I never really know what I will stumble into when I start my day. Today was one of the most interesting days I’ve had, and I had no idea it was coming.
The day started out innocently enough when I walked out the hotel door after breakfast at 7:45. I first walked through Worbis and then found myself walking on the highway but there was absolutely no one on the road. I’ve been on this road before and it is normally busy. I walked an hour and never saw a single vehicle. It was eerie. After about three miles on this road I walked into the next little town and realized why there was no traffic. The highway through town was completely closed for construction. Traffic coming into town from the north was diverted off the highway. Traffic from the south where I’d just come from had been diverted at a point before I got on the road. So the three mile stretch I walked on was completely abandoned, except for me. After the construction the road was open to vehicles and luckily there was a bike trail.
As I approached the town of Duderstadt, I noticed a building that said museum in German. It really didn’t dawn on me what the museum was about until I walked another 100 yards and saw a large sign that said “ Hier waren Deutschland undo Europa bis zum 10. November 1989 um 0:35 Uhr.” Translated: Here were Germany and Europe until 10 November 1989 at 0:35 o’clock. Directly behind the sign was a large barrier gate, and later were some buildings that looked like they use to be guard or inspection stations. I realized I had just crossed one of the few official border checkpoints between the former West and East Germany. Without even knowing it I had been walking through the former communist East Germany for several days. Somewhere south of Suhl, where I arrived last Friday, 12 July, I had entered the former East Germany without realizing it. So Suhl, Ohrdruf, Eckardtsleben, Mulhausen, and Worbis, town I stayed the night in, were actually in the former East Germany and now I was walking through an old border crossings back into what was West Germany until the Berlin Wall fell on 10 November 1989. Though the official reunification of Germany didn’t happen until 1990, the date in 1989 is recognized as the day the borders were abolished.
I continued into Duderstadt, a beautiful German city, and had lunch. Duderstadt was a key city during the time of the communist border because it was here where the lucky few who could get permission to go into East Germany to visit family would board busses and make the short ride to the checkpoint to cross the border. After clearing both West German and East German customs, passengers would get off the first, West German bus and board a second, East German bus to continue to their destination.
After realizing I had crossed the former border, I didn’t recall seeing any signs of the old fencing and other security boundaries that the communists had in place on their side of the border prior to 1989. However, I must admit, I didn’t realize I was in old East Germany so I didn’t know to be looking.
Tonight I’m staying in the Hotel & Pension Amtsrichter in Gieboldahausen. It’s a beautiful old building which has been updated inside. The gentleman who checked me in spoke very little English but he said something about the Fuhrer and 1932. Not sure if he was trying to tell me that Hitler stayed here in 1932 or not.
All in all, it was a most eventful day. I hope you enjoyed hearing about it.