Monday August 12th Sobering historical reminders on the trail. From Großmenow to Leiberswalde - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 3 - CycleBlaze

August 12, 2019

Monday August 12th Sobering historical reminders on the trail. From Großmenow to Leiberswalde

Rain overnight has given way to clear morning skies. There are already keen swimmers on the lake. We discover our yoghurt is a soy product- not so tangy, in fact not much anything. But not bad. We take our leave of Bodie. He’s unsure about staying because his hips are giving him pain. Ann asks if he will get an op but he says he’s reluctant because you never know what might go wrong. I tell him it’s why I’ve rejected cosmetic surgery.

We emerge from the green world of Großmenow and detour around Fürstenberg embarking on a trail through pines growing in sandy soil. This leads to  Ravensbrück, setting of the notorious women’s concentration camp. About 50,000 women perished here between its establishment and the allied liberation in 1945. It’s a place that’s become fixed in my own mind through reading about such wartime resistance undercover agents as Odette Sansom (who survived imprisonment) and German socialists whose political views contravened those of the Nazis. Austrian socialist Käthe Pick Leichter, was a political prisoner who was Jewish; she wore a yellow star but also a red badge of Communism.

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Today it is a place that looks arid. The sandy soil, the grey concrete buildings which stand mute all give an impression of abandonment. The buildings extend along the edge of the cycle path for hundreds of metres and among them are the now abandoned, once stately looking houses of those in authority. We do not enter the camp but are able to view the central area from the cycle path. It looks vast and empty. Further on is the remains of a ‘work camp’ for any 16-24 year old women who were considered to show dissident or delinquent behaviour or contrary political opinions. The happy greetings from cyclists approaching from the opposite direction seem a strange contrast to the memorial of tragic events that were perpetrated on the other side of the wire fence we cycle along.

Much of the rest of the day is pleasant cycling through green haze of  forest and some near water. After a lunch of pizza and nectarines we decide that Leiberswalde will be as far as we can go today. It will give us around 70kms to cover coming into Berlin but that seems doable. At Leiberswalde we find the ‘Herberge ‘ - just what we need. We have a huge room, ensuite and tea making facilities!

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Today's ride: 75 km (47 miles)
Total: 700 km (435 miles)

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