A short ride from my new home town is a place that played an amazing part in post-World War Two life – it was at the Friedland Transit Camp that millions of displaced people, POW’s and refugees travelled through.
It was near the small village of Friedland that the US, British and Soviet Zones of occupation met and it became a fulcrum of demographic shift. Overlooking the transit camp is a huge privately funded memorial raised in 1967 in memory of the lives torn apart by WW2.
The Friedland-Gedächtnisstätte memorial is held by some to be confusing as it does not mention what the Nazi’s (or German people) did against others (such as the Jews outside of the nation) but simply lists the huge numbers of Germans effected by the World War and being generous I would say concur with the central theme that war is hell!
The memorial has four shards (of a fractured Germany) which hold 12 panels highlighting the frightening numbers of dead soldiers, POW’s, expelled and deported, missing and there is a humanist plea on one panel that says; “Peoples renounce hatred – reconcile, serve peace – build bridges to each other! ”
Very close to Friedland was the defunct Internal Grenze a barrier set through Germany and we passed the old custom house that was just inside West Germany where there is a nice display board highlighting the kilometre after kilometre of displaced people who lined up to enter the Friedland Transit Camp.
A few metres up the road was another display at Kirchgandern (once inside the DDR), this told a story of a West German woman who was approached in a carpark in whilst on a trip to the DDR by a man who wanted her to get him parts for his Volkswagen, (she had just parked hers) although she said no the authorities questioned her and stripped her car down to the last bolt to check she wasn’t up to some sort of anti-DDR shenanigans.
We had great cake (Gooseberry and Strawberry Torte) at the Bisenhausen Manor House (inside West Germany) which looks just so wonderfully old and we sped back home along tarmac and smooth concrete roads and set wheel on public roads just a few times.
A good reminder that despite the seemingly benign roads I have been enjoying was to find a white Ghost Bike in memorial to a cyclist killed in 2011.
The Ride: (mostly road) https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3750298314
Cycle Fahrrad Goettingen home page
See also Friedland Transit Camp
I am an (cycling) immigrant
Museum Friedland (a very good website in German and English)
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