Gone Missing at the
The occupation was going much better than anyone ever
imagined. There had been fear of outright civil insurgency,
fear of mass starvation, fear of a Nazi or Communist “fifth
column“, fear that Germany would descend into utter chaos.
None of this happened. In the American, French and British
zones during those first two years of peace, the Germans
certainly encountered mass privation, the wholesale
suspension of civil rights, shattered cities and a collapsed
economy but through some intimidation and much cooperation,
the occupiers and the defeated found common ground to build
The Soviets ran their zone in a more ruthless fashion but
also achieved results. The Germans had dreaded the arrival
of a Cossack horde and the Russians certainly extracted a
level of vengeance in their first months of occupation but
soon settled in to create a new German socialist state. A
Germany divided along political lines was not part of the
original plan the four great powers hammered out at the
Yalta and Potsdam Conferences in the waning days of the war
but increasingly, this seemed to be the Soviet goal.
As the flush of victory cooled, serious political
disagreements began. Reconstituting Germany would be
expensive and time consuming. The western Allies had a
vision of forging a democratic Germany fully integrated into
Europe at peace. The Russians wanted a wall of client buffer
states with Germany, or at a minimum, the half they
occupied, as a keystone. Agreements were dismissed as no
long valid, in the ashes of Nazi totalitarianism, a new
political fracture line arose, East versus West, Communism
versus Democracy, the United States versus the Soviet Union.
1947 witnessed the warnings, 1948 signaled the beginning of
the Cold War.
The Summer of 1948 was dominated by the daily news reports
of the airlift carrying supplies into divided Berlin. The
former capital of Germany had been segmented into four zones
of control by the allies just as Germany on the whole was
subdivided. In an arc across the western half of the city,
the French, British and Americans each controlled a portion,
the Soviets held the north and eastern districts. The fact
that the divided city lay two hundred miles inside the newly
forming socialist state in East Germany was increasingly a
contentious fact for the Russians. By cutting off road, rail
and barge traffic to the east at the boundary between the
Russian and Allied zones in the late Spring of 1948, the
Russians expected the Allies to either abandon the enclave
or at least, grant major concessions to Soviet demands as to
how Berlin would be run.
In a bold plan, the Americans decided to resupply the three
western zones within the city by air and the great airlift
began. Everything from coal and fuel oil to food to machine
parts were flown in by military transports with near round
the clock precision for over a year. Berlin was the site of
the first major battle of the Cold War in Europe but
elsewhere, there were skirmishes all along the zonal borders
separating west and east.
In Bad Kissingen
From the occupation of the Kurstadt in 1945 through the
early Summer of 1948, much progress had occurred in the
town. Most of the US Army had departed and the hotel
district was largely returned to German civil control.
Manteuffel Kaserne was at first used by American troops, a
variety of units seemed to come and go. There was discussion
as to whether the US Constabulary force would station troops
there. Instead, the cities of Hersfeld, Fulda, Hammelberg
and Coburg were garrisoned. The Headquarters of the
International Relief Organization moved into the vacant
barracks and worked to resettle the thousands of displaced
persons trapped in Germany. Refugee passports were produced:
nationality-Bulgarian, departing camp-Wildflecken, country
of arrival-Canada, document printed and approved-Bad
This is not to say, however, that the Americans had
completely departed from the city. While every effort had
been made to de-natzify German society and reconstitute the
civil affairs with as much local control returned to the
Germans as seemed prudent, the city and the balance of the
US zone still had direct American military oversight. This
was a period of transition from the army of occupation and
direct Army control to the supervision of German society by
the U. S. State Department. Dozens of U.S. based programs
were underway in Germany to rebuild infrastructure, insure
that democracy took root and that communist influences were
identified and isolated. From youth groups to railroad
bridges, the Americans seemed to have a hand in everything.
