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Swedes flock to change name for new Berlin life
The winning contestant will get the keys to a flat in Berlin's trendy Neukölln district. Photo: airbnb

Swedes flock to change name for new Berlin life

Alex Evans · 1 Nov 2013, 16:55

Published: 01 Nov 2013 16:55 GMT+01:00

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The draw of a new life in the German capital has inspired dozens of Swedes to change their name - more than organisers expected.

The plan was to find just one person who loved the idea of moving to Berlin enough to change their name to the odd, gender-mixed German Klaus-Heidi- but 38 Swedes have so far legally changed their name to enter the running.

The contest was set to last from October 11th until November 28th, but the airline has closed it almost a month early due to the flood of Klaus-Heidis getting in touch to claim their new lives.

Magnus Engvall, senior marketing specialist at Lufthansa, told Swedish newspaper Dagens Media "we never even imagined that so many people would actually change their names." "The campaign has spread even beyond the nation's borders," he added.

The winner, who will now be picked by a jury based on their justification for the move rather than just their willingness to have a weird name, will get an apartment in Berlin, paid for a year, as well as free language classes, a bike and airfare within Germany.

One of the first entrants, 46-year-old John Eje Thelin, spoke to The Local about his decision to become Klaus-Heidi John Eje Thelin.

"I’ve been wanting to move to Berlin for quite a while," he said. "My wife and I have been planning it. The last time I left Berlin, I felt like I was leaving a lover. A lot of the people who have been blogging about it have said things like ‘Oh, I’ll give it a shot, and if it doesn't work I’ll go to India. But for me it's just Berlin."

His wife, Debbie, said she would be with him every step of the way, and - whether or not he wins - the couple still plans on relocating to Berlin.

"He is Charlie from Willy Wonka," Debbie told The Local. "Everyone else is in this for a lark, because they think it’d be fun. But he wants this. This is truly his golden ticket. It’s not just getting out of Sweden, this is, 'I really do want to change my life. I want my new life in Berlin.' And I'm all over it," she explained.

Thelin found out about the contest from a friend on the morning of the day it opened, and had already put his name-change paperwork in the post that afternoon- one of nine Swedes who made their legal name-change on the first possible day.

He suspects it will be one of these elite entrants whom Lufthansa names the Klaus-Heidi.

And if Thelin doesn't win?                                                                                   

Story continues below…

"My name is Klaus-Heidi, and whatever happens, Berlin is still my town," he said.

Solveig Rundquist


READ MORE: Airline offers new life - if you change your name

Alex Evans (news@thelocal.de)

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