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.
The first episode of our hike you can read here.
Here we go with the third one:
The next border we have to cross is the river Elbe, the one great divide between the west and the east on our tour. There is no bridge nearby, but a ferry connection between Schnackenburg and Lütkenwisch since the beginning of the 17th century. In 1945 the Russians stopped ferry traffic forcibly – no more way to the other side to get there because the inner-German border ran middle in the river, today a blue stream of water under a bright sun between green shores.
Spurred on by the successful readmission of neighboring ferry connections after the fall of the Wall, the Schnackenburger Klaus Reineke 1991 deep into the Bag and bought a ferry in Holland. Since September 7, 1991, the ferry „Ilka“ binds what belongs together. It tooked Reinecke all his power at the beginning and for the first eleven months.
A ferry bridge for Schnackenburg
He all shifts personally and witnessed countless emotionaller moments: people fell around the neck each other and didn't want to let go again. A memorial was erected during the War-born, trained inland waterwayfer and later customs officials lifetime set: At he Schnackenburger ferry dock reminds a not to be overseen sign pointing to the lifting of the unhuman separation of a continent.
The Ilka runs normally til today and with a little bit of luck you can find Klaus Reineke, in retirement since 2004 in the summer months temporary help at the wheel. But not in this summer because the Ilka is out of order. So we have to walk to Gartow, a small town a few kilometres away. Gartow has a ferry too who is going from Lenzen to Pevestorf under the name „Westprignitz“. It's a very small one and it needs only a few minutes to get over. On the other side we're back on the track: The Kolonnenweg now runs along the dam on the Elbe.
A last Watchtower as overlock
The first sign of the history is a watchtower direct on the border who overlooks the landscape, the wide river and the flat earth around. For the first time we met the bicyclists who drive along the Elberadweg by the hundreds. It's a kind of a highway for them with nice lookouts, some coffeehouses and beautifully renovated houses that no longer remind you of the bad times when the iron curtain ran here and nobody was allowed to come too close to the river.
Twice over the years all the people who lived here were brutally evacuated and taken away to make the border safe. Only very reliable citizens were allowed to live here. Peter, an older man, tells us that he worked here as a farmer. "Every time I had to go to the restricted area to look after the cows, a soldier would sit in the car behind me with his weapon to make sure I didn't escape."
Unreachable for 40 years
The historic town center of Lenzen is only 1.5 km away to the northeast. It was unreachable for nearly 40 years. With his first mentioned in 929, Lenzen is the place with the oldest documented history in the whole Prignitz. Hidden behind trees, the silhouette of Lenzen Castle can be foreseen. A thousand years ago the Slavs built a wooden fortified castle here. On the opposite Elbe side rose then as now the ridge of the Höhbeck, on which in the late 8th century king Karl der Große had a fort built to secure the border against the Slavs.
It is unbelievable to imagine this was cut into half for ages when you see the peaceful landscape, the bicyclists and the wide rolling river between the deep green on the shores and his sandy beaches. The famous ice oak at Mödlitz is the next landmark we passed by. She has seen all this. And she survived like the people who now live again here where Germany once has had two ends.