Fences and Walls - Staying in Former East Germany

My blog posts must be short for a while because of extremely slow connection speeds. I feel like I've stepped back in history.

It seems appropriate, however, that I should feel things slow down. First we are staying with Jeremy and Maja in the small village of Ludersdorf, population 1,000. The pace of life is different in a small town.

Second, Ludersdorf is located in the former East Germany that was surrounded by fences and walls to keep people inside its boundaries.

Today we looked at remnants of the history of a divided Germany at Grenzhus in Schlagsdorf. I couldn't help but notice how much effort was put into containing East Gemans. It was incredible.Walls and barbed wire fences were only a part of the containment. There was raked sand to show footprints in case someone approached too close to the wall. There were dogs and watch towers. There were ditches. Barbed wire was stretched across water. Even the positioning of screws was decided with the goal of keeping East Germans contained.

Jeremy showed us where Maja's father, at the age of 14, saw his home demolished. His family was forced to leave their home which had been in their family for generations. They were too close to the wall...no-man's land... and were given just three hours to gather their possessions and leave. Their home was bulldozed and flattened.

"Borders - they determine everybody's life, human and environmental relations; on one hand they protect, on the other they restrict and divide." (English version of the information guide for Grenzhus Museum.)

I can't help but look beyond institutional, geographical and political borders and consider walls we build around ourselves. On the one hand, we protect our emotional selves. No one can intrude and change us. But at what price? We protect our feelings and security but we imprison our spirit that yearns to connect. The human spirit is all about connecting.

Maybe if we manage to knock down the metaphorical walls we build around ourselves, there will be less chance that real dividing walls will be erected in the future.

1 comment:

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