German / German BorderGerman / German BorderGerman / German BorderGerman / German BorderGerman / German Border

German / German Border

The German section of EuroVelo 13 - Iron Curtain Trail combines the routes of two existing cycle routes. First the cyclist is led along the Baltic Coast Route from the German-Polish border at Swinemünde to the Priwall peninsula at Travemünde. From there on, the “German German Border Trail” leads along the former inner German border to the Czech Republic.

The first stretch along the Baltic coast is well worth a visit for its varied coastal landscapes and many historic spas and hanseatic towns. The starting point lies west of Swinemünde (Świnoujście) in the very interesting Usedom Nature Park. From Usedom with its fantastic beaches (it is known as “Berlin’s bathtub”), the trail continues via the old hanseatic city of Greifswald, past the Bodden and the Strelasund up to Stralsund.

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You continue through the West Pomeranian Bodden landscape with its long sandy shoreline and shallow waters. Before reaching Warnemünde, you cross the extensive forest of the Rostock Heide and you can take a detour to explore the city of Rostock. After that, the trail winds its way alongside unspoiled natural beaches and impressive steep cliffs, on through tranquil, gently sloping farming country, past Wismar and along the Mecklenburg Bay, until you finally reach the coastal town of Travemünde.

It is at this point - where the borders of the Federal Republic and the GDR once intersected at the Baltic Sea - that the trail along the former inner-German border begins. Following the track of the German-German Border Trail, which has more commemorative sites, memorial stones and preserved border installations than any other section of this trail, you now head along small country roads towards the old hanseatic town of Lübeck. Before reaching this, you can visit the Customs House Museum in Lübeck-Schlutup to learn about the significance of the inner German border for the region. Of course you should also take a look at Lübeck itself, one of the most important of the hanseatic cities, with its UNESCO World Heritage listed old town.

You now cross the Lauenburgische Seen nature park and the picturesque town of Ratzeburg situated between four lakes and then, after Schlagsdorf, cycle along part of the preserved original border paths used by the GDR border troops, before continuing along the Elbe. On the way you will see memorials of the outpost of Neuengamme Concentration Camp, Gorleben, known above all for its controversial nuclear waste disposal centre, and the Schnackenburg Border Museum. After passing through the medieval village of Salzwedel you continue past Zicherie-Böckwitz (also known as ‘Little Berlin’), a village that was once split in two by the border installations, and along the Drömling nature park to Wolfsburg. You can then visit the memorial site of the former Marienborn checkpoint or the 350-metre-long original border installations at Hötensleben.

The trail now takes you to the Harz nature park, and you could well take a trip from there to the mysterious Mount Brocken before going on to the picturesque towns of Duderstadt and Heiligenstadt. At the Duderstadt-Worbis border crossing you will find another informative border museum, which also comprises the former customs administration and control buildings. A few kilometres further, in Böseckendorf, you should also take a look at the border memorial by the German-American sculptor Roger Bischoff.

Now the Trail follows the banks of the Werra, passing Eschwege and the post-war documentation centre in Wanfried and, not far from Geisa, brings you to Point Alpha, one of the most important sites on the entire German section of the trail. At Point Alpha, the westernmost point of the Warsaw Pact and easternmost point of NATO territory, the armies of the two blocs came face to face at a distance of only 200 metres. Today it is the site of one of the most interesting of all border museums, with preserved sections of the border defence installations.

After cycling through the Rhön Biosphere Reserve, you go on past Bad Königshofen and the cross of peace on the Dachsberg hill, set up in memory of the forcible resettlement policy under “Aktion Ungeziefer” (pest control) in 1952. A little further, on the former border strip between Bavaria and Thuringia, between Mellrichstadt and Meiningen, it is also worth taking a short break in the spectacular sculpture park. If you want to take a look at the former border strip from above, you can do so near Zimmerau, the site of the 38-metre Bayernturm tower, from which you could once view the GDR’s border installations. Back on firm ground, you cycle on towards Ummerstadt. This was once the smallest town in the GDR and today has a jewel-like quality, with its half-timbered houses, market place and fountain.

Go on past the Görsdorf memorial of the Wall, Kronach and the medieval Lauenstein castle and continue through the Thuringian-Frankish schist mountains towards the Czech border. Shortly before you reach it, you pass through another divided village or ‘Little Berlin’, Mödlareuth, which was split in two by the German-German border during the Cold War. There are still traces of that split in the form of observation towers, border posts and a remnant of the concrete wall. At Prex, you finally reach the border with the Czech Republic, the end of the German section.

 

  • 1,393 km
    Length of the
    German German Border
  • 1990
    YEar the Border
    Was ABANDONED
  • 700
    Watchtowers built
    by 1989
  •  

 

  • Grenzhus Schlagsdorf, Germany

    The Border House at Schlagsdorf (Grenzhus Schlagsdorf) presents an overview of the inner German border, focusing on the Schleswig-Holstein and Schaalsee region, with many original artefacts used by the East German border guards. It provides a realistic impression of what the border looked and what it felt like as a local inhabitant or a border security guard. The exhibition also documents the subsequent transformation of the border region into a haven for wildlife. An outdoor exhibition on the outskirts of the village preserves reconstructed and original elements of the border fortifications, including a watchtower, fences, control strip and replica SM-70 directional mines.

  • Point Alpha, Germany

    During the Cold War, this was probably one of the hottest spots between the two blocks: the former US observation camp called 'Point Alpha'. Here, at the border between East and West Germany, NATO and the Warsaw Pact stood face to face. In the case of an invasion, this could have been one the most direct routes for the soviet armies. With the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the inner German border, 'Point Alpha' lost its function. But nowadays you can visit a museum and a reconstructed strip of border protection system.

  • Wartburg Castle, Germany

    Located on a steep precipice 410 metres above the town of Eisenach, the Wartburg is a castle originally built in the Middle Ages. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999, Wartburg Castle was originally the home of St. Elisabeth of Hungary but is also famous as being where Martin Luther translated the New Testament of the Bible into German. Although the castle still contains original structures from the 12th to 15th centuries, much of the interior dates back only to the 19th-century period of Romanticism.

  • River Elbe, Germany

    For much of the second half of the twentieth century, the middle Elbe in the North German Plain marked the border between West and East Germany. For that reason, even today the riverbanks look relatively natural and undeveloped. (Photo credit: Christian Fischer)

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