Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Baumholder, Germany

An earlier post here regarding Neubrücke, Germany, where Monique first saw the light, has turned out to be surprisingly popular on Ghulf Genes despite that little town’s absolute obscurity. But the reason for that heavy traffic becomes clear once we know that nearby Baumholder is, and has for many years also been, the largest U.S. military installation outside of the United States. Many, many thousands of people going all the way back to the times when I served there as a soldier know the place. In my day, the late 1950s, Neubrücke was the nearest major army hospital. Now it is part of the vast Baumholder complex and houses its own barracks. Brigitte and I met in Baumholder, so this day may be appropriate to do something I’ve meant to do for a long time: present some pictures of the place.



This, the most lovely photograph of the place, is on Flicker, the work of Susana Alba-McCormick, reproduced here with permission. It shows part of the dependent quarters in moonlight, among them the building where we first made our home in a very spacious apartment; that’s where we brought Monique from Neubrücke as a baby; it is one of the buildings to the right, on Pear Street.


This one, panoramic enough to include the town, shows some of the same buildings from another perspective, some of the barracks, and more, much more, if you imagine moving on to the left of this image. This and the next two images I have courtesy of Bruce Richards (his site is here).

Baumholder is a most curious place. It is home to some 12,000 Americans, of whom 4,400 are military, 6,550 are military family members, 600 are American civil servants, 360 are their family members, and 100 individuals are retired American military people. The post also employs 500 Germans—and Brigitte was one of them in my day. The town itself—you can see one of its church steeples and housing to the right—has 4,600 inhabitants. And since this photograph was taken, massive additional American Military facilities, not least a major hospital, have been built in the town itself.



Here is an old, old picture, taken from the other side across the little lake that serves the town as a recreational facility, showing also the second church—but there are three others yet.



Now two more panoramic shots of which this one shows the size of this facility more clearly, including strings of barracks—one of which I lived in before Brigitte and I became a couple. 



I owe this nice modern shot to a German industrial site which is installing energy-conservation structures in all of the buildings reaching from horizon to horizon, called Pumpen Intelligenz (link).

Not shown is a vastly—and I do mean vastly—greater area, the Baumholder firing range itself. Baumholder is one of two (and the biggest) artillery training regions in Germany, serving now the German and the U.S. Armies—and in my day, in addition, the French military. The insert shows the size of the range. The dot shown on the upper right is the Baumholder airport.

Baumholder had its origins in 1937 when the German military chose to create the facility. The government appropriated 22,000 acres for the purpose and moved 842 families from 14 small villages to create a zone where destruction could be practiced without actually harming anyone. Strange, strange. Here two war-displaced people met. Brigitte had migrated from Poland, by way of what was East Germany, to this place. And I had come from Hungary, but by way first of Germany and then America to be here. We were both secretaries at the time; she was secretary to Baumholder’s Post Commander. I was secretary to the highest ranking officer, the general who commanded the 8th Infantry Division Artillery (DivArty, we called it). Brigitte and I were both engaged in arranging all kinds of contacts with the German communities all around, and naturally had lots of contacts. Nothing propinqs like propinquity—even in  the midst of that other human perennial: destruction.

11 comments:

  1. Say, you got permission to use the lovely shot of Baumholder under the moon light, lovely. And the post itself, very nice.

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  2. My Name Is Nick De Leo I was there in 1978 with the us Army 1/32 infy crazy 8
    i was only 18yrs old and i would love to take my wife there this summer as i am in Afgan.till my R&R thanks for the wonderful pic's

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    1. Welcome, Nick. We were there eighteen years before you. And then, something like another decade later, we went on a visit too. Many things had changed, many had not, and we had a good time. Glad you liked the pictures.

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  3. I WAS STATIONED THERE IN MDS 70S/ LOVE TO GO BACK. ITS BEEN ALMOST 40 YEARS AND SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY. REMEMBER VERY WELL THE LITTLE TOWN AS WELL AS IDAR-O AND ITS CHURCH. THOSE ARE REALLY SOME PICS TO BRING BACK GOOD OLD MEMORIES.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Many, many people have similar memories -- although our day-to-day lives in Baumholder were nothing romantic at all. But memory retains the best -- and lets the rest slide into the shadows.

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    2. I was there from jan 75 till Aug 77,I don't know what that place has, but I still dream that I am back there. My most most presious whish is to take my wife and my children there where I spended a big part of my formation psichologicly and asd a human being. p.d I came streight from mexico, jioned the army ind had great memories from that mistic place. it is why I want to be esqused for my English ortography. this is my second language so long, by the way my e-mail is juanoarreola @hotmail .com

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  4. I was stationed in Baumholder in 1966 to 1968. I was in the 1/13th inf. 8th division. A & HQ cos. I would like to return there someday. I lived off post in the town of Baumholder with German citizens, who were extremely nice to me and my wife. we eventually moved to gov. housing in the housing on the hill. not sure what they were called. great memories.

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  5. I was there from 1966 to 1968. 1/13 inf. A co. 8th inf.div. anyone familiar with these units and dates please contact me.

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  6. Thank you for the pictures. I was stationed there from 1973-1976 with the 1st BN, 87th Infantry. It looks much different than it did.
    JMF

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  7. I was stationed with the 144th Ordnance Detachment and ASP 4 in 1975-1977. I will actually be in Baumholder in about a week ... from August 2nd thru the 3rd. I hope I can still recognize my old barracks ... and find my company. Does ASP4 still exist?

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  8. I was in Baumholder 1973-1975 HHC 1/13 Inf.also 2nd Brigade HQ'S. Drove jeep and sedan for Col. John Gibney. I went back to Baumholder 1978-1981 SVC BTY 1/83 F.A. I was a 64C20. Any one can contact me at charlesbennett52@gmail.com

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