with his wife Gordana and his. son Djordje (26) to live in Ober-Ramstadt.
The secrets behind the central Hessian cuisine
Past the Technical University of Central Hesse, the prison where about 130 crooks are detained, and district and regional courts, he goes to the “Hawwerkasten”, where he dares to look at the menu. “Safe Pann? Hangelsteiner Pann?” Ignjatovic digs out his reading glasses from his belt bag, but they do not help to decipher the secrets behind Central Hessian cuisine. “The best will be when my wife and I eat here,” cult pub at The Old Castle is not the only place the basketball coach still has on his to-do list.
In “Klein & Fein” on Brandplatz, the 55-year-old caused a stir because he was wearing a jersey from his new club. “Who did you take with you?”, Boss Enzo Laurito wants to know. When he finds out that Branislav Ignjatovic is on a tour of Gießen, the cult innkeeper puts on his donating trousers. “Latte macchiato is on me …”
On the church square, the hopeful 46ers are impressed by Leib’sches Haus and Wallenfels’ches Haus, the two oldest buildings in the city, both of which date back to the 12th century. And in the uninviting Neustadt, cyclists encounter former Giessen professional Alen Pjanic (now EWE Baskets Oldenburg) and his friend Viktor Ziring, who was last active for Rackelos. “As always about your future? When does the preparation start? How do you stay in shape?” Ignjatovic is one who approaches others. Someone who inspires. Open, honest, empathetic. Would Pjanic and Ziring want to train under him? That’s her secret …
Test match against Hagen on short official channels
The coach does not hold back, already slightly sweating after only two or three kilometers, when he calls head coach Chris Harris over an apple spray in front of the boat house on Lahn Hagens. The two talk about players, exchange ideas about their strengths and weaknesses – and arrange a preparatory game at the end. “Are you coming to us, or are we coming to you?” asks Ignjatovic. “It would be best if I discussed this with our CEO Sebastian Schmidt.”
The sun beats relentlessly at mathematics, but “Frenki” insists on learning something about the history of the world’s first hands-on museum and about its founder Albrecht Beutelspacher. Ignjatovic is also located at the Liebig Museum, which is slightly hidden behind the former main customs office. And experience that the building dedicated to Justus Liebig was originally built as a barracks guard station, but was then expanded by the world-famous chemist. It shows the working conditions and tools of the time in the former Department of Chemistry, where Liebig lived and researched in his time as a professor at the University of Giessen from 1824 to 1852. “And you say that Giessen does not have much to offer?” The 46ers coach laughs in the direction of the reporter. “But since today, I see it with completely different eyes.”
“And you say that Gießen does not have much to offer? But I see it with completely different eyes from today.”
Branislav Ignjatovic, head coach Giessen 46ers
Which has often led him under the elephant toilet, without him ever realizing that the architectural blunder dating back to 1968 has long since achieved cult status as well as infamous. In his previous life, the man who led MLP Academics Heidelberg to the House of Lords a year ago was a drug disposer at pharmacies. And that’s why we’re sometimes out in Gießen. “I did not realize that the pedestrian bridge was called an elephant toilet because of its three large holes,” laughs Ignjatovic, crushed.
Via Löberstraße and Lonystraße with their magnificent old buildings, a stop at the university’s main building, which all about 28,000 Gießen students must have visited at some point, and a flying visit to the Old Cemetery, the trip goes back to Miller Hall, on the top floor, of which the Office for the 46s is housed. Of course, Ignjatovic did not know that the former Volkshalle was once used by American soldiers as a sports facility. “I heard that our gym in Rivers is not ideal. Why do not we use Miller Hall?”, The 55-year-old can hardly believe that there is now a Chinese restaurant in the large area. “Let’s go in, I can not believe it,” “Frenki” is surprised. And marvels at the fully preserved parquet floor on which the army once trained its men.
When Jenny Blaha takes over the bike again, Branislav Ignjatovic is groggy. “I think I need to do more sports again.” Above all, however, he will have to train his team in the coming months. Because “Frenki” is Giessen’s beacon of hope par excellence. If he moves around the city in the future, people will talk to him. He already got a small taste of the bike ride …