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Americans leave their hearts in Heidelberg [US Army leaving]
The Local (Germany) ^ | 4 Jun 13 11:08 CET

Posted on 06/08/2013 7:27:08 PM PDT by DeaconBenjamin

Americans have had a love affair with Heidelberg since Mark Twain visited the city. Matthew Luxmoore reports on the impact of the US Army's imminent withdrawal after 68 years.

The volunteer wearing the lion costume demonstrated impressive endurance, as he sat for an hour and a half with a plastic crown on his head before a packed gymnasium still humid from the rain that had only just stopped falling outside.

But someone had to do it. The symbol of the Heidelberg High School and the mascot of its many sports teams is embedded deeply in the hearts of its graduates, something made clear by the effect principal Kevin Brewer’s repeated shouts of “We are Lions!” had upon the audience he addressed.

The closing of the school after nearly seven decades was the first in a series of sombrely celebratory events accompanying the closure of the US Army Europe (USAREUR) headquarters in Heidelberg.

Brewer, who will finish his career at a small school in England’s Yorkshire Dales where he started as a teacher 25 years ago, was emotional.

“When we close our doors the community will change. We’ve been ambassadors for America in Heidelberg for all these years. People will miss us. We’re better off having lived here and those whose lives we touched are better off as well,” he said.

A sendoff in style

Heidelberg is seeing the Americans off in style, bringing to an end a relationship which began in 1945 when US troops entered the city and occupied a Wehrmacht base, today known as Campbell Barracks, on its southern outskirts.

The US headquarters are set to relocate to nearby Wiesbaden, as part of a larger effort to cut the number of American military personnel in Europe from 62,000 to 24,000 by 2015.

USAREUR Command Chaplain David Moran, a former HDHS student in the 1970s who led those present in a prayer commemorating graduates who had died serving in Iraq, said he understood why Washington was consolidating US bases in Europe.

“It’s sad, I will really miss this school. But it makes more sense to have bases closer together, sharing in the mission with Nato as opposed to running things in post-war Germany. It’s a natural expectation,” he said.

Baden-Württemberg Garrison Command Sergeant Major Kenneth Kraus believes it will take time for the local German community to grasp the change.

“A time will come when many of them will miss us. Throughout the 68 years we’ve been here I think we’ve constantly effected positive change. There’s a rich and strong heritage in Heidelberg and US ties with the community are strong. It’s like having a cousin,” he said.

Many lives have indeed been touched by the American presence in Heidelberg, with the US Army having employed a large number of citizens from the local community.

Cultural and economic impact

Heidelberg Mayor Eckart Würzner said schemes are in place to assist former employees in finding work. Many are retiring while others have been relocated to bases in Wiesbaden and Kauserslautern.

The impact of the departure will be mainly economic, he said, with a drop in petrol and energy consumption among the effects expected.

“We predict a loss of about €50 million a year. We’re talking about 20,000 people leaving the region. Heidelberg is a growing and economically stable city so we can overcome this period, but it will of course affect us,” he told The Local.

When asked about his feelings on the departure, Würzner admitted he “really felt sad”.

“After World War II no-one in Heidelberg knew the way into the future. The US Army worked to educate the young generation about how democracy works. It gave Heidelberg a perspective and helped the city get back on its feet and on its way to democracy,” he said.

The opening of an exhibition documenting decades of US involvement on Saturday in Patrick Henry Village, a military complex in southeast Heidelberg, was attended by many local residents who had either worked as US Army employees or have formed personal ties with members of the military.

The 33-year-old high school teacher Stefan Sell, who became involved in the US Army through an American religious group, believed the departure is being greeted by the community at large with “indifference”.

Indifferent Germans?

“Little will change, people will simply get on with their lives. Some former barracks will be freed up to create much-needed accommodation for students, which can only be a good thing. But ties will mainly be broken on a personal level, as some locals have formed friendships with the US soldiers,” he said.

Some controversy has surrounded the American presence in Germany, with anti-war demonstrations in the late 1960s and opposition to the use of German bases to support controversial involvement in Iraq indicative of growing anti-military sentiment across Europe. Several local parties have advocated US withdrawal in their campaigns.

Although some former army facilities will be returned to the city, most will be auctioned off by the state. Alongside a scientific exchange programme, Würzner revealed plans to open a “Peace Center” in Heidelberg to “keep the transatlantic cooperation and the historical democracy movement going.”

But the question for some is how Heidelberg manages to make up for what is seen by many as a loss in prestige.

“This is the biggest single troop withdrawal since the end of World War II. When you go into the Pentagon you see seven flags, and under one of these the word Heidelberg. It was the European Headquarters – that’s now being closed,” he said.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government
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To: twister881

Phv 4- 6 grade here

21 posted on 06/09/2013 12:19:45 AM PDT by djwright (2012 The White House Gets Another Coat Of Shellac)
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To: NVDave

I think you’ve hit on something there. I think we should employ that idea for police here in the US. We’ll keep them inside the police station until a crime is committed. If you can ignore the sheer number of rapes robberies, and murders that will occur because no one is around to detour them, think of the savings.
If there is a war in the mid east or any other potential trouble spot our planes delivering tanks, troops and bullets will pass right over Germany. Only they will have no place to land since you pulled out all the infrastructure to support them.

I suppose you can say we got no business being anywhere in the first place. Being isolationist did not work out very well at Pearl Harbor and things have not improved in our favor since. Bad guys got nukes now, do you think a surprise attack will be less or or more deadly the next time some third world hell hole wants to take your lunch money? What enemy is going to give us a year to move from the US to the front lines this time?

