With the confiscation of the former Wehrmacht kasernes by the U.S. Forces in 1945, the politically new contact of Augsburg’s oldest building contractor, “Familie Deurer”, with the U.S. neighborhood began at the Northern area of what was later to become Sheridan Kaserne. During decades of their American vis-à-vis there were not only trucks, jeeps, battle tanks and howitzers driving noisily and obviously on Stadtberger Straße in Pfersee. Just as the nearby inn “Zum Schlößle”, later and even now known as the legendary “Last Chance”, was a hotspot for U.S. soldiers with German girls that contributed to the awareness at contractor Deurer. And there were “Amischlitten” * galore, putting life into the local street scene.
Contact with the Americans was by no means negative for the Deurer family. In a later interview, Annemarie Deurer told that she experienced the American soldiers in the 1950s as benevolent. There were e.g. Pfersee kids invited into the kasernes on Thanksgiving Day where they were pampered with food and gifts. Unforgettable for her was her attendance at an American church service where she was allowed to sing with the choir of her class. The easy living of the U.S. soldiers was fascinating as well as strange for the children. The American military world around the Deurer house was everyday life for the family. Almost inevitable was that the employees of the contractor liaised with Americans.
After the U.S. base closure in 1998, the military areas were on disposition for conversion. The by now fifth and sixth generation of the Gregor Deurer GmbH & Co took their chance to initiate living quarters that, although not bringing the fast Euro, were able to fulfil their social concerns of integration, inclusion and sustainability. At Reese Barracks they accomplished this, inter alia, by the construction of 153 so called Social Residential Construction for Rent. A three-stage income related allocation of the dwelling units allowed the utilization of development funds of the Federal Republic and the Freistaat Bayern. Trustworthy, reasonable loans by their principal banks supported the contractor’s thirst for action. A student contest at Augsburg’s University of Applied Sciences provided design guidelines for the physical environment, thus involving the young generation’s intrinsic integration. The inhabitants of the dwelling units were to be selected Independent of their income and should include several generations.
On June 22, 2016, the Deurer family celebrated the grand opening of their modern dwelling units, named “Reese Paradise 1+2” **. The decade long contact with U.S. troops induced manager Dr. Markus Deurer to connect the celebrations with the memory of the American military. This lead obviously to a question to the Amerika in Augsburg e.V. Society, and so it was only a small step that the Society could present itself by calling back the military past of the Reese area. Dr. Deurer supported the necessary organizational requirements in a commendable manner.
The highest ranking political guest was Bavarian Staatssekretär (Parliamentary Secretary) Johannes Hintersberger wo also emphasized the activities of the AiA Society in his welcoming speech. The social engagement of firm Deurer was noted in the speech of Stadtpfarrer (priest) Groll of Kriegshaber’s St. Thaddäus parish, Reese Barracks having been an always insuperable, strange barrier between the city districts Kriegshaber and Pfersee in the South for a long time.
* During the early years of the U.S. presence, “Amischlitten” or “Straßenkreuzer” were colloquial German expressions for the big US limousines.
** Derived from the New Zealand Metrosideros excelsa / Pohutukawa tree, blossoming around Christmas. Since a few decades also a very popular tree on the coast of California.
Management, politics and finance were presenting themselves in front of the marquee’s entrance. From left: Dr. Walter Eschle (Stadtsparkasse Augsburg), Hubert Deurer, Johannes Hintersberger (Parliamentary Secretary), Dr. Markus Deurer, Jürgen Schmid (Stadtrat) (Councilor), MdL (Member of Parliament) Harald Güller. In the background (middle) Max Weinkamm (Stadtrat).
The attending representatives of AiA Society: Heinz Strüber, Max Lohrmann, Rick Cervenka, Gerhard Rankl, Georg Feuerer, Thomas Dollrieß (from left).
Heinz Strüber (right) was Chief/Engineering Services Br., EP&S Div., Directorate of Engineering & Housing (DEH) from 1976 thru 1992. The DEH spent remarkable U.S. Government funds for maintenance, repair and modernization of the U.S. facilities. After the city-planned demolition of the kaserne buildings, Dr. Markus Deurer and his family enterprise engaged in a new chapter of urban development of the former Reese Barracks, the conversion. Both experts presented themselves for a joint photo in front of the historical changes. Old times, new times.
All photos: Amerika in Augsburg e.V. Society.
Translations: Heinz Strüber