Kostrzyn formerly Küstrin is one of those towns that has changed hands a number of times over the centuries. Its history can be traced back to the 2nd century BC. The fortress was built in 1535 and the castle in 1444. Its boom time was in the mid 1800s when it became an important transport hub as well as a garrison town. Kostrzyn is located approximately 70kms east from Berlin. Its last change was in 1945 when under the Potsdam Agreement the border was moved westwards to the River Oder. It is now part of Poland and has recently become popular with day trippers from Germany buying goods at cheaper prices. Close to the border there are a number of garages, fast food outlets, market stalls and shops providing these services for day trippers. Besides being a border town its hosts the largest annual open air music festival in Europe. During the Second World War the Garrison numbered 12,000. During the fighting 5,000 were killed and only 1,000 managed to escape and reach the German lines. The Soviets lost 6,000 men and 12,000 were wounded. The Old Town and Fortress were completely destroyed with the fighting. Bombing finished off the rest of the buildings and factories in the town. After the war, the Poles, instead of rebuilding the town, left it in ruins and built a new town a couple of kilometres east. The new town can best be described as unremarkable. The other place of interest from World War 2 is an old prisoner of war camp but it is a bit of a hike out of town. At the north west corner of the old fortress there is a small soviet cemetery. Parts of the substantial walls of the fortress facing the Oder are still standing and from the battlements you get a sense of the commanding position this fort once had.
I caught the train from Lichtenberg in Berlin to Kostrzyn and purchased a ticket the day before. I’m not sure why but it was mentioned by the ticket office that you have to purchase an additional ticket to complete the journey. The main ticket is valid as far as Kustrin and you have to pay an additional 2.80 euros for a return ticket to Kostrzyn. The train has a ticket machine and the ticket collector will assist with the purchase. As Poland is now part of the Schengen Agreement there are no longer any customs or immigrations controls.