Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Aufwiedersehen Zweibrucken

Aufwiedersehen is a wonderful way to say adios or goodbye. So many wonderful memories come flooding back when I read this word.

On 18 March 1945, Zweibruecken (which means two bridges in German) was first occupied by American Troops. Three months later, by the end of June 1945, the French Garrison took over the Kaserne, the German word for fort or base. The four buildings were restored and named Turenne Kaserne. In 1953, the French Garrison was transferred to Niederauerbach Kaserne and in turn, Kreuzberg was restored and enlarged by American troops. After completion of the project, Kreuzberg Kaserne became the Personnel Replacement Center of the U.S. Army Europe and as an Army brat was my home from 1960 through 1964.

In 1957, additional buildings were erected and the first (German Army) Bundeswehr unit, the 914th Transportation Battalion, moved in. In February 1959, the Transportation Battalion was transferred to Niederauerbach Kaserne and the 931st Transportation Battalion moved into the German part of Kreuzberg Kaserne. I can still remember the German troops singing as they marched through the housing area very early in the mornings.

When I left in 1964 it was called Turenne Kaserne. I don't recall any notification that the name was changed to Kreuzberg Kaserne and the reason for my confusion. Imagine the name of your hometown being changed while you were away.

Inevitably, all those military installations in occupied Europe would eventually be vacated and lapse into ghost towns. The properties reverted back to German control and many buildings on those sites were demolished and new establishments built.

The closest thing to a pub to our housing development was the Jagerhof where many of us had our first pizza and beer. While we were not supposed to drink if we were not 21, not much monitoring was done in those days and for the most part, everything was kept pretty tame. The Jagerhof

Coming of Age in Zweibrucken is a book now available from Amazon and describes my experiences living in Europe during the Cold War.