Locally, at least in the summer of 1948, Lieutenant Sherman
F. Turner was our man in Bad Kissingen.
The exact scope of his power, size of his staff and even the
physical location of his office is unknown. He probably
could exercise veto power over virtually anything in the
city, a flying troop from the Constabulary forces was only a
telephone call away. Daily interests, however, probably
would have focused on keeping the electric lights on,
smuggling and contraband suppressed, the communists out and
the nazis in their graves.
Troublesome was the Soviet-American zonal border and that
area from Mellrichstadt running northwest toward the
junction with the state of Hesse near
Fladungen-Frankenheim-Hilders. Berlin and the blockade were
flashpoints and this dominated the news. There were,
however, many acts of intimidation involving the Russian
troops patrolling all along the zonal border region and Lt.
Turner, although he did not have official responsibilities
that far from the Kurstadt, drove north to take a first hand
look. He was accompanied by a civilian employee of the U. S.
Government, an American college professor with a background
in military intelligence.
New York Times
10 August 1948
Two U. S. Officials Missing
Two Americans have been missing in the Soviet zone since
August 5, it became known today. They are Lieutenant S. F.
Turner, director of the Military Government in Bad Kissingen
and Roland M. Myers, a civilian employee of the Department
of the Army.
According to the report of a German chauffeur who first
notified Army authorities of the incident, he had driven the
two men to a check point on the border of the State of Hesse
and the Soviet zone in the State of Thuringia, east of
Frankfurt. He said they were on a routine crop inspection.
The United States officials crossed the border to inspect a
farm that extended into the Soviet zone and were almost
immediately picked up by Soviet troops, according to the
best information available here. The German driver said the
Russians had motioned him to come along but that he had
departed in the other direction.
A United States Army radio broadcaster cited an unconfirmed
report that the Russians had promised to return the two men
by noon tomorrow.
New York Times
11 August 1948
Russians Complete Rail Work
“Repairs"to the railway link between blockaded Berlin and
the Western zones of Germany were reported virtually
completed today but there was no sign the Russians would
reopen the line.
Rumors had circulated in Berlin last night and today that
early resumption of service would be permitted, but W. T.
Babcock, United States Deputy Commander in Berlin said
investigation had established the rumors to be unfounded.
The British licensed German press service quoted the German
supervisor of the line as denying a report the blockade
would be lifted soon.
The Russians closed the road in June, citing “ technical
difficulties “. The Western powers said the Soviet claim was
The Russians were reported to have promised United States
authorities yesterday that they would release Lieut. Sherman
S. Turner of Council Bluffs, Iowa and Roland M. Myers of 233
Hemlock Street, Brooklyn, N. Y. Lieutenant Turner, military
government officer in charge of Bad Kissingen and Mr. Myers,
another military government official were arrested August 5.
A flight of at least twelve Soviet Yak fighter planes flew
over the British and American sectors of Berlin shortly
before sunset. Witnesses said the planes flying in two
formations, caused great excitement and brought residents
out into the streets.
British officials said they were investigating the flight
and would not comment until “all the facts are in.” American
authorities had no comment.
Officers at the Gatow British airport in Berlin said the
planes were flying at 4, 000 feet and that there was no
question they were “buzzing“ the area.
New York Times
13 August 1948
Two Americans Still Held
Frankfurt am Main AP
Two Americans seized by Soviet troops a week ago remained in
Russian hands tonight with apparent hope of immediate
release. Russian liaison officers refused today to turn
loose Lieut. Sherman S. Turner of Council Bluffs, Iowa,
Chief of the Military Government in Bad Kissingen, and
Roland Mason Myers of 233 Hemlock Street, Brooklyn, of the
Military Government in Nuremberg.
New York Times
20 August 1948
Russians Still Hold 2 Seized Americans
Frankfurt am Main AP
United States Army authorities made little-if any-progress
today trying to free two Americans held prisoner by the
Russians for two weeks. The detention of the two Americans
is the latest in a whole series of arrests by Soviet
soldiers in the present East-West impasse.
