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Travel guide for Thuringia, Germany

This travel guide was prepared by:
Helmut Ebert, international trading company
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Thuringia, Germany
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A visit to Memorial Place "Point Alpha" at the border between Thuringia and Hesse, Germany

Contact Information:
Border Museum Rhoen "Point Alpha"
Office Hummelsberg 1
36169 Rasdorf
Phone 011 49 6651 919030
Fax 011 49 6651 919031
Hours of Operation:
April to October daily from: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
November and March daily from: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
December to February Tuesday to Sunday from: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Memorial Place POINT ALPHA

The memorial place "Point Alpha" should become even more known within Germany as part of the countries history. It is part of our past same as the concentration camps.
Especially the US army and the armed forces from Russia and the former GDR were facing here each other for many years during the Cold War. NATO and Warsaw Pact were watching each other.
Naturally the small NATO group stationed here would have never been able to withstand a sudden attack of the other side, but it was a demonstration - especially of the Americans - to defend Western Europe and to protect the gained freedom. We never should forget that.
Hesse was part of West Germany and Thuringia part of the GDR before the unification of Germany

After the Americans had handed the "Point Alpha" back to the German government in 1991, a new founded associated started to develop this important memorial in 1995.
We learned about "Point Alpha" during our visit in 2005. In this year the former political leaders George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, were honored here during an award ceremony. German should never forget who supported the unification and who are our real friends.

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide
Many thanks to the "Mahn-, Gedenk- und Begegnungsstätte Point Alpha e. V." for the original of this map

Coming from Suhl Thuringia, we naturally parked close to the "Haus auf der Grenze". Lots of free parking was available and the heat wave was in full swing.
In order to visit the museum which is located in these buildings you must purchase tickets. No free entrance as in the concentration camp "Buchenwald"!

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide
The "Haus auf der Grenze"

Because we were only four people, we did not ask for an English guided tour, which should be possible if you book in advance. Three of us spoke anyhow perfect German and most of the signs showed translations in English except those in the museum.
This is a bad, because It would explain to most of the foreign visitors the situation under which both parts of Germany lived during the confrontation between East and West and what East Germans did to escape from the GDR.

Many lost their lives during their attempts to cross the "Iron Curtain". Pictures demonstrate that. In the years between 1949 and 1961, before the "wall" was erected approximately 2 700 000 East Germans fled to the West.
Also for economical reasons the GDR could not survive if this could not be stopped and because they were not capable to make their system more attractive, they decided to make their border to the West not passable.
It is shown in detail how they improved the so called "Friedensgrenze" (Border of peace) step by step to make the crossing more and more dangerous.
Also much of the equipment used by the Russians and the East Germans is on display.
We do not want to replace an actual visit with our web site, we only want to give you an impression what to expect.

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide
After having spend some time in the "Haus auf der Grenze" we wanted to see the observation point where the US army was stationed. We passed a Russian stop sign and also a sample how the border was secured. Believe me it was very dangerous trying to cross that. Concrete barriers, dogs, razor fence, mines and much more were used to protect the own people to leave the socialist paradise. In addition the access to the border area was also restricted. You only could enter it with special permission and the access was also controlled. Each attempt to sneak into such an area was stopped and probably punished.
The only good thing of the closed border was that nature had a chance to recover and rare plants and animals had a safe refuge.

Memorial Place Point Alpha, Thuringia, tourism
Everybody takes picture of the Russian stop sign

Memorial Place Point Alpha, Thuringia, tourism
The US watch tower can be seen in the back of the sample border fortification

We passed an observation tower which was used by the communists and visited the memorial.
It was very hot and unfortunately we were one of the few people who did not carry anything to drink with them.
Others had been smarter and were sitting on picnic tables with a little roof which provided some shade and relaxed.
Another group had a real party and a good time.

I think nothing is wrong to celebrate the fall of the wall and this horrible border in what is a great natural setting now. They even brought their own table cloths with them to be in style. No radios or loud music!
Then we reached the former camp of the US army with their observation point.

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide
An observation tower built by the former GDR

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide
The memorial which honors the USA

Memorial Place Point Alpha, Thuringia, tourism

Memorial Place Point Alpha, Thuringia, tourism

When we entered this area some Americans just came back. One of them was obviously stationed her because he was explaining things to his companions.
We saw lots of military vehicles and helicopters on display which were in use at the border - not only from the US but also some used by the German "Bundesgrenzschutz" (border guard).

Because we arrived before noon we could not see too many visitors at this time, but they were also spread about the huge areal.
This gave us a chance for a relaxing tour through the museum without being pushed or rushed.
Little things such as a gas pump raised our interest because no prices could be displayed. Obviously the gas was free for everybody on "Point Alpha". We paid at the time of our visit about 1.65 US $ for one liter!
Everybody climbed also to the top of the American watch tower.

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide

Memorial Place Point Alpha, Thuringia, tourism

Memorial Place Point Alpha, Thuringia, tourism

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide
Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide

Memorial Place Point Alpha, Thuringia, tourism

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide

Besides a picture taken in the watch tower. Unfortunately the G.I.'s are behind glass and I can not eliminate the reflections.
The soldiers had to stay for 4 hours on duty and had direct contact with the headquarter in Fulda and the patrols around "Point Alpha".
I don't know how much they enjoyed watching East Germany, but today everybody loved the spectacular view.
My general impression was that it was not too bad to live here for a limited time as a soldier. To sleep during winter in a tend and have to go out in the cold to use the facilities may be not too pleasant, but still better than to serve in war zone.

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide

Don't forget to visit the snack bar "Black Horse Inn"! It was closed during our visit so I can not provide any more details.
For that reason we decided to go back to our car and have something to eat and to drink on our way back to Suhl.
I almost missed this old bunker on our way to the parking lot.
Whenever you are in Hesse or in Thuringia and if you are interested in the latest history, please visit "Point Alpha".

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide

Memorial Place Point Alpha, tourism, travel guide

Memorial Place Point Alpha, Thuringia, tourism

Memorial Place Point Alpha, Thuringia, tourism

The Fulda Gap And our Border Squadron

Memorial Place Point Alpha

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