Guten tag from Germany! At the prompting of some friends I have decided to start a blog to document our adventure for the next 2-3 years. So let me do some retelling of events for those of you who need to catch up. :)
Brian arrived in Germany on January 22 and Luke and I joined him this past Wednesday, the 6th of February. While Luke and I were still in Nashville, Brian obtained his German driver's license, bought a used BMW and got us a great house. Luke and I had quite an adventure on the way over to Germany, which started on a Monday, continued on Tuesday and finally ended on Wednesday when we arrived into Munich safe and sound. I am still slightly jetlagged but Luke, however, has been a great sleeper since the second night. (oh wait, silly me, how could i forget last night when the crazy child wouldn't go to bed and when he finally did he woke up back up crying hysterically to go on the couch? i am telling myself last night was a fluke and i'll have my perfect sleeper back by tonight and don't you try to tell me any different - this is how i keep my sanity).
Anyways...Brian took Luke and I up to Grafenwohr Army Base (a little over an hour away from where we live) so we could check out the PX and commissary there. Hohenfels (our army base) is smaller with smaller facilities, although it really does have almost anything you could ask for. They take really good care of their soldiers here. The drive to Grafenwohr was amazing, little villages and towns dotted the farmlands and the rolling hills. It was a beautiful sunny day and I, of course, took gobs of pictures (although 40 or so pictures really isn't gobs by my standards, just my husbands).
And now it is time for your history lesson...
"In 1907, Prince Luitpold, regent of Bavaria, selected Grafenwohr as the place best suited for the Bavarian Army. Throughout WWI, the training area was used for the training and re-equipping of combat units. After the end of the war, the Berlin High Command utilized Grafenwohr for the 100,000 man German army. The American era began after the last German commander of the training area surrendered on April 20, 1945..." (taken from Getting Around in USAREUR 9th edition)
During the German High Command occupation, Hilter would make visits to Grafenwohr to review and inspect his army. Apparently he would watch them high from a tower which still stands today and I, of course, snapped a couple pictures of it as well. :)
THE TOWER AT GRAFENWOHR AND OFFICER HOUSING ON GRAFENWOHR
The history of Hohenfels is just as rich as Grafenwohr. The first original settlers of Hohenfels date back to 3500 BC. However, the area we know as Hohenfels today remained unexplored, a blank spot on Herodot's map and on the maps of Syrian and Roman tradesmen until Caesar led his armies over the Alps in order to subjugate the Celtic tribes between the Alps and on the Danube around 15 BC.
There are bits and pieces of historical information up until around 800 AD where historical accounts start picking up and we know more about the land and the people who ruled.
In 936 AD, Count Graf von Hohenfels began to expland his territory around Hohenfels and he built a castle with 2 towers that could see the castle tower in Parsberg and the castle in Kastl so that they occupants could send smoke signals and warn each other of any danger. While von Hohenfels thought that his territory was expanding, it was actually becoming less important as a German Empire and the nobelsmen of Hohenfels started engaging in local feuds which, along with the the Robber Knights of Hohenfels, led to the downfall of Hohenfels as a prospering town.
Skipping ahead 1000 years...
Until 1933 the area of Hohenfels was one of the most neglected parts of Bavaria and of Germany. The people of Hohenfels receieved new hope brought in by none other than Adolf Hilter. Under Nazism, their situation improved - irrigation was brought to the valley and by the mid 1930's Hohenfels Training Area was being established - all which brought in many workers and much money into the Hohenfels economy. After the autumn of 1939, prisoners of war were held at Hohenfels - mostly British, Polish, Belgium, Yugoslavian and American. On April 22, 1945, the American Army entered the training area with 9 tanks which ended the imprisionment of the remaining 7,000 British noncombatants and the 300 American soldier POWs. There was no resistance from the German side, the "Adolf Hilter Corps" left without a fight the night before the tank invasion and there were only a few weak units remaining. In May of 1945, after Hohenfels was secured, the base became a place for displaced persons (mostly former internees of the concentration camps). By July, a total of 13,000 dispalced persons, including Poles, Jews and Ukrainians, were at the base. By the Spring of 1949, the displaced person camp was dissolved. In 1951, the US forces claimed the area for military training purposes and requested expansion to the west which was approved and once again brought in contractors and money and the Hohenfels area began to prosper once again. Since 1956, Hohenfels Training Area has been used by NATO Forces, primarily American, German, Canadian and occasionally British and French forces.
End history lesson. Whew! There is actually a 13 page packet about the history of Hohenfels that I read last night but I gave you all the cliffnote version. I didn't realize that Hohenfels was an international training facility and that explains why the security checkpoints are so well, secure and numerous and high tech. It is pretty impressive.
I have so much more to learn about the area but that's what I know so far. Now I need to conquer the actual base and find out where everything is and maybe get some small history (as well as German) lessons.
I'll end on that and post a bunch of pictures from our jouney to Grafenwohr, along with a few from our walk up the hill to Parsberg for dinner (from our house it is about a half mile). I'll have to take pictures of the Hohenfels area soon. And today, we took a day trip to Regensberg (AMAZING) and saw Dom St. Peter and the Danube River and ate brats with sauerkraut. I'll post all about it later today or tomorrow. And on Tuesday we are off to Garmisch for 5 days - so you'll receive yet another lesson, and pictures, about another German city. The fun is just beginning!!
PICTURES OF PARSBERG - CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE GASTHOF WHERE WE ATE DINNER