From occupation to allied protection forces: For half a century, the U.S. Army left its mark on the townscape of Augsburg in its very special way. People were accustomed to uniformed GIs of various races, convoys of olive drab vehicles with white star insignia, and columns of rattling tanks and howitzers. The U.S. military presence was on the mind of the citizens everywhere. It also had a permanent place in the daily newspaper. “Amerika in Augsburg” was ubiquitous.
Due to the decade-long East-West confrontation (Cold War Confrontation and threat by the Warsaw Pact states), the vast majority of the population accepted this as inevitable, necessary and almost took it for granted. This transatlantic presence resulted not only in a sense of military security that made life in Western Europe calculable, at the same time it resulted in personal, business, as well as social gain. As in all garrisons, the U.S. Army left its mark, rich in contrasts, on the Augsburg scene. The everyday life of the troops unfolded not only in the wide kaserne areas, but also everywhere in the city and the surrounding areas, in particular during maneuvers. We would like to document this for posterity with reference to specific examples. Especially in the 1950s and 1960s, the presence of the Army blended in a remarkable way with public life in order to be felt positively. The diversity of civil perception was affecting almost all areas of life, while a glimpse across the fence went even a step further.
Today, contemporaries are dealing with that past in very different, personal ways. Marks left are manifold and sometimes sad for the participants. Military-civilian encounters were not always without problems and trying longtime effects. At times, politically influenced circumstances cast a cloud over the partnership. The American soldiers, male and female, made, however, their very own analysis of the temporary stay in Augsburg. And that remained, in most cases, positive for decades.
Public parades, e.g. - as shown - on Armed Forces Day in May 1953, were confidence building for the local national - U.S. Army relationship. The role of victor and occupier gave way to a cooperation that was based on partnership, the presence of the Americans become obvious. The number of street parades of this kind and magnitude however declined later.
In the summer of 1953, the U.S. Army staged a public concert of the 43rd Infantry Division Band and their ‘Winged Victory’ choir at the Freilichtbühne.
During the post war years, German-American relationships also developed via the ‘medium’ children. The soon recognized child-friendliness of the U.S. soldiers as shown here at Haunstetter Straße in 1946 promoted contacts with German families. The large building in the background had been confiscated by the Americans. (Photo: Clifford Briggs).
Left: Washing of a Constabulary M24 Chaffee tank and a Willys jeep in the back of the Fernmeldeamt (telephone exchange) around 1950. The photo shows Constabulary at the perimeter of the Plärrer fair. (Photo: via Reise House). Right: M47 Main Battle tanks on the way back to Sheridan Kaserne, Stadtbergen. On the left newly constructed multiplexes of Cramerton Housing Area. Neighbors of the kasernes could hear the presence of the troops every day thru their windows, as here around 1954. (Photo: Ernst Stromer).
As shown here on the Perlachturm (left) or in front of the Prinzregentenbrunnen (right), you met GIs in civies or uniform during a walk in the city. (Photos: Dillon Prendergast).
During training in rural areas, the appearance of U.S. Forces, here in the 1960s, always was an exciting change in the still pretty plain everyday civil life. Also here, the contact with kids was shown to its fullest advantage. (Screenshots: Big Pictures).
Two 11th Airborne Division parachutists in front of the ‘Lechstüble’, a downtown Augsburg inn, that is still there with a different name. The stay of U.S. soldiers in typical Augsburg inns was not unusual. (Photo: Dillon Prendergast).
If passing tanks in Göggingen, 1965 (left), or loading at the Oberer Schleisweg, at Bärenkeller settlement, ca. 1976 - the defense presence of the U.S. Forces was perceptible everywhere. (Photos: Left: Town Archives Göggingen, right: Thomas Dollrieß).
Contact with the troops took place everywhere: Marching infantry near Gablingen (1959), or with vehicles in the Biburg forest in 1952 (Photos: Left: James Espinoza, right: AiA archives).
During a stroll in the Deuringen forest as here in 1956, you often could meet training soldiers. (Photo: Dillon Prendergast).
Left: A swan feeding GI at the Augsburg Tiergarten, 1960. (Photo: Norman D. Guiling). Right: Restaurants advertised on posters in English in order to attract U.S. soldiers as guests.
Left: A GI and his 1960 Plymouth limousine at Sheridan Kaserne in 1968. (Photo: Maurice Evans). The cars, shipped from the US, were mostly used for leisure trips in and around Augsburg. Right: US cars could always be found everywhere in the Augsburg area, even after the redeployment of the troops in1998. (Photo: AiA archives).
Left: German as well as US manufactured cars of soldiers in front of the Main PX at QM Kaserne, 1970. (Photo: J. Volstadt). Right: For a long time, the green U.S. license plates made cars ‘Made in Germany’ easily identifiable as U.S.-owned, as here in 1976. (Photo: Dan Bower).
German-American traffic problems regularly resulted in local newspaper headlines as shown here in the 1970s.
Howitzers and Tracked Cargo Carriers on a training march through Göggingen. (Photo: G. Mayer).
M60 Patton Main Battle Tanks of the 3rd 63rd Armor Regiment on Bürgermeister-Ackermann-Straße in 1982. The width of the lanes had been constructed to match those of the tanks and thus indicated the intended long-term U.S. presence. (Photo: Kevin Dasing).
View from a balcony: An 8in Self-Propelled Howitzer M110 passing through Pfersee to Sheridan Kaserne. (Photo: Steve McDonald).
Air Ambulance medical helicopters were always perceptible during mission flights as well as at public events. Left: At Flak Kaserne in 1981. Right: At Haunstetten sports-field in 1991. (Photo: Andreas Liebau).
Reforger* Exercises caused unexpected traffic situations and sometimes even tragic accidents, often resulting in casualties, in the Augsburg Landkreis area. (Photo left: Brad Reder, 1976; right: AiA archives). *Return of Forces to Germany
Exercise accidents often caused considerable personnel and material damages, especially for the U.S. forces, often however also for civilian vehicles as well as public-private institutions and structures. (Article: Augsburger Allgemeine).
Participation in the autumnal Plärrer Fair Parades was of course an obligatory matter during the years of a strong U.S. presence, as shown here on the Ulrichsplatz in 1986. (Photo: Dwight C. Baca).
The leisure sports activities of the American youth was always catching the attention of Augsburg’s public, either in the Housing Areas (left) or during contests as in the city in 1991 (Photo right: Michael Leary).
Left: Only on closer inspection, passing by Augsburgers could recognize the English speaking GIs during their leisure activities, as here on Königsplatz in the late 1980s. (Photo: private). Right: German-American weddings like here in 1984 at the Centerville Chapel were characteristic of the garrisons. (Photo: private).
German speaking guys in front of a strange yellow US truck: Local Nationals working with a special sewer-service vehicle in the Housing Areas, here in Sullivan Heights. (Photo: Directorate of Engineering and Housing, DEH).
Olive drab colored school buses were a usual sight in Augsburg’s streets for a long time, as here in 1985. (Photo: Don Childers).
At the former TSV Kriegshaber gymnasium, quite a few U.S. soldiers listened to the country music of the South States in the late 1980s. At first named “Redneck Brothers”, the music inn was soon renamed “Silver Dollar”. Apart from the usual bar and inn business a somewhat different leisure culture was cherished. (Photo: Michael Leary).
On Armed Forces Day, the U.S. Army presented their latest weapons as late as in May 1991. Left: A Patriot Missile Air-Defense System in front of the High School, right a 8in Self-Propelled Howitzer M110. Events with public appeal like this committed the presence of the U.S. Army to the memory of the public until the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Photo AiA archives).