22 posted on 06/09/2013 12:29:17 AM PDT by McCloud-Strife ( USA 1776-2008)
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To: djwright
sorry, should be mtv, 1972-1975.
23 posted on 06/09/2013 12:45:02 AM PDT by djwright (2012 The White House Gets Another Coat Of Shellac)
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To: andyk

Wiesbaden for me, too: 1978-81, Camp Pieri, 1/333d Field Artillery (LANCE). My first child was born in 1980 at the US Air Force Hospital in Wiesbaden and we lived in the Hainerberg Housing Area, near the commissary and the dependent school. My wife was a substitute teacher at the school and we bowled at a German bowling alley near the American Arms, the BOQ/transient quarters.

We went to Heidelberg several times in those years, always stopping at the castle.

24 posted on 06/09/2013 3:32:52 AM PDT by T-Bird45 (It feels like the seventies, and it shouldn't.)
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To: dragnet2

I served at Ray Barracks in the ate 80s, too.

25 posted on 06/09/2013 3:37:46 AM PDT by PhatHead
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To: EarlyBird

Christ Kindle Markt (Crist Child Market)

Munchen (Munich) had the best I had seen in the square below the Glokenspiel. now on the ground, roasting of nuts and all sorts of goodies filled the air from all the small booths. Most memorable were the Christmas ornaments hand-made from straw.

26 posted on 06/09/2013 3:51:15 AM PDT by mazda77
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To: mazda77

Correction - Christkindlemarkt.

My mother was born in Bad Tolz in 1932. Married my father in Oberamagau in 1950. Sister was born in Frankfurt. After a stint at Ft. Bliss (where I was hatched) and two tours of Korea, we went back to Germany. Stuttgart, Kelley barracks.

27 posted on 06/09/2013 3:58:14 AM PDT by mazda77
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To: mazda77

And the mulled wine - the Germans do darned good mulled wine... Wish I could still remember what they called it!

28 posted on 06/09/2013 3:59:03 AM PDT by MortMan (Disarming the sheep only emboldens the wolves.)
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To: MortMan

Same things happened in Yokohama in the 60s. The massive American footprint evaporated and with it went Yo-Hi (later named Nile C. Kinnick High School when the Navy ran everything.) Two large housing areas for military dependents and the commesary-PX complex were turned over to the Japanese government. Today, there’s no trace we were ever there.

29 posted on 06/09/2013 4:53:55 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (NRA Life Member)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
My husband loved serving in Germany. He has some great stories and pictures especially one of him in the snow covered Alps with a leather jacket and a stein loaded with beer. This was the Army!!!! He loved Fulda also.
30 posted on 06/09/2013 5:00:45 AM PDT by angcat
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To: MortMan

will find out. My Mom is still with us and still working.

31 posted on 06/09/2013 5:32:35 AM PDT by mazda77
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To: MortMan

Gluhwein, the nectar of the gods!

32 posted on 06/09/2013 7:36:41 AM PDT by conservative cat
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To: andyk

And Wiesbaden was our hospital/big commissary base! I was too young but my friends’ older siblings high schooled across the river there.

Mainz is becoming more uh diverse with every passing year. We left a vacuum, for sure.

33 posted on 06/09/2013 7:42:16 AM PDT by conservative cat
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To: andyk

Spent 4 years at Zweibrucken. Man, if you couldn’t like Zwei then there was no place overseas you would like.

34 posted on 06/09/2013 11:07:52 AM PDT by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
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To: MortMan

Gluhwein! Umlaut over the letter U.

35 posted on 06/09/2013 11:10:34 AM PDT by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
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To: DeaconBenjamin

The US Army maintained a pretty nice golf course in Heidelberg:

Maybe the CinC can sneak in a few holes before they shut it down.

36 posted on 06/09/2013 11:12:03 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
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To: djwright

This is so sad to hear. I went to MTV elementary for 6th grade and for 7th grade, was at Heidelberg High before the middle school was built in PHV (75-76).

I have great memories of basketball games in the gym, since I lived very close to the high school. Not to mention softball and Girl Scout camps throughout Germany. Dad had 3 other duty stations from 72-74, but Heidelberg was my favorite.

37 posted on 06/09/2013 2:52:36 PM PDT by Apple Blossom (Politicians are like diapers, they both need changed regularly, and for the same reason.)
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To: McCloud-Strife

The GOP war enthusiasts keep pointing to WWII as evidence that “isolationism doesn’t work.”

There would have been no WWII if we hadn’t gotten involved in WWI, and if our brainless prat of a president, Woodrow Wilson, hadn’t come up with his idiotic notions that led to the League of Nations. If we had allowed the Europeans to destroy themselves in WWI without our tipping the balance, they would have had nothing left with which to start WWII.

Police already stop almost no crime, BTW. They show up after the fact and take a report and clean up the bodies. If you need education on their lack of any duty to “protect” individuals, I recommend you read Castle Rock v. Gonzales (2005), a ruling by the US Supreme Court which has settled for once and all the issue of what the police have a duty to do, and it isn’t “stop crime.”

Here’s the bottom line for all those who want a “robust foreign policy:”

We’re broke. The only way to preserve our sovereignty in the very near future will be to cut the budget deficit as quickly and deeply as possible and reverse the absurd fiscal and monetary policies that are causing other nations to dispose of the US dollar as a global reserve currency even now. When the US dollar is no longer the reserve currency, oil will likely no longer be priced in US dollars, and at that point, it’s game over for the US economy.

38 posted on 06/09/2013 5:59:00 PM PDT by NVDave
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