In his childhood (around 1945) Volker Kraft saw a beautiful paschal decorated tree in his home town. So he wanted a tree like this.
[These trees are called "Eierbaum", "Osterbaum" or "Ostereierbaum" in German, meaning a tree that is decorated with eggs at Easter.]
...and then, in 1965, it happened. Volker Kraft was happily married and had children by now. And so he realized his dream of having his own Eierbaum. He decorated a small apple tree in his graden with 18 colorful Easter eggs for his children - and he was happy to see the same sparkling in their eyes as he had twenty years ago.
The first 18 Easter eggs were still made of plastic. But soon, Volker realized that the tree begun to grow - fast.
So he needed more eggs! To buy all of them was to expensive at that time. So they blow almost all eggs needed in the kitchen to bake cakes. These eggs were then equipped with a small listel and painted with all household colors available.
Kraft's children grew and started to paint, too. First simple patterns and multi-colored eggs emerged. These eggs can still be found on the tree nowadays, though time apparently aged them.
Over the years the tree was growing the number of eggs was increased.
The children of Volker and Christa Kraft finally went out of the house, and so the sapling, which became a real tree by now, could rest and recover.
But then the first grandchilden came and the Eierbaum was decorated again.
It was enormous , and every year people came from the neighborhood to watch it.
Now family Kraft began counting the easter eggs. The listel has been revised so that the eggs wont fall as fast as they did before, if it is windy.
Christa Kraft started to crochet eggs in different colors and patterns. Far more than 1000 eggs have been crochet by now (2008). 300 of them with pearls.
Kraft's daughter Gabriela Rumrich is the painter in the family, she drew artistic patterns with silver and gold colors. Later the first landscape and city motifs emerged. For the trunk of the three she painted ladybugs and cockchafer, made from blown-out eggs. Later, other animals such as mice, fish, turtles, pigs and frogs completed the series.
Christa Kraft put crocus bulbs in all colors in the hill next to the Eierbaum. So now every year in March far more than 1200 crocuses are in flower. Volker Kraft discovered his love to spray bottles, which were now avaiable after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Christa Kraft developed increasingly in becoming an artist. She glued some eggs artfully with sugar figures and pearls. Since this year (2009), she got an even more decorative idea: she drills patterns with a small drill in the eggs. In addition, she collected the slides of their grandchildren surprise eggs and wrappend them on real blown eggs. There are around 400 of those "empty" surprise eggs now - but those are not counted to the total number of eggs our Eierbaum is supposed to bear, because we have another tree for them.
To decorate the Eierbaum initially took only one day. As the number of eggs increased, the time needed to decorate increased, too. In 2002 we decorated the tree with two to five persons in a week. It does not take as long to "clear" the tree again.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, a rehab clinic was built in the near, and with it first "foreign" visitors came. They never saw something like this and one of them reported it to the local press.
In this moment, out quiet garden idyll was gone. TV, Radio, newspapers. There were loads of people visiting us.
Year after year, the interest of the press, radio and television increased and the pictures and film contributions went far beyond Germany. We had visitors from all over Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Holland, England, China and the United States - only to name a few. Sometimes whole choaches drove up.
In 2008 we ware amazed. the Dutch presenter Marijke Amado came with a film crew to visit us.
Every now and then, strangers send newspapers to us, newspapers about the tree from their country or region. These originate from Holland, Africa, Thailand, Australia and Kuwait!
People in Saalfeld call Volker Kraft lovly "egg man".
Many questions about the Eierbaum repeat year after year. Most of them, with many interesting stories and pictures, can be purchased since 2005 in form of a small book.
Volker probably never thought that his dream was going to what it is today. But it makes him and is family proud that so many people visit the Eierbaum year after year.
The decoration of the tree is mandatory nowadays! But most of the poeple can imagine what kind of work is needed to make the tree looking like it is. The best reward for all the work are the smiles of the children that remember Volker Kraft of his own childhood.
...if you are interested, then just come to Saalfeld around Easter.
We start decorating the tree around four weeks before Easter and clear it a week after Easter. It takes about two weeks to fully decorate it.
There are no opening hours and admission is free. Usually, someone of us will be there starting from twelve o'clock. Just phone us if you are coming in groups or from far away so we can make sure that someone will be there. If you don't, our garden may be be closed and you can only watch it from outside. To Easter, the Eierbaum can be visited starting nine o'clock the whole day.
Attention! There is no parking on the site. There is only a small private track leading to us. Please use the public parking at the outdoor bath or in the city.
We hope you enjoy and look forward to your visit!