| Estelle Peard |
MOEDLAREUTH, Germany (AFP) – Germany, 1989: Snow falls as an excited crowd breaks through the Wall and people tearfully embrace loved ones after decades of living apart.
The scene recalled here happened not in the current German capital, an enduring symbol of Cold War division, but in the quiet and hilly village of Moedlareuth.
This rural hamlet of about 50 people, located on the border of the German states of Thuringia and Bavaria, is now also celebrating the 25th anniversary since the inner-German border came down.
Indeed, Moedlareuth has been an oddity since the 19th century, given its location.
As a community it has shared a school, a fire station and an inn, and its people celebrated holidays together, but it was administratively divided between two states, with different postal- and telephone-dialing codes.
Local people even used different greetings on the two sides, with Thuringians usually saying “Guten Tag” (Good Day) and Bavarians opting for the southern variant, “Gruess Gott” (Greet God).
In 1949, the geographic boundary here – a small creek that runs through the middle of the village — became a deep geopolitical gulf, as post-war Germany was split into the western Federal Republic of Germany and the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR).
In the early years of the partition, villagers were still allowed to move on both sides of the small waterway. But in 1952 the GDR put up a wooden fence that cut through the heart of Moedlareuth.
Then in 1966 it was replaced with a concrete wall that was three metres (10 feet) high, topped with watchtowers and guarded day and night.
On either side, stretches of barbed wire created a no-man’s land along the impenetrable new frontier.
As elsewhere in the divided nation, some families were dispossessed, others torn apart.
“Overnight, the children on the Bavarian side could no longer attend the school which was located in Thuringia, farmers couldn’t reach their fields, the community was shattered,” said Robert Lebegern, director of the local German-German Museum founded in 1990, the year the nation reunified.