It's 30 years after the german re-unification as we mind a bizarre plan: We're trekking along the Iron Curtain, the former deadly borderline between the East and the West of Germany! There is a hiking way named „Grenzwanderweg“ or „Green Ribbon“. You can hike here along the path on which the east german border guards monitored the „Iron Curtain“ between the socialist world and the west.
Welcome to number 10:
The next day we have to start another hike. Miles and miles to go again before we can sleep! But the sun is shining and we find a small coffee house right at the dam of the river Elbe with a sweet breakfast. The cyclists are back in hordes and the tables are full. "The days when everyone wanted to leave are over", says Petra, the host and a fantastic baker.
The price of reunification
Those who come back are still young, they buy the old farms and modernize them. "There is enough work, but normally you have to drive over to the west," says Petra. There you earn twice as much as in Schwerin, the next largest city in the east. "So much for the german reunification," laughs Petra.
But the houses along the way tell of wealth and enough money to cover roofs, build solar systems and fill two garages. The nature here looks like a single front garden, the birds are chirping and the farmers are offering apples, honey and potatoes on the garden fence.
In a godforsaken area
Since the godforsaken area between Brandenburg, Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg was discovered by tourists, it perhaps experience its greatest heyday. No more thought of the bad years when the world powers played poker at a bar table about who should be prisoned into the eastern zone and who was allowed to live in freedom.
We walk the Kolonnenweg under our heavy weight in the backpacks and Henry, a guy who looks over his own fence in Popelau, a small village at the riverside, tells us another part of the bitter story.
It happened in 1945 when they east and the west find a deal: The entire area, former belonged to the Lüneburg district at the westens side of the Elbe til the end of the Second World War, was easily given as a present to the russians an transformed into part of the state of Mecklenburg. It was made only for practical reasons - no bridge over the Elbe and correspondingly expected supply difficulties.
The betrayed people
But the people who lived here were held as prisoners for years. Who wasn't try to escape in the first 24 hours after the decicion was handed over to the Soviet zone of occupation in July 1945 was compulsorily transformed into a citizen of the socialist GDR until 1989.
No way out. So beautiful the nature, so cruel the fate. If the farmers gone to their cows a soldier sat in the back seat with a gun, says Henry. If the army had a maneuver there were no guards in charge. Nobody was allowed to go to the animals. And the cows screamed because they couldn't be milked, Henry tells and he points to the cows that are now peacefully on the pasture.
It was a painful deal, forgotten today. No one knows while he rides along the dam on his bycicle and enjoy the fresh wind, the blue sky and the green nature. Only after 40 years local council elections were held in the eight old independent communities on the east side.
And after the peoples vote the old Neuhaus district was reorganized as a part of western Germany. They are all were determined to move back to Lower Saxony. „But it isn't easy“, Petra said, „because we're not right here and not there now“.
The Iron Curtain, in our times an unvisible wall between friends, familys and class mates, has left deep traces not in the landscape but in minds.
A few more pictures for you: