Co-written with sister column
Our 50th Pic of the Week keeps us at the former West and East German border (now Thuringia-Bavaria) but takes us to what was one of the most important crossings during the Cold War.
The Rudolphstein Viaduct, known since 2006 at The Bridge of German Unification, spans the River Saale between the towns of Rudolphstein on the Bavarian side and Hirschberg on the Thuringian side. Another town that is even closer to the bridge is Sparnberg, which is only a kilometer away. The 255 meter long bridge carries the Autobahn 9, which connects Berlin with Munich, passing through Leipzig/Halle, Hof, Nuremberg and Augsburg. The bridge was the work of Fritz Limpert and Paul Bonatz, built in 1936 as part of the project to build the Autobahn that still connects the two major cities. It featured two identical bridges with eight arches made of granite stone, with a height of 35 meters and a width for each bridge of 22 meters. It was one of the first crossings and served as a polster boy for Adolf Hitler’s Autobahn construction project which expanded until 1942 and included dozens of bridges similar to this crossing. Another bridge nearby, the Koditz Viaduct in Hof, was built in 1940 as part of the Autobahn project connecting Hof with Chemnitz.
The bridge was severely damaged before the end of World War II with one of the arches having been detonated by Nazi soldiers in a desperate attempt to slow the advancement of American troops from the south and the Soviets from the east. The bridge sat idle for 21 years until 1966, when an agreement between both East and West Germany allowed for the bridge to be repaired and reopened to traffic. It served as a border control crossing until the Fall of the Wall in 1989. Seven years later, an extension was built which serves northbound traffic to Berlin. The original spans serve southbound traffic.
A lot of the relicts from this viaduct and nearby can still be found today. This includes a path where the Soviets and East German police patrolled the Thuringian side to ensure that no one attempted to cross the border over to Bavarian side. This includes a unique pic which can be found here. South of the bridge is a former Bavarian crossing point, which is now a rest area with convenience store, restaurant and souvenir shop. And then we have this pic:
This was found on the north end of the bridge. The question here is what was this part of the bridge used for? We do know that parking at this bridge has been banned since 1989, but what was this place used for prior to that? This question goes to any historian, local, traveler or the like that is willing to answer this .