When on May 12, 1945, American servicemen stayed in the garden of a villa in the heart of the city, WW II had just ended for four days. In this garden stood, among others, two congressmen, together with the commander of the victorious Seventh Army, Lieutenant General Alexander M. Patch and the commander of the 45th Infantry Division, Major General Robert T. Frederick, ready for a ceremonial act.
LTG Alexander M. Patch was evidently in Augsburg during the first weeks of May, especially as the headquarters of the Seventh Army were located in Stadtbergen for two months. Patch was also involved in the further treatment of former important Nazi figures. It was even intended to name an area of Sheridan Kaserne for him. In the garden villa in the Stadtjägerviertel (-quarter), probably just confiscated, his presence was due to a completely different matter. Here, the then youngest U.S. general and, with eight times, the most wounded U.S. soldier of WW II, Robert Tryon Frederick, at that time just 38 years old, established with his Thunderbird Division in Munich, was to be honored with the Legion of Merit with bronze oak leave clusters, The division which he had taken over in December of 1944 had suffered very heavy losses and fatalities during its advance to South Germany. Frederick had been successfully leading several special service forces since the landing in North Africa. Patch was regarded as a prudent Army chief, quite contrary to his go-getting comrade-in-arms Patton of the Third U.S. Army.
For Augsburg, the war had ended on April 28, the liberation from the NS regime being carried out by the Third Infantry Division of Patch’s Seventh Army. Frederick’s 45th Infantry Division moved into Munich the following day, together with the 3rd Infantry Division. There, a battalion commander of the 157th Infantry Regiment, LTC Felix Sparks, received the order to drive on to Dachau. With about 600 soldiers Sparks reached the local concentration camp. No soldier, not even Sparks, anticipated what was waiting for them. The situation of found horrors induced several soldiers to lynch remaining soldiers of the Wehrmacht; this was, however, immediately stopped by Sparks. Nevertheless, he could not at all prevent the execution of about 30 German SS soldiers.
Spark’s men of the 3rd Battalion subsequently liberated more than 30,000 prisoners with units of the 42nd Infantry Division. Reports as well as at least one photo proof the presence of Major General Frederick at the Dachau concentration camp and with it his 45th Division as the liberation division. A memorial plaque has been erected to the 42nd Infantry Division Rainbow at the present memorial site.
A DC-3 of the U.S. Air Force with two government officials who were to attend Major General Fredericks decoration, landing on the Haunstetten Airfield. (Photo: Screen Shot U.S. Army).
Congressmen Derkson and Young leaving the aircraft, welcomed by Augsburg U.S. military. (Photo: Screen Shot U.S. Army).
In the garden of the city villa, May 12, 1945. From left: Congressman Derkson, LTG Patch, MG Frederick, congressman Young. Far right CPT Bartlett. (Photo: U.S. Army).
LTG Patch pins the Legion of Merit medal on Frederick’s tunic. Far right, congressman Young watching the ceremony. (Photo: Screen Shot U.S. Army).
The villa in the heart of the city, very close to the Military Government of Augsburg city and Swabia. (Photo: private).
Augsburg, July 2019
Via email we received a request from Wisconsin, USA. A Mr. Hicks let us know that he was a grandchild of Division Commander Robert T. Frederick. He had added a few photos of a medal award ceremony with LTG Patch. On one of these also the backside of an unknown villa could be seen. Mr. Hicks intended to come to Germany and especially to Augsburg in search of the house of the award ceremony by the end of August. At first, this seemed to be a hopeless endeavor.
Thus, Amerika in Augsburg e.V. society started to search on Google maps for a certain house with a hipped roof in the whole conurbation of Augsburg. Of course there were centers known for American confiscations. However, the “Villa Frederick” had evidently been used only during the very first post war days and therefore was not registered by the official city authorities (as these were not yet existing).
With the help of a few prominent features, AiA finally succeeded to locate with high probability the house plus garden prior to the arrival of the American grandchild. The appointment was scheduled for August 25. We met at the presumed villa which had been recently renovated as well as partially altered on the backside. This made the identification with the photo from 1945 more difficult. Furthermore, the house was unoccupied. In the end, we succeeded with the help of a neighbor to confirm the authenticity of the 1945 villa, as the house had looked almost unchanged until recently. How delightful for the American and what a success of his genealogy!
MG Frederick, the 45th Infantry Division and their liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, his decoration by the more or less incidentally present general Patch, the almost hopeless location search of a grandchild - all of this occupied more than 70 years later a society concerned with the review of Augsburg’s American history. Frederick probably stayed only a few hours in Augsburg before returning to Munich. Mr. Hicks drove the very same day on to the Dachau memorial, where the local head received him for a conversation.
(Note: MG Frederick’s 45th Infantry Division was, together with the 3rd Infantry Division under MG W. O’Daniel, involved in the heavy Nürnberg fighting from April 16 to 20, 1945. A week later, O’Daniel’s 3rd Division marched into Augsburg).
August 25, 2019. Site visit of both AiA society chairmen, Georg Feuerer (l.) and Max Lohrmann (r.), in the middle Mr. Hicks at the destination of his location search. (Photo: Amerika in Augsburg e.V.).
(We would like to express our thanks to Brad Hicks for his photographical support).
Translation: Heinz Strüber