Russian authorities in Berlin were reportedly insisting they
knew nothing about the arrest August 5 of Lieut. Sherman S.
Turner of Council Bluffs Iowa and Roland M. Myers of
The United States Army for its part showed reluctance to
talk about the case. The wife of Lieutenant Turner said she
was “slowly going crazy waiting for news.”
New Your Times
21 August 1948
Two Held by Soviets to Admit “ Guilt “
Frankfurt am Main
United States Army headquarters at Heidelberg gave details
today of negotiations with the Russians for the return of
two Americans who on August 5 had crossed the zonal boundary
and were apprehended by the Russian Army.
The United States announcement said that the two men, First
Lieutenant Sherman F. Turner and Roland Myers, the latter a
civilian employee of the Department of the Army, had sought
to take photographs of the boundary markers of the United
States zone in the State of Hesse. They had proceed into
Russian held territory.
An attempt on August 10 to arrange the return of the two men
failed when Russian authorities tried to get a United States
liaison officer to sign a statement admitting the guilt of
the two men and containing a protest by a Russian general.
The United States liaison officer, who saw that the men were
“ clean and in good condition “ while he had argued with the
Russian officers in the Soviet zone town of Wartha, refused
to sign the statement because he had instructions to sign
only an ordinary receipt for the two persons.
According to today’s announcement, the two men being held
had signed the prepared statement which was two pages long.
The Russians tried “ sometimes in a friendly manner and
sometimes in a rough manner” to persuade the liaison officer
to sign but the latter remained adamant.
New York Times
24 August 1948
Freed Officials Tired of Cabbage -Two Military Government
Men Held 18 Days by the Russians Tell of Their Experience
Frankfurt am Main AP
The Russians released today the two United States Military
Government officials after having detained them of eighteen
days in Gotha, twenty five miles west of Weimar. Their
detention was the longest by Russian officials in the recent
series of arrests of Americans.
The men were Lieut. Sherman S. Turner, 34, of Council Bluffs
Iowa and Rowland M. Myers, 41, of Brooklyn. They were seized
August 5 at the border of the Russian zone of Eastern
Germany at a point seventy-five miles east of Frankfurt.
They said they had been “ well treated, if you like cabbage
“ after their release this morning at Hersfeld on the border
of the Unites States and Soviet zones.
Mr. Myers, who had been a Professor of Romance Languages at
the University of Texas, said they had been kept in a
private house and guarded night and day. He added: “ We
stayed there for the eighteen days. From time to tome we
thought there were other prisoners in the house. “
Produced at the Border
The Americans were arrested when they crossed into the
Soviet zone, perhaps inadvertently at Mellrichstadt. The
Russians produced then on Aug 10 at the border, but Untied
States liaison officers would not sign a receipt drawn up by
the Russians that said the two had entered Russian terrify “
without authority “ and had taken pictures illegally of the
border. The Russian negotiator then took the two back into
the Soviet zone.
The men were released today to Lieut. Lincoln Landis, who
said he had signed a “ simple receipt.” He indicated that
the qualifications found objectionable previously by the
Americans had been withdrawn. The men were taken to the
headquarters of the 22nd Constabulary Squadron at Hersfeld.
Lieutenant Turner, Military Government officer at Bad
Kissingen said that the only time he had been questioned by
the Russians was for fifteen minutes the first night.
“They asked what American troops were in the area,” he said,
“what I was doing up at the border-I was on business-and
where the local American counter-intelligence unit was. They
also asked what education I had, where I was born and a lot
of stuff that didn’t seem to have anything to do with
Appeared to be a Headquarters
He said he and Mr. Myers had been kept in a house that
appeared to be headquarters for Soviet counter intelligence.
“ From my point of view,” he declared, “we were ambushed at
the point of a gun when we were first arrested. The Russians
soldiers came out from behind trees. We were definitely in
the American zone. There is no question about it.”
