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Elsie the Cow Wanders across Communist Border

July 30, 1986

GARTOW, West Germany (AP) _ A cow belonging to a West German farmer wandered over the heavily guarded border into East Germany for the second time in three months and was retrieved after her owner paid $75, police said Wednesday.

″It took 10 days for the East Germans to tell us they had a cow from the West and for us to arrange for the owner to cross the border and pick up the cow,″ said West German border police spokesman Eberhard Doll.

He said the cow’s owner had to reimburse the East Germans for the cost of caring for the animal.

Doll said the cow, Elsie, belonged to Otto Jaernecke, owner of a farm near the border village of Gartow about 90 miles southeast of Hamburg.

On July 15, Elsie apparently swam across the Elbe River into East Germany and was seized by East German sentries, Doll said.

Jaernecke, 63, drove over the frontier last Friday and got Elsie back after paying $75 in reimbursement and $2.50 for an East German visitor’s visa, Doll said.

″The East Germans said the 150 mark ($75) charge was for accrued costs of caring for the cow. They said, for instance, that it was examined for sickness,″ Doll said.

Elsie also wandered into East Germany in late May, forcing Jaernecke to retrieve her and pay a fine.

Jaernecke was away from his house Wednesday and unavailable for comment, but his wife, Margot, told The Associated Press that Elsie’s antics had won the couple new friends.

″My husband picked up the cow from a lovely young couple with three children who took care of Elsie over there,″ said Mrs. Jaernecke, 64.

″Since this was the second time (that Elsie wandered), they laughed a lot. My husband was treated to coffee and two slices of wonderful blueberry cake, and then he went home.″

Mrs. Jaernecke said Elsie’s traveling days are numbered because she is scheduled for slaughter in the fall.

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