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Information bulletin
(June 1951)

Caldwell, W. J.
Touring the border,   pp. [7]-11 PDF (3.3 MB)


Page [7]


The Public Relations Division, HICOG, conducted 20 press, radio, magazine
and newsreel correspondents,
having a combined audience in Europe and North America of more than 200,000,000
persons, on a tour in
May of Bavaria's northern and eastern borders overlhoking the Soviet Zone
of Germany, Czechoslovakia
and Austria. The tour enabled them to observe firsthand how people live and
work within the shadows
of the Iron Curtain.. . to see how they are facing the threat of ideologies
which would stifle human free-
dom... and to observe the efforts of the US resident officer to introduce
democracy and restore faith
and confidence among a people who live in a region where West meets East.
Touring the Border
By W. J. CALDWELL
Chief, Public Relations Branch, OLC Bavaria
fI IE SLEEPY BAVARIAN HAMLET of Moedlareuth
T typifies the results of the Communist doctrine of
divide ... and utter confusion.
There, as in many other communities lying astride the
Iron Curtain which wraps snake-like around miles of
Bavaria's twisting northern and eastern frontiers, the
demarcation line between East and West lies flush in the
center of town.
Citizens of Moedlareuth tell you that having the home
town split in two with a forbidden wall to keep lifelong
neighbors and friends apart is no joke. One man living
on the Bavarian side of town hadn't visited his brother,
a resident of the Soviet half of the town, for more than
18 months despite the fact they live only a stone's throw
apart. Countless others experience similar family splits.
But many, with a sly wink, admit that Russian vigilance
has not prevented an occasional "sneak" journey across
the border.
"A community of two nations," grunted one leathery-
ficed native as he leaned on his cane on the Bavarian
side of town.
"Yah," sighed a peasant woman as she snatched up an
unwary child of three toddling in the direction of the
unpainted fence which marked the zonal dividing line,
"two nations side by side -but so distant."
M OEDLAREUTH WAS A TYPICAL German farming
community situated party in the county of Hof, in
the extreme northeast corner of Bavaria, until that fateful
day when the Russians put up the fence in the middle of
the village. The half which the Soviets claimed lies in
adjacentThuringia. That original barrier,which follows the
course of a small stream which forms the state border, was
later made more impenetrable by the Soviets. They dug a
trench parallel to the fence and then added another
wooden fence as a triple deterrent to East-West relations.
Reinforcement of the Iron Curtain at that point followed
swiftly on the heels of two Curtain-defying incidents.
A young Bavarian, on the day of his wedding, wanted
to celebrate the nuptial occasion by publicy flaunting the
Soviets. He brazenly drove his car across Moedlareuth's
(Photographs illustrating this article were furnished by Claude Jacoby,
PRD, HICOG, photographer; Gerald Waller, photographer for"Stars and
Stripes," and Arthur Settel, chief, Public Relations Division, HICOG.)
main street, smashing the fence to a splintered loop, and
then driving triumphantly back through another section
of the wavering Curtain to western safety.
The second Iron Curtain-busting incident which prompted
the three-layer border barrier involved a trucking com-
pany whose owner decided it was healthier to go west.
Mobilizing his fleet of trucks and tractors, he convoyed
the rumbling exodus across town, through the hapless
wooden barrier, to a safe haven on the Bavarian side.
Moedlareuth as a whole comprises approximately 210
natives and some 50 houses, many dating back centuries.
The Bavarian side of town was left without a school, a
store, a post office and a community well by the Soviet's
decision to partition the community. Fortunately, one
enterprising woman on the Bavarian side of town had,
with true womanly intuition, opened a tiny shop in her
home which served bottled beer. Her foresight saved the
Bavarian side from a complete drought.
W ILLIAM G. KEEN of Chattanooga, Tenn., US resident
officer of county Hof, said the Soviet-inspired divi-
sion had created quite a problem for the hamlet's Ba-
varian citizens.
"In normal times," 38-year-old Keen drawled, "the kids
on the Bavarian side of town merely crossed the road into
Thuringia and in a matter of minutes were in school. The
school is now barred to them so they have to walk two
miles to the nearest Bavarian school at Toepen. There
was also the mail problem. At first the Bavarian residents
Looking over US Zone-Soviet Zone barrier at Moedlareuth
are (I.-r.) Jerome Caminada, London Times; Richard O'Mal-
ley, Associated Press; Ed Haaker, NBC; Allen Dreyfuss,
ABC, and Jack Henry, Reuters.           (Photo by Settel)
JUNE 1951


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