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Medelby, located at the North Sea/Baltic Sea Cycle Route not far south of the Border Route, does not only present 12th century St. Matthäus Church (Norderfeldweg) but the Dutch wind mill Vanessa (Achter de Möhl) as well. The churches interior features works from various epochs which are well worth seeing. The windmill, which was build in 1858, has been altered to be a residential mill, and is only open to the public in connection with occasional exhibitions and concerts.
Between the tranquil villages Weesby and Jardelund, 300 meters north of the Border Route, lies the nature preservation area ‚Böxlunder Eichenkratt’. You might have to cycle uphill for a short while, but you will be rewarded with a special experience: On your left, your eyes are drawn to a surprisingly deep gravel pitch, at the bottom of which a lake shimmers strangely, dug into wooded slopes. A resting place invites to stay at here, in surroundings that seem to be out of this world.
In Jardelund cyclists interested in culture have the opportunity to get an authentic insight into country life of the past hundred years. The peculiar thing about the exhibition in Christian Lassen’s MindeMuseum (Kupfermühlenweg 4, Thurs. or by appointment, tel: +49 4605 188759) is that it does not consist of collected items, it has, however, been part of the life of the old village pub’s last habitant. His complete household, the heritage of generations in museum-like original condition, shows the life back then.
Between the forests of Jardelund and Frøslev lies the nature preservation area Frøslev-Jardelunder Moor. It stretches over 527 hectares and across the border. Information about the local nature is presented on both sides of the border. On the German side there is also a 2.5 km experience path through the moor with information boards about plants and animals, the moor’s formation and ecology. You reach the information hut by following the small cycle signpost showing the number 4, between the border crossing ‚Fehle/Sofiedal’ and Jardelund, in eastward direction. The local route 18, branching of from the North Sea/Baltic Sea Cycle Route near Pluskær, leads to the Danish information hut. Here there is a hiking trail to the place where the Frøslev shrine was found. It is marked by an oaken obelisk. The shrine was found during peat-cutting in 1872, and smuggled from North Schleswig, which was German at the time, to Denmark. A copy of the 10th century gilded relic shrine was the wedding gift for the Danish Crown Prince and his wife, made by the people of Southern Jutland.
Sofiedal, Frøslev Plantage
In Sofiedal there are still many houses, which were built by colonists under Danish king Frederick V. from 1761 onwards. The colonists were lured here from Württemberg, Hesse, and the Palatinate to cultivate the sparsely populated, barren land. Originally, everything here was heath and moor landscape, and even today the wide moor stretches out to the west. It offers hardly any cultural sights, but the experience of total stillness. Here you really get an impression of the secludedness of the border lands.
If you are interested in historical roads and old bridges, you should take a detour on the cycle route of the Hærvej/Ochsenweg (Oxen Trail) which crosses the border route in Fårhus. A little north of the Border Route you will find an original section of the interconnection between Danish Viborg and German Wedel on the river Elbe. The Oxen Trail has existed since the Bronze Age. The nearby granite ashlar bridge Gejlå Bro, built 1818, is worth the trip, too.
On the ride through the idyllic forest of the Frøslev Plantation, suddenly a stern looking portal shows, behind it a spacious camp of red painted barracks looking just as stern. This place and its history are well-known to most Danes, while German cyclists often stop at its gate in confusion.
The Border Route leads straight through the imposing ‚Frøslev Camp’ (Frøslevlejren). It was set up as a German police prison camp in 1944, under the charge of the German security police in Denmark. From August 1944 to the liberation on 5th May 1945, a total of 12,000 prisoners passed through the camp.
Unlike other German concentration camps, violence, torture, humiliation and killings did not occur by and large. Yet deportations to German concentration camps were undertaken from here. Later the camp served, under the name of ‚Faarhus Camp’, as a detention camp for collaborators of the German occupiers.
In addition to the ‚Frøslevlejrens Museum’ that has been communicating the camp’s history in detail since 1969, other interesting museum exhibitions on the camp ground include amongst others those of Amnesty International, the UN, the Danish Home Guard, the Danish civil defence, and a nature exhibition of the Danish environmental board.
Vilmkær, Handewitt, Padborg
South of the Frøslev Plantation the gaze wanders across wide fields – and almost without noticing you cross the border again. In Vilmkær all that is left is the mail box of the Danish customs.
And you will look for border control in vain: Since the Schengen Acquis came into effect on 25 March 2001, controls focus on the hinterland.
After the demarcation in 1920 the border was still patrolled by foot. In 1955 the border control became more mobile. First motorcycles, then car patrols were introduced. In 1969 the systematic surveillance of the hinterland was established.
A real revolution was the introduction of video surveillance. While the German Federal Border Guard searched the green border at specific points with thermal image cameras, the Danish police installed motion detectors and infra-red cameras at the small border crossings.
In particular one farmer was monitored in Vilmkær. He was counted to Denmark upon personal request in the demarcation process. Unfortunately the road to his house became German, and he had to use the border crossing every time he drove from his farm. As there was no barrier here, the customs officials anxiously waited for smugglers, and examined the Farmer and his visitors at every opportunity.
Near the church of Handewitt which is visible a long way, the local VillageMuseum (Alter Kirchenweg 4, only 1. + 3. Thurs. of the month or by appointment Tel. +49 4608 970694) presents an exhibition about householding, agriculture, village history, and extracts of rural life.
At the Border Route rest area between Handewitt and Harrislee you can experience nature and archaeology in the neighbouring ‘Naturerlebnisraum Stiftungsland Schäferhaus’: With experimental points, nature information boards, reconstructed cairns, rare plants and wild animals, the nature preservation area of 300 hectares offers you an interesting change. You can also find a piece of the original trail of the Oxen Trail, where up to 40,000 oxen were driven south in the 17th century.
While you can glimpse a sea of truckage halls in the north when cycling on the North Sea/Baltic Sea Cycle Route near Frøslev, on the Border Route you would not notice that Padborg is Northern Europe’s largest transportation and logistics centre with 3,000 employees in the transportation industry alone. After the 1920 poll, Padborg almost became part of Germany – but the line of the border was adjusted to the south belatedly. Now 4,500 lorries frequent the town every day, and it has profited enormously on its marginality.