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Baumholder Training Area under the Wehrmacht


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#1 gwb123

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 07:02 PM

If you served in Germany during the Cold War, there was a good chance you were at Baumholder for range firing or stationed there.  Even today, it reportedly has the largest concentration of US Army troops in Europe.

 

The main portion of the post is dominated by barracks and architecture that dated back to 1938 when the post was created.  The German Army in modern times was actually housed in more up to date (and more comfortable!) housing on the far side of the base.  Our troops lived and worked in what the Facilities Engineers referred to as "Thousand Year Buildings".

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#2 gwb123

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 07:06 PM

But of course, we were ever mindful that there had been previous occupants. 

 

In the barracks there were niches in the hallways which I finally figured out were the right size to fit an upright 98K Mauser.

 

Paint would wear off of stairwells revealing words in German beneath them.

 

A mess hall was there with a large swastika inlaid into the outer wall.

 

And anytime there was digging on the post, there was always the chance that unexploded munitions or Allied bombs would be dug up.

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#3 gwb123

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 07:10 PM

Construction of the base and training areas began in 1938.

 

"The Third Reich needed a training area and Baumholder was picked. The German government appropriated 29,158 acres and resettled about 842 families from 14 villages to clear the land for use by the Third Reich."

 

https://www.globalse.../baumholder.htm

 

The town of Baumholder itself was spared and is adjacent to the base, both then and now.  The good citizens of the town have learned to live with the soldiers of Germany, France and the United States on its door step and in their midst.

 

 

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#4 gwb123

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 07:13 PM

There are a number of photos that seem to show a "grand opening" celebration when the post was opened.

 

It apparently had all of the pomp and ceremony that the Wehrmacht generate at the time.

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#5 gwb123

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 07:16 PM

At Baumholder, the reconstructed German Army practiced the new doctrines of mechanized warfare.

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#6 gwb123

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 07:18 PM

And of course, armored warfare.

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#7 gwb123

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 07:21 PM

These uniforms are a bit of a mystery.  It is known that Rommel trained the leadership of his Afrika Korps there, and this may be some of them.  (And yes, there is a guest house there where Rommel was quartered, and later used by the Americans as guest quarters.)

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#8 gwb123

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 07:25 PM

Supposedly Germany's post WWI build up of its armed forces was done in secret... It may have been secret from the Allies, but the Germans were certainly aware of it.

 

The postcard roughly translates to "Greetings from Troop Training Area Baumholder". 

 

The Americans would later use the phrase "Greetings from Sunny Baumholder" (actually more known for being so overcast that WWII bombers could not locate it!"

 

The period photos actually were shared on the Facebook page for "8th Infantry Division Veterans" by Edwin Thompson.

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#9 gwb123

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Posted 24 October 2018 - 07:30 PM

While the uniforms changed, the buildings and the landscape did not.  Anyone who served there would recognize it even from photos from the 1930's.

 

I know I would... after two and a half years as permanent party and mostly with the 708th Maintenance Bn.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this view back in time.

 

 

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#10 irish

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 03:32 AM

Thanks for posting these photos. My memories of Baumholder were many days and nights in the field and poor weather.

The wash rack we used for the guns “mud was ever present in the field” had a gasthaus across the road from it. The owner told me one day that it really was not much different from when the Germans used it to wash there tracked vehicles.

On the bright side it was a great location to start trips to other parts of Western Europe.

#11 gwb123

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 03:04 PM

Thanks for posting these photos. My memories of Baumholder were many days and nights in the field and poor weather.

The wash rack we used for the guns “mud was ever present in the field” had a gasthaus across the road from it. The owner told me one day that it really was not much different from when the Germans used it to wash there tracked vehicles.

On the bright side it was a great location to start trips to other parts of Western Europe.

 Oh, most definitely a great launching point for travel in Europe.  Depending which direction you went you were two hours from France, Luxembourg City, or Belgium.  It was not far from an Autobahn which opened up all of Germany as well.

 

I think I remember that gasthaus.  Is that the one that had served food at lunch time as well.  I think we just called the gasthaus the Washrack whenever we talked about getting away from the dining facility.



#12 irish

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 05:23 PM

Oh, most definitely a great launching point for travel in Europe.  Depending which direction you went you were two hours from France, Luxembourg City, or Belgium.  It was not far from an Autobahn which opened up all of Germany as well.
 
