In the mornings we take walks to explore the countryside. About 3 miles from our house is the village of Harka. We can see it on our walks in the hills and planned to walk over. Today it was rainy so we decided to drive over. We drove through the village, took a newly paved one lane road looking for a place to turn around, and suddenly we were in Austria at this guard station.
At first we thought it was one of the old guard stations where the communist soldiers would wait to shoot anyone trying to cross. Click on the picture of this small billboard that we saw next to the guard house and you can see how the iron curtain went through the countryside here. Notice the farmers working on the Austrian side right up to the fenceline and on the Hungarian side the soldiers on horseback ready to shoot escaping Hungarians.You can even see a berm in the background to make the escape more difficult by making it easier to shoot people trying to cross the border.
We decided that as we were looking at the picture, we were standing in and looking into Austria. We were probably at an Austrian border station built to protect Austrians and welcome escaping Hungarians. So we turned around and could see where this carefully tended vineyard goes right up to where the iron curtain used to be. If you click on the picture and look closely, you can see the fence posts marking the former iron curtain, the uncultivated "no man's land" from the picture and the berm in the background.
We walked up to the old fence line and looked back towards Harka, Sopron, and our house. You can see the remains of the iron curtain in the picture and if you click for a closeup, you can see the radio tower on the right in the distance not far from our house.
We drove to the other side of the hill on the Austrian side where we could see a Hungarian guard tower overlooking the carefully cultivated fields in Austria.
This is the Hungarian side of the same hill, still uncultivated from when it was a no-man's land twenty years ago. You can't see the tower from this side. It is hidden in the trees to surprise anyone trying to escape. Other than the contrast of cultivated and uncultivated fields, there is no sign of the border today. In fact, we were surprised that we were suddenly in Austria while trying to find a place to turn the car around. There was simply a change in the pavement and a fencepost with the colors of the Hungarian flag painted on it.
Part 2: Week 15--Winter Wonderland
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