Dark traces: Behind the Little Iron Curtain

in Pinmapple5 months ago


What an enchanted wonderland. Steep rock towers stretch into the blue sky around the Ostrov village, steep walls surround the tiny town in the Biela Valley, whose name translates as “island”. Ostrov is located in a secluded location in the mountains of the Ore Mountains, 13 kilometers northwest of Děčín at 460 m above sea level in Bohemian Switzerland. There are only three dozen houses here, hidden in a valley right on the German border. Forgotten border pillarForgotten border pillar

A famous climbing area

The place is a popular climbing area, because in the east the rugged rock faces of the Eiland Walls (Ostrovské skály) rise and in the west the place is bordered by the Mühlberg and the Kingdom of Heaven (Volské Kameny). In contrast to many other regions in the mountainous border area between Germany and the Czech Republic, this region south of Große Schaftberg with the Grenzplatte, a viewpoint with a view to the south, is hardly known.

The rocks are incredibleThe rocks are incredible

This is not a wonder. There is no longer a road to Ostrov from the north. And from the south only one, which suddenly branches off from the Sněžník-Tisá connecting road, leads down to the place forgotten by the world.

Property of czech policeProperty of czech police 

That was not always so. In the distant past there were close connections between Eiland and Rosenthal on the German side. This was economically necessary, because a hammer mill was built here in the 15th century in which the iron ore that was mined in Schneeberg to the north was processed.

Ruins of the former borderRuins of the former border

The day the tourists came

Because of its attractive location, the place developed into a popular summer resort in the 19th century. The industry had largely disappeared because the ore had run out. The locals lived from spinning wool. Then hotels and inns were built, even a rest home, surrounded by artificial ponds and an outdoor swimming pool at the mill. Czechs and Germans enjoyed hiking, climbing and swimming here, at least until the end of the Second World War.

A view from aboveA view from above 

Then it was over. Although the socialist GDR and Czechoslovakia, which was also controlled from Moscow, described themselves as “brother countries”, they raised an iron curtain in the closely connected corner. The border crossing between Ostrov and the German neighboring town of Rosenthal-Bielatal was closed. The old road on the Biela, which leads up from the Schweizermühle and Ottomühle on the Saxon side, degenerated into a hiking trail that ended at a fence.

The old pool, victim of timesThe old pool, victim of times

“With effect from June 22, 1945, all permits to cross the border are no longer valid for persons currently residing in Czechoslovakia and working in Germany,” the authorities announced. All those affected would have to report to the employment office.

The pub ””Zur Grenze” was a police station laterThe pub ""Zur Grenze" was a police station later

Policemen at the  hotel

A border police station moved into the pub and hotel "Zur Grenze" (To the Border), the largest house at the end of the town, in order to curb the small border traffic, which was difficult to control. Measures were also used to prevent holidaymakers from coming to Ostrov in an uncontrolled manner. The beautiful place fell into a “Sleeping Beauty” sleep. Many houses and the old bath fell into disrepair. Especially after the government in Prague had designated a new border zone: According to official documents, there were 6,750 houses and almost 8,000 residents in it that had to be relocated.

Now they have a few nice and friendly tourist hotelsNow they have a few nice and friendly tourist hotels

Their houses, as far as they stood between the state border and the wire fence, were demolished. Ostrov and its unique natural beauty were forgotten by hikers and climbers, because until 1990 the two brother countries guarded the border with their respective “brother armys” as if they were an enemy. Only after the end of the communist regime did a tourist infrastructure emerge again: a beach was created on the large pond, two inns were founded, a wonderful hotel with a fantastic restaurant and a campsite with bungalows, which can serve as a starting point for hikes in the charming surroundings.

On the bottom of the old poolOn the bottom of the old pool

Traces of the dark past

But anyone who opens their eyes will discover traces of the dark past everywhere. There are still posts in the forest where barbed wire used to run along. The warning letters on the border guard look faded. Not far from there, the once wonderful outdoor swimming pool is rotting away, now just a lost place full of leaves and rubbish right on the way out of the idyllic valley, always along the small Ostrovská Bělá stream, which creates reflecting water surfaces everywhere .

Hotel ”Ostrov” is the first house in ostovHotel "Ostrov" is the first house in ostov

The comfortable and beautiful route leads through lots of small rock towns. From the Ochsensteine you go to nameless rock needles - mountaineering on sandstone rocks was once invented here near Ostrov, and today it is once again a paradise for rock climbers. If you continue along the path, you will pass through a beautiful valley to the Elbe and Königstein Fortress. However, if you stay nearby, you can choose the Grenzweg (Border Trail), which is part of the Forgotten Borderland educational trail, and on this, for example, to the little-known and beautiful hike through the breathtakingly beautiful Rájecké skály rock group.

On the left Germany beginsOn the left Germany begins

Hiking the border

However, a true connoisseur of views will head uphill from the bed of the river on a path that follows the border to reach the rocks on the Saxon side. However, he is already high above the river valley, where a narrow path leads to the edge of the rocks. A mighty rocky plateau awaits him there and the view of Grenzplatte, whose beauty is legendary. Behind the top of the rock towers the view opens up into the wooded valley, in the east the Ostrover rocks line up and there on the horizon the Hoher Schneeberg table mountain floats like an ocean ship in the sea of clouds.

   Thank you for reading and if you like my work please follow me          on HiveTravelfeed or Steem or visit my homepage koenau.de

It’s a quit place at the end of the worldIt's a quit place at the end of the world Frozen waterfallFrozen waterfall Steep way through the rocksSteep way through the rocks You have to climb a lot in this areaYou have to climb a lot in this area Another requiem from the old and closed borderAnother requiem from the old and closed border Rocks and woodRocks and wood In memory of climbersIn memory of climbers The new ”pool”The new "pool" An old mapAn old map Caption! Border!Caption! Border! More from the old poolMore from the old pool
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