Images of Bavaria 1973

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It is hard to believe, but it has been 40 years since I was here. WW2 was over for 28 years when I was there. At the time, the Army ran about 5-6 hotels, seized from the Nazis, that were open to any serviceman.

Room rate was based on rank, and as an E4 I think I was paying about $4 per night. I was making the princely sum of $400/month. When I had some leave time available (and when my Sgt & CO said it was OK to go) – I’d hop a train for a few days.

All of these hotels are to my understanding gone now – all turned over to the Bavarian government. In the case of the General Walker at Berchtesgaden, it was razed. The bombed out garage, and the remains of Hitler’s house, are long gone.

I decided to show you the good (beautiful), bad (the Nazi Complex) and the ugly (Dachau).

What you see above was, to me, the most beautiful town in Bavaria – Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Site of the 1936 Winter Olympics, you’ll see the ice rink from that time. If you look carefully at the above picture, the sign is pointing to the “Eisstadion” – Ice Stadium.

The Good…

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Here’s the hotel at Garmisch….

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…The Zugspitze – a mountain peak that borders Germany and Austria – the highest mountain in Germany at 2,962 meters

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Neuschwanstein – one of Bavarian Kings –  “Mad Ludwig’s” castle (that Disney modeled)

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The Bad…..

From the 1920s, Hitler and the Nazis liked an area right about Berchtesgaden (about a 10 minute ride up a hill) – “Obersaltzberg” – literally, “Over Salzberg” – one can see the Austrian town of Salzberg from in the distance….Here is a map of the Nazi’s complex – virtually all of it destroyed in the war..

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This was one of the Army’s hotels – the “General Walker” – it was taken over from the Nazis – the former Platterhof – used to house visiting SS I believe.

It was destroyed by the Bavarians when it was returned to them…They didn’t want it to become a shrine to the neo-Nazis.Image

While the following wasn’t a formal tour, if you asked the people at the desk nicely they would let you go downstairs into the entryway of the air raid tunnels – once lined with marble but stripped by the townspeople after the war. This complex connected all the houses of the Nazis such as Goering, Hitler, Goebbels…now just a dark passageway of concrete tunnels…

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All I have on the inscription (of the original slide) was that this was a hotel Hitler used in the 1920s..

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The remains of a bombed-out garage 28 years prior…This was next door to the Platterhoff

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Site of the SS barracksImage

All that remained, in 1973, of Hitler’s House “Der Berghof” – it was bombed, then dynamited by the allies in 1945. But  here it is in 1936. …Image

…an air raid tunnel exit…

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The site of Hermann Goerings House – looking at the  Rosenfeld (note the bomb crater)

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I think the “Eagle’s Nest” – on the “Kehlstein” peak –  – if these old brain cells are functioning, it was built for Hitler as a birthday present and visited exactly twice….memorable for me was the elevator shaft carved out of the granite for 100s of feet . You can just barely see it on the peak.

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Looking in the opposite direction from the Eagles Nest on Mt Kehlstein

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…”an old Hotel For Nazis” – that’s what I write 40 years ago and that’s all I can remember

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…The KonigSee (literally King Lake) outside Berchtesgaden. They had these electric boats that would take you out – the boats had been around since the early 1900s – the guide would blow a horn – and you would listen to the echo back and forth among the mountains – 5-6 times. It was a memorable ride.

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On another trip a Sgt Friend (Al Graffenreid?), and another friend (Steve Connell) got into the Sgt’s Ford Van (with a 351) – blew down the autobahn and some hours later stopped in Munich.

Dachau – I will just present without comment except for the “bunks” you see how they were originally and as the war progressed – just to house sick, emaciated bodies. It was maybe a 20-30 minute drive outside of Munich.

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and the ugly…

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…we stopped at the Olympic Stadium. I think it was less than a year since the terrorist attack and it was an eerie feeling…

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If you go to Munich – it is a fun town – you have to stop at their technical museum. And what post to the Lexicans would be complete without at least a bit of aviation – the first picture is the Me163 Komet – Famed RAF test Pilot Eric Brown toured the Luftwaffe fields after the war and I was impressed by what he had to say Image

If Germany had an answer to the DC3, it had to be the Junkers Ju-52. Affectionately known by her pilots as “Tante Ju” (Auntie Ju (pronounced “You”) It was the familiar trimotor you have seen – here is the interior.

