Part of the A11 in Brandenburg has survived from the Nazi period and is still the original road surface built in 1936. Four kilometers, just past the intersection for Uckermark, on the route from Berlin to Poland may finally be history.
A sign warns of " road damage " and the top speed is limited to 100kph. "The condition of the highway is unbearable," Frank Gotzmann, Office Director in the Brandenburg town of Gartz complained. For remote communities in the region bordering Poland, the A11 is the main arterial road with the Polish city of Szczecin, which plays an increasingly important roll in people everyday lives.
"At that time we had just no experience in concrete roads," says Reinhard Arndt. The 60 year old is a member of the Association Motorway History ( AgAb ) and is considered an expert for East German highways. In the 30s, says Arndt, huge 25 meter concrete slabs were laid on the highways. "Everywhere the slabs are subsiding under the heavy load of cars and trucks, in addition to the strains of the weather . If concrete can not move then it will break down quickly.". On modern roadways the joint spacing is between five and six meters. The concrete slab is less rigid and can move without cracking up as quickly.
Planned under the Weimar Republic, the autobahn between Berlin and Stettin (Szczecin) was opened in September 1936, But the large-scale structure of a route network only began under the dictatorship of the National Socialists. Before the outbreak of war in September 1939 the German motorway network comprised a total of 3297 km .
On the A11 towards Stettin it is still the old route 54 to the Polish border and you often see customs patrols. Officials scour this area almost daily for cigarette smugglers and car thieves.
The highway must be constantly repaired say the staff responsible at Autobahnmeisterei in Gramzow . But repairing the old concrete slabs is only "patchwork". What is needed is a fundamental reconstruction and expansion, because the A11 fulfills both a " long-range national and international significant connection" between Germany and Poland and further northeast to the Baltic States.
People in Gartz use it with good humor. On 27 September 2016 their section of the autobahn turns 80. "Perhaps it is a world heritage site ," Gotzmann suggested.
Images: Die Welt