Iron Curtain Trail: Lost in the loneliness
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.
I'm happy to present you part 12.
In the north of Zarrenthin, a small, but beautiful town near the Schaalsee lake, ends all civilasation as fast as you can't grab it. They have some old churches here, a little monastery and at the lake a few new sail clubs. But if you take you big bad backpack you stumble rith ito a real outback.You will met nobody for 20 miles, no village, no hiker, no one. Right in the middle of Germany,
This happens here in one of the most densely populated countries in europe because the area once was a restricted one: The former Iron Curtain, where we hike along since over a week, is on our left hand side, the border once was in the middle of the nice lake. There a no signs of it, but that is a clear sign. Over us the sun shines bright, it is a warm, a hot day today. We plan to have a cool bath in the lake - but because the former eastern government has made it nearly impossible, to get to the shore, it is very difficult to go there.
No beach, no waterfront, just jungle along the shore. After two hours we find the only tiny place where we can see the water behind a reed belt. Unfortunenately it happens in a moment as the clouds were dark and a storm is coming up.
Leaving the shoreline
So we have to go and leave the shoreline as dry as we came. Our target today is a another small place called Knese who we will reach after a five or six hour trail. Underway we come thtough villages like Lassahn and Techin who have had a hard fate in the cold war.
After the WW2 the russians and the brits deceides to exchange some parts of their occupation zones at a meeting in a small pub in Gadebusch because lakes, forests and bad roads made it difficult for both to reach villages in their zone. The local commanders of the British Army of the Rhine, Generalmajor Colin Muir Barber based in Ratzeburg, and the Red Army, Major General Nikolaj Lyaschenko, based in Wiligrad near Schwerin, therefore agreed to exchange parishes in order to become a simpler to control border.
The people who lived here have to pay the invoice. The more than 650 year old border between Lauenburg and Mecklenburg was new written by the November 13, 1945 in the Gadebusch restaurant "Goldener Löwe" concluded contract changed and all the families who were not ready to live on the wrong communist side of the line for the rest of their lifes, have 48 hours to deceide to left their homes.
What a tragedy. The beginning and the course of the evacuation are informed that the explanation would be "final and irreversible." The residents didn't have much time to think. Fear of the Russians immeasurable; and so was packed and loaded, grain threshed and cattle slaughtered, worked day and night. All goods and people must be transported over the Schaalsee because a use of the streets around the Lake was not possible because they were in the Russian-occupied area.
The refugees of Techin
The transport over the Schaalsee was with the ferry from Stintenburg to Klein Zecher coped with; for this purpose, a larger British ferry and amphibious car for provided the transport of goods. Also fishing boats were used. This way 309 horses and foals, 1,130 cattle, sheep and pigs, the agricultural machinery and implements, the supplies on grain and animal feed, potatoes, beets and other food supplies, furniture, furnishings and other large items transported away.
209 of 238 of the population of Techin left their homeland, only 29 a stayed at home. 75 years later the area is still this kind of empty. But hope dies last: They have a fairies school here!
And after a long run on gravel roads and tiny paths we reach Kneese, a village in the middle of nowhere, where our host Anke runs a vegan forestry farm named Forsthof Kneese. 500 metres away from the former dead zone and a memorial plaque for the refugee Henry Weltzin who was shot here in 1983 we enjoy a vegan chili, one beer and after a shower we lay our heads on some nice, clean pillows for the night.
A few more pictures for you: