It's 30 years after the german re-unification as we mind a bizarre plan: Since years we dreamed about a hiking trail along the former border between the two Germanys. What about to do that now? The complete borderline nowadays is a 1.400 kilometer long hiking way named „Grenzwanderweg“ or „Green Ribbon“ and it leeds hikers along the former Kolonnenweg, the path on which the east german border guards monitored the death zone or „Iron Curtain“ between the socialist world and the west. The is the first part of our adventure while we hike along the iron curtain.
Let's look for what remains on this path, what happens, when you go the long line, what the nature tells us from the past and what people are talking about the past, the present and the future.
The little village called Klein Chüden lays a few kilometers north of the small town Salzwedel and we have a problem right from the start: Where is this Green Ribbon? Where should we find the corner to start the hike the legendary Grenzwanderweg up to our goal, the shore of the Baltic Sea?
There is a dig, there is a street, there are the state line between Lower Saxony and Saxony Anhalt. And behind a small parking lot whit graveled ground the two columns of the Kolonnenweg. Wide enough for the track width of a truck, with holes in the concrete and a green grass stripe in the middle.
A bow in the border
It is one of the last warm summerdays in Germany, as we walk on the path into the Jarsauer Sack, a bow in the border witch was formed after the Second World War for comical reason. The regular borderline between the british and the russian zone had cut the fields from a farmer. So he invested a bunch of bottles of wodka to convince the russian surveyors to to redraw the line along his farmland.
Not that great for hikers because the way doubled for this reason. But is the nature here is impressive. Grass and cows, sheeps and bees, trees and fences to the horizon, a clear blue sky above us and a warm wind from the west. The way is easy to go, we're marching on with our backpacks – each of them weights 20 kilograms and we hum „The Weight“ of The Band: „Take a load off, Annie, take a load for free...“
It is really hart to carry a bag this weight over hours. You have to drink a lot – and we have to noticed, that we need more water to survive the rest of the day, the night and the next morning. This results in much more distance: The landscape around the Jarsauer Wodkasack is empty like the outback of Australia. No villages, no houses, no nothing. So we have to leave the Kolonnenweg for miles to go to the small village Schmarsau, the only place on the route where you can find frest water at the Biohofladen Düchting.
We're the pink elephants at the cute garden of the Biohofladen. What do you do? Where do you go? Why? The people asked us because of our giant backpacks. And they warn us: At the Planken and Schlettauer Post, the we we plan to set up our tent without permission at the evening, live four wolv packs. After this they calm us down. The wolves don't hurt anyone. They are afraid themselves of us.
Nice to hear. We walk another five kilometers back to the former borderline. And then we walk straight into the former death zone, the 150 meters wide cleared strip of grass between the two steel fences which should prevent attempts to escape from the GDR until 1990.
Now a peaceful place
It's a peaceful place now, without any trace of the brutal history. The sun sinks in the west, the meadow where people have died nearly 30 years long looks like every normal meadow in every normal wood. We set up our tent and we're looking into the long runway of forgotten brutality. No wolves around, only the wolves of remembrance.