I think I remember that gasthaus.  Is that the one that had served food at lunch time as well.  I think we just called the gasthaus the Washrack whenever we talked about getting away from the dining facility.

Yes I believe that is the one. It did serve lunch. They used to have a bench out front that I could sit in while the vehicles were being cleaned. At times some older German civilians would sit outside and watch. As an attached medic I did not have to participate in the cleaning. It could be quite lengthy depending on who got there first. A bit of jockeying on the way in to try and hit it first, other wise you had to wait. Good memories.

Edited by irish, 25 October 2018 - 05:35 PM.


#13 irish

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 05:45 PM

A few other things that come to mind is the sound of tank tracks and self propelled arty tracks on the road. They would clatter and screech until off base and on to the unpaved paths into the field. Quite a sound and sight moment. As well the smell of diesel exhaust on a cold morning. Whenever I smell it even today it takes me back.

Edited by irish, 25 October 2018 - 05:50 PM.


#14 gwb123

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 06:30 PM

I was given temporary quarters in a BOQ that backed up to the tank trail.

 

About a night later a German panzer regiment moved out for training ... at 3 am in the morning.

 

That is when I sought quarters elsewhere.  I had never heard anything so loud in my life short of an artillery barrage (range firing, not the real thing).



#15 gwb123

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 07:24 PM

A little bit closer view of one of the photos.

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#16 bobgee

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 08:01 PM

Great post!



#17 Proud Kraut

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 11:57 AM

Living 10 km away from Baumholder I really enjoyed this thread. Thanks for posting all these pictures!



#18 Rakkasan187

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Posted 30 October 2018 - 02:55 PM

Great post. I went to PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course) in Baumholder in 1987. As I recall the NCO Academy was on a hilltop overlooking the countryside. There was also I think a golf course in the area. I didnt get the chance to venture off post during my schooling and only remember the bus ride to and from the train station to the school and back..

 

Great before and after shots..

 

Leigh 



#19 Proud Kraut

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 05:04 AM



Great post. I went to PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course) in Baumholder in 1987. As I recall the NCO Academy was on a hilltop overlooking the countryside. There was also I think a golf course in the area. I didnt get the chance to venture off post during my schooling and only remember the bus ride to and from the train station to the school and back..

 

Great before and after shots..

 

Leigh 

 

Leigh,

 

1987 must have been the time when Baumholder was the garrison of 8th Infantry Division's elements, right? I'm asking because I would like to narrow down the timeframe the depicted 8 th InfDiv NCO Academy`s patch was worn. Do you remember seeing this patch (on the left) when being there?

 

Lars

 

8th id.jpg



#20 irish

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 05:40 AM

8th Infantry Division elements were at Baumholder as early as 1974 which is when I was stationed there.

#21 Proud Kraut

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 07:38 AM

8th Infantry Division elements were at Baumholder as early as 1974 which is when I was stationed there.

 

May I ask what unit you served with?



#22 irish

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 07:56 AM

May I ask what unit you served with?


1st Bn of the 83rd Field Artillery. The road our barracks sat on was also the road the NCO academy was located on just further down the way. Before you came to the NCO academy you would pass the area belonging to the 1st Bn of the 2nd field Artillery or 1/2 Arty or Half Arty as it was most often referred to.

#23 Proud Kraut

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Posted 09 December 2018 - 10:06 AM



1st Bn of the 83rd Field Artillery. The road our barracks sat on was also the road the NCO academy was located on just further down the way. Before you came to the NCO academy you would pass the area belonging to the 1st Bn of the 2nd field Artillery or 1/2 Arty or Half Arty as it was most often referred to.

 

Ah, DivArty, right?  I recently did some research on the 175 mm M 107 and saw one of the most impressive pictures of a firing M 107 on 1/83 Field Arty's website. Attached some more Baumholder related insignia I found over the last years.

 

Lars (also a RedLeg)

 

BHo.jpg



#24 gomorgan

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 06:42 AM

I think your last picture tells it all, you standing next to the Welcome Housing sign and in your lined rain jacket, mine is still hanging in the garage from all so many years ago.  Good post and lots of memories...George



#25 Proud Kraut

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 11:49 AM

I received this very interesting picture showing the main gate of Training Area Baumholder Lager (camp) Aulenbach. The picture was taken in the late 1950's. I'm still unsure about the exact designation of the vehicle. First thought was dummy-tank but then I remembered the driving-school unit that was and still is garrisoned in BH. Maybe a driving-school tank?

 

BH LA.jpg

 

 




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