After crossing Ireland on horseback, en route to our next adventure, my husband and I managed to find ourselves stuck in Germany due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Christian, my husband, is from Germany. So in today’s article we explore the place where he grew up. And we find out why a big ugly fence almost kept him and I apart forever. You’re gonna learn a lot of history! And you’re going to see something from horseback which really no one has done before! Be sure to check out our adventure of horse riding in Germany along the Iron Curtain.
Author: Krystal Kelly
Horse Riding in Germany Along the Old Eastern German Border
A Wall Built to Last
Susan Burger, who works at the Deutsche-Deutsches Museum Mödlareuth, shared with us some information about the wall. The wall was built in 1966. And today a part of it still remains to commemorate the German separation and border. The segments on display at the museum are actually wall segments from the Berlin Wall, which was a bit higher security than in Mödlareuth.
They are pretty massive! There is a hole you can look through, to get an idea of the diameter. Christian could put his whole hand through! The wall is thick concrete with steel reinforcements, and as you can see from the photos, it’s pretty high. Apart from Berlin, Mödlareuth was the only town that was separated by a wall. But there was more wall along the border than what is still standing. At the end of the 80’s, there was about 30 kilometers of wall along roughly 1400 km of border.
A Daring Escape
We know of one fairly spectacular escape, which happened here in Mödlareuth. It was achieved by a delivery man. Basically no one was allowed to go anywhere near the wall. But this person, because he was a delivery driver, had special permission to get into the closer zone. In 1973 he used his car and a self-made ladder to cross the wall. He was able to get to the west without being harmed; this was the only successful flight over the wall in Mödlareuth. This escape had a lot of consequences for the village itself. The border was fortified even more after it was accomplished.
The first time Christian’s grandma ever saw Americans was when she was around 15 or 16. And the Americans came into the village sitting on a tank on a road going down into the village to free the people. Her parents had to move because they were too close to the borderline. So they were basically deported, and a couple of years later all the houses got torn down. There’s a couple of ruins that his Grandma can identify because of a group of trees there. Christian’s Grandma was born in 1930. They started deporting people in 1952 and started building fences and walls in the 50’s. Later, in ‘62, everyone was out and fortifications increased.
The wall and the division of Germany into two countries had quite an impact on the region here and on social life. Christian’s grandma for example, was 16 to 20 years old when the wall came up. She had friends she went to school with who were all of a sudden on the other side of the wall. So when the wall came down, she visited friends she hadn’t seen for 40 years! They saw each other last when they were just coming out of school, and would revisit each other as pensioners.
The Iron Curtain
A fence – the physical manifestation of the famed Iron Curtain – ran along between the two Germanies for 1393 km. Right through the middle of Germany. But what you might not know, is that the border reached 500 m into the eastern part of Germany. There was a second fence with wires. These wires triggered a silent alarm if you cut them or if they touched each other. So when you would try to climb over it, this would trigger a silent alarm in a control tower. This meant that even if you did get over the first fence, you would have to go another 500 m to reach the next one. And by that time the troops would have arrived and you would most likely get caught.
Standing on the western side of the Iron Curtain, you can see that all the nuts and bolts are facing towards the west. So this fence, which was proclaimed to keep the East safe from the fascist West, was actually easily disassembled from the western side. This is one of the clues which show you that this fence and the wall was not necessarily designed to keep the western fascists out, but more to keep the eastern population in.
I hope you have learned something about a very unique and undiscovered place in this article! Here is a bit more footage of horse riding in Germany for you. Enjoy!
Want to Go Horse Riding in Germany?
Are you planning on going horse riding in Germany? More so, do you need a little extra support or information? I have several pieces of advice for you. Firstly, become a member of our Equestrian Adventuresses Facebook group. There you’ll be able to connect with awesome women riders from around the world who can give you first-hand recommendations and share their experiences. If you end up going horse riding in Germany, be sure to post your photos in the group to inspire other riders!
Secondly, I recommend that you sign up for our Equestrian Adventuresses on-line courses. With these courses, you’ll learn horsemanship and travel safety from FEI level II certified instructor and Equestrian Adventuresses founder Krystal Kelly. What you learn will give you the confidence and knowledge to make your next equestrian adventure safe and fun!
Enjoyed reading this article on horse riding in Germany? Be sure to check out this fascinating article about one woman’s experience riding mules in Germany!