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23 Comments

Filed under Army, Travel

23 responses to “Images of Bavaria 1973

  1. Thank you. A very nice trip down memory lane.

    I lived in Frankfurt & Bremerhaven from 1964 -1966, with travels to Berchtesgaden, the local salt mines and to Herrenchiemsee. On a later backpacking trip through Europe I hiked in and around Schloss Neuschwanstein in 1982. I saw Herrenchiemsee in 1993, along with a sidetrip on the Königssee.

  2. Steve

    Really appreciate you posting those, Bill, an evocative look at the past.

  3. Bitter sweet….the good mixed with the bad.

  4. SoCal Pir8

    Thanks Bill, I really enjoyed the pics and your comments.

  5. Buck

    Well done, Bill. I wish my archives were as complete as yours.

  6. Dust

    Bill,

    Much appreciated. Wish I had taken more pics myself. Visited the Berghof as a kid with my Dad and remember the Gen Walker, the bombed out SS barracks and the tunnel walk to and ride up to Eagle’s Nest in the elevator. Best memories were in the field during the REFORGERs and training out in the MRAs off the Kasernes. Also the time spent up along the GDP east of Bad Hersfeld.

    Dust

  7. virgil xenophon

    Bill/

    We used to have the USAFE tennis tournament in Garmisch every year, so got to know the area well. Our UK team used to get flown over in the CG3rdAFs pvt plane, lol. I’m surprised you didn’t show any pics of the sports complex with the tennis-courts in front of the club-house/hotel. The 36 Olympic ski-jump was off to the left up the hill-side looking back at the club-house from the courts. The used to have a little Gnome-like guy in a purple shirt and Lederhosen who tended the courts for a small salary and 10 litres of beer/day(iirc)–was quite the character who had worked in the Yugoslavian Salt-mines as a youth and spoke 5 languages, would be drunk by end of day and spray players w. water (along with copious drunken cursing in several languages) when watering adj courts (which were clay) lol.

    Fond memories (89-71)

  8. Bill Brandt

    Guys – thanks for the compliments. I have a ton of slides and like most slides they sat in a closet – unseen – and about every decade or 2 would I set up a projector.

    Finally got a Nikon Coolscan and 1 by 1, scanned them into jpegs.

    What a job.

    And what I have discovered was how easy it is to “cut” instead of “copy” and what you thought you had is mysteriously gone.

    So I have come to copy the whole thing – put it into a temp directory and delete what I don’t want to upload.

    Virgil – I remember the ski jumps – actually bought some skis at the PX there and then lugged them back to the barracks never to be used until I was discharged (one of my dumber moves – like buying tax-free booze (6 bottles allowed) and then hauling them half way around the world.

    Dust – I remember those Reforger exercises – when stateside units were flown over for a week/2 for exercises.

    There is so much around there I didn’t see but one had only so much time – I have told people it was an ideal time except for the fact that if I didn’t report back on time I’d be in the stockade!

    Buck – I have always been a fan of photography – as soon as I got overseas I bought a Pentax 35mm at the PX – Agfa film – which included processing – was cheap at the PX – I’d take 10 rolls and go. And edit when I got them back – easily throw away half.

    Of course in all this the Army asked me on my “dream sheet” what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be stationed – I said Japan as a photographer – so they end up sending me to Germany as a radar operator 😉

    Would any of you want to see other pics of mine through the years? I want to try to keep this blog on a military angle as Lex’s blog was but at the same time know I can’t be another Lex.

    I still have a bunch of pics of my time in Germany – including the time I went TDY to Crete to watch a Nike missile launch. I probably have enough of my Germany slides to give you another 10 of these kinds of presentations.

    If some of you guys have pictures of the far east – navy deployments – I for one would love to see them.

    • Buck

      Would any of you want to see other pics of mine through the years? I want to try to keep this blog on a military angle as Lex’s blog was but at the same time know I can’t be another Lex.

      YES. Emphatically YES.

      In response to your “photographer” reply… I’ve been one for years, as well, having bought my first 35mm camera in 1968 (a clunky Yashica viewfinder camera that got the job done) and replaced that with an Olympus OM-1 in 1975. I used that OM-1 extensively in my travels up until about 1999 when I went all-digital. I still have that OM-1; I can’t bear to throw it away.

