runningtheberlinwall

Day 4 – Fulda Gap

In Berlin Wall, GDR, Uncategorized on May 18, 2009 at 10:38 am
Clash that never came.

Clash that never came.

We’ve mainly focused on the ramifications of the border on Germans. But here we’re reminded of the bigger picture. This is the Fulda Gap, a strategic lowland corridor where NATO planners expected any Soviet push to be concentrated. From here it was 48 hours to the psychologically symbolic Rhine.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that newsreaders in the UK would report exercises on this border; any one of which could be the start of the Soviet attack that so many of us feared.

I lived in Sunderland in North East England, and we were told that it was a primary target because it was a port. Every so often the main police station would test an air raid siren which would herald incoming missiles after the authorities received the infamous “four-minute warning”.

Here at the Point Alpha museum, the Americans had their own watchtowers. Watching them, watching us, watching them… A flagpole flying the Stars and Stripes marks the point where US jeeps would turn around before the border as they made their rounds.

In the museum, a diorama (see above pic) shows models of the weaponry that would have been involved: tanks, armoured cars, tracked missile launchers and attack helicopters. During NATO exercises, orange denotes enemy forces and friendly fire incidents are sometimes are referred to as a “blue on blue”.

Here we saw our first SM-70, the GDR antipersonnel mine that lined the border in many places. Attached to a post or the fence, it was activated by a tripwire and would send out 80 or so steel splinters in a deadly cone. A sobering reminder that people had died along the border, and very unpleasantly too.

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