Little Berlin

Abrook flows through the heart of Mödlareuth, forming a natural border within the village. A political border was established in 1819, dividing the village between the Kingdom of Bavaria (West) and the Princedom of Reuss (East). The border was re-established at the end of World War I in 1918 between the states of Bavaria and Thuringia. The border formed by the brook determined official jurisdiction (e.g.: school district east, parish west), but in no way influenced daily village life.

The boundary brook on the right side

At the former tollgate

Following the end of World War II in 1945, Germany was divided by the victorious Allied Nations into four sectors (Soviet, American, British and French). The city of Berlin was also divided into four sectors, the village “Little Berlin” into two. The eastern part of Mödlareuth was located within the Soviet sector, while the western part fell under American jurisdiction. For the village and its inhabitants, this meant being controlled by separate political, military, economic and social systems.

The tollgate, at which the former connecting road ended. An East German border watch tower in the back.

In the years immediately following 1945, it was still possible to cross the boundary brook with a border pass. In 1952, a line of demarcation running parallel to the brook was established. It was 10 meters wide, and one risked being shot down by border patrols upon trespassing beyond the line. The lands located behind the Soviet Sector’s border were secured by 500 meter-wide security zones and 5 kilometer-wide no entry zones. In 1952, thousands of GDR citizens were evacuated from homes located within these zones, in a mission known by the code name of “Ungeziefer” (pests). They were relocated to homes outside the no-entry zone. In the same year, a board fence was built to divide the village. Centuries of social and family networks were abruptly disrupted.

The wall painted in white, a spooky sight especially by night, when the wall was enforced by bright light.

In the following four decades, border fortifications in Mödlareuth were continually and ruthlessly extended. In 1961, the year of the construction of the Berlin Wall, a barbed wire fence mounted on concrete pillars was added. In 1964, East German border troops installed a slab wall made of concrete and wood, built to prevent looking across the border. In 1966, Eastern troops built a 700 meter long, 3.3meter high concrete wall. Ever since, Mödlareuth has been nicknamed “Little Berlin”.

The concrete wall

Part 2: "2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment"  patrolled the border