      That very sad thing is nearly ALL my archives went missing when the ex- and I split the blanket some 15 years ago.

    • Steve

      +1 on wanting to see more pics!

  9. Lois

    Brought back some great memories. Zweibrucken 1973-1975

  10. The actual name of The Eagle’s Nest is the Kehlstein Haus.

    When the Patterhof still stood, they used to have part of the bunker system open and an entrance down the hill to the west of the hotel. It was deteriorating rapidly and where you sued to be able to wander about a quarter mile of passages and rooms in the early 60s, it had been cut down to about 150′ by ’66 when we saw it again.

    The tour of the Salt Mines was obligatory. Chiemsee was nice, and we liked staying there better than in Berchtesgaden. You could take a boat out to Ludwig’s unfinished palace out on the island, as well as swim during the day. We then took the trip to Obersalzberg. I wanted to go to Garmisch as well, but my data wasn’t interested, for some reason.

    I would invite anyone to head over to “Third Reich in Ruins” – http://www.thirdreichruins.com/ The father of the proprietor was in the AAF and took a slew of pics after the war and he has posted a good many on the site. He also has modern views of many of the same places in the ’45- ’46 pics. It’s a truly interesting site.
    .
    When we lived over there the war wasn’t far away. In the late 50s they were still rebuilding, and during the second tour it was common to see disabled troops from the war around on the streets. My brother found a Stahlhelm when we were out on Volksmarsch near Dansenberg where we lived when my father was assigned to Ramstein. A late middle aged German asked where he got it, and then explained what some of the markings on the helmet meant. It was obvious he was a Wehrmacht vet, and he was the first of about 20 I was able to talk with during those three years. It was hard to get SS vets to talk with me, but a couple of them melted for a 14 year old kid who was curious and obviously too young to have anything to do with their defeat.

  11. Bill Brandt

    By the 70s there was one big remnant of the war left – and it took me awhile to figure the “why”. In virtually every public restroom there was usually a late-middle aged woman “attendant” – you would give her a set fee – usually 10-25 pfennigs – – a dime to a quarter at the time – and then you went in.

    I couldn’t figure out this curiosity until someone explained that after the war with so many destitute widows, that was the only way they could etch out a meager living.

    BTW some of the restrooms were clean and some shattered the stereotype of the clean and immaculate German (bathing habits also to be discovered during the summer on public transportation 😉 )

    I will get some more pictures up – and wanted to bring something out in the open that has been bothering me.

    Some on this list saw the worst of things during their service time – death, deprivation, and sacrifice but also courage and honor.

    And it has bothered me showing my essentially European travelogue – all due to a bureaucratic quirk of fate.

    I just want you guys to know your suffering and sacrifice is noted and appreciated.

  12. Hogday

    Excellent stuff Bill (and friends who commented). Eric “Winkle” Brown! A true legend, I was taken with his classic comment re flying the `Komet`, “I was a little apprehensive…” Priceless understatement. If “Winkle” was apprehensive, mere mortals would be scared fartless.
    Get your pictures out in the open chaps, cos when we’re gone, we’re gone.

    • Bill Brandt

      Wonderful British understatement!

      “Brown knew the ride would be exhilarating”

      Just the rotation speed – the speed at which the plane is flying fast enough to pull the nose up – knowing that speed is critical – some planes – pull the nose up too soon and they never take off – and Brown is doing all this by “feel” and guesstimating (or, as those in the scientific disciplines refer, the “S.W.A.G” methodology).

      When you think that a normal pilot learns the speeds he needs – rotation, climb out, approach, from the test pilots – who got their speeds from the engineers, and here is Brown having to do all this by feel.

      And a wrong guess could easily kill you.

      HD your painting the picture in words of the raid you did on the terrorist hideout, with information from MI5 – that has stayed in my mind – and what a snapshot of the times.

      No cameras allowed at that time, I assume.

      More pictures will be coming….

  13. Old AF Sarge

    Excellent work Bill. I look forward to your travelogues with the same excitement as a new Busbob flying story. Absolutely love them. More pics!

  14. Tom Mickey (USAF-Retired)

    The pictures bring back old memories, I was in Neu Ulm 72-76, thanks for sharing your moments.

  15. Pingback: My Army Introduction To Germany | The Lexicans

  16. Nice. I worked in Garmisch, 1974 -76. I didn’t take pictures, so thanks for sharing yours.

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