Former Iron Curtain oddity now a tourist hotspot

Fri Aug 7, 2009 8:28am EDT
 
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By Caroline Copley

MOEDLAREUTH, Germany (Reuters Life!) - A tiny village of 50 residents straddling the former border dividing East and West Germany and nicknamed "Little Berlin" has preserved its own 100-meter section of the Iron Curtain -- for tourists.

For more than 38 years Moedlareuth belonged to two different countries and ideological systems. The 2.5 meter (eight foot) high Wall, similar to the famous Berlin Wall, remains a fixture in the village center even 20 years after Communism collapsed.

Nowadays the farming hamlet that lies some 300 km (186 miles) south of Berlin has become a prime destination for tourists searching for the remnants of the Communist era when East and West Germany were divided.

"Visitors can come here to get a real glimpse of what it was like to live here with the Wall running through the middle of the village," said Robert Lebegern, director of the Deutsch-Deutsches Museum in the heart of Moedlareuth.

For four decades the villagers of Moedlareuth were divided by the Iron Curtain. Half of the village was in the old German kingdom of Bavaria, the other part lay in the eastern state of Thuringia. It was one bizarre aspect of the country's division.

A neighborly cup of tea is now a mere matter of a few steps, but traces of the old division still persist: there are two different post codes, two dialing codes and two different school systems.

Those living in the former East greet each other with "Guten Tag" (good day) while their neighbors from the heavily Roman Catholic state of Bavaria tend to use the traditional greeting "Gruess Gott!," literally translated as "Greet God!."

In addition to the original segment of Wall -- which looks like a compact version of its big brother in Berlin -- the old border posts, watch towers and barbed-wire fencing still stand in their original positions.   Continued...

 
<p>Tourists walk between the Wall and the security fence at the former East German border in the village of Moedlareuth, about 300 kilometres (186 miles) south of Berlin, July 24, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>