Auf Wiedersehen–We’ll Miss You!

For us military families, we don’t often think about the place we have left, until years later, in a little bit of a melancholy and reminiscence, we decide to go back to see where we used to live.

We drive up and down the military installations streets and say,  “Oh look! There is our old house” or “Wow! This place has improved,” or “This place hasn’t changed a bit” –in some cases that s true, but  often our old home– our old American “village” in some foreign land has transformed itself into something almost unrecognizable.

We think about the installation in terms of us: we lived here– we were part of this– but we don’t often think about the impact on the civilian population who lived around the installation.

This was brought home to me not too long ago when Dr Karin Pohl from Munich, Germany contacted me about an exhibit she was making in Munich about the American service members, families and students who had lived and worked in the Munich military and college communities.  For 40+ years Americans had lived alongside the Germans, and in many cases, had never interacted with them.

For the most part, many citizens of Munich had no idea what was going on behind the walls at McGraw Kaserne and in Perlacher Forest.  in 2012, an exhibit called “Amis in Giesing examined the American Presence in Munich. It was the first time many Munich residents had had an opportunity to learn about a very large part of their community history.

University of Maryland, Munich Campus--Men's dorms (4 buildings - note roof lines) and a corner of the HQ building as seen from Soyerhofstrasse.  The dorms formed part of the Kaserne wall.  The doors were sealed off from this side so the dorms could only be accessed from inside the Kaserne. Photo: Kent Price

University of Maryland, Munich Campus–Men’s dorms (4 buildings – note roof lines) and a corner of the HQ building as seen from Soyerhofstrasse. The dorms formed part of the Kaserne wall. The doors were sealed off from this side so the dorms could only be accessed from inside the Kaserne.
Photo: Kent Price

As a brat, I was born in Evreux France, grew up in Karlsruhe, Germany, went to college at the University of Maryland’s Munich campus. I taught at the DoD schools in Heidelberg, Germany, Bad Hersfeld, Germany, Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station in Puerto Rico, and at a half-dozen schools across the States.

Almost of my schools are gone. The hospital I was born in, is now a nursing home… Karlsruhe post has been turned over to the German people –it doesn’t look like it used to; Roosevelt Roads base has closed. My childhood home “on the Economy” has been repurposed into a medical clinic.

I don’t have any roots where I can take my grand kids back to and say, “Hey– here’s I where I graduated high school. I can’t go back for the Homecoming football game, fling open the door is to my alma mater and say ,”Hey I graduated from here in 1979– I’m here to show my grand kids my old homeroom.”

Recently the post in Heidelberg closed its doors. This is a short video clip by Joel Wasko that tells the emotions, the impact, the memories, the happiness and the sorrow both the German and the American community feel about the loss of a post.

Even though I was only part of the Heidelberg community for a short time, I too, can say, “Ich hab mein Herz in Heidelberg Verlohren”

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One Comment on “Auf Wiedersehen–We’ll Miss You!”

  1. elizabeth says:

    Can someone tell me whether there was ever a fire at the US Army hospital at Perlacher Forst?


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