“At first we didn’t see each other at all, “ Lt Turner
continued, “ not until that Tuesday-Aug 10-when the Russians
took us to the frontier and were ready to release us and the
Americans wouldn’t take us.”
“That was the day that the American lieutenant said, ’ I
will be back in ten minutes ’ and didn’t come back for two
weeks because the Russians wanted him to sign a paper saying
we were illegally in the Russian zone which we weren’t.”
“Then we had chow together after that-but what chow. At 10 :
30 we had breakfast. That was cabbage with cheese and bread.
At 4 : 30 we had lunch. That was cabbage soup with
carbohydrates in it-you know-some stick to your ribs thing
like potatoes, macaroni or barley. At 10P. M. we had
dinner-that’s the way the Russians do things. Cabbage,
cheese and bread-very substantial.”
Lived in the Same Room
“They put us to live together in the same room. Much
better-but the beds were flea ridden. But they gave us
German books and a checkers set. I read about the siege of
Leningrad and other books and translated them for amusement.
What else could we do? The we played checkers some of the
time-and I lost.”
Mr. Myers, who is deputy chief of the United States Military
Government’s Civil Affairs Division said that the Russians
had a “fine time“ inspecting his possessions.
“I collect pieces of paper,” he said. “and they spent hours
studying all the stuff in my pockets-the telephone numbers
and all that stuff-and they must have thought it very
important. But they treated us real good-they called me ‘
“I told them we were not in the Russian zone when we were
arrested. They said,’ Then you mean our troops were in the
American zone?’ I told them I didn’t say that. But in any
case the border is so poorly marked. As far as I am
concerned, we weren’t in their territory.”
“For my money we were treated satisfactorily. The Russians
were careful never to lay a finger on us. The only time I
touched a Russian was when the Russian colonel came in every
three days and shook hands.”
Colonel (Retired) Lincoln Landis
Those events were a long time ago and to be honest, I do not
recall the specific day that I signed for Lieutenant Turner
and Mr. Myers, but the reports in the paper seem correct. I
would never sign any document for return of personnel except
for a simple receipt.
I graduated with the
class of 1945 from the United States Military Academy at
West Point and was posted to Germany as an infantry office
in the border area. I certainly felt the Russians were a
strange breed of ally and to learn more about them, I took a
Russian language course and returned to the area in 1947.
From October of that year until the following October, I was
attached for rations and quarters to the 22nd Constabulary
Squadron, 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment. I served under US
Constabulary G-2 as a Russian Liaison Officer at Bad
Hersfeld, Germany. I was responsible for the northern
half-the Hesse region of the US-Soviet zonal border, while
Lt. Jim Ryan was at Coburg with responsibility for the
southern half of the border, Bavaria. I had a group of
corporals and sergeants who were of Ukrainian decent and had
superior language skills as my staff. Across the zonal
border, my Soviet counterparts were Lieutenant Colonel
Garber and Major Sazanov of the 8th Guards Army. To resolve
official problems along the border, we met at the Russian
controlled towns of Wartha for the Hesse region and
Sonneberg for the Bavaria region.
This was the only official mechanism for discussing the ever
increasing number of issues along the zonal border and I
believe it was initiated in 1947. Problems involving Berlin
were discussed in that city through a separate set of
military contacts. Lt. Ryan and I also had unofficial
contact with the Russians along our respective zonal areas
and on the whole things were usually friendly at least in
the early days.
The same summer that Lt. Turner and Mr. Myers were
apprehended, I too was taken into custody by the Russians
along the border. I was with my driver, Sgt Morosky, and
clearly in the American zone when a Russian patrol stopped
us and took us prisoner. We were taken to a house in the
Soviet zone and held for several hours. The interrogating
Russian officer was very surprised that both Americans spoke
Russian so well and were so forceful in demanding to be
returned to the US zone immediately. I also had committed to
memory, the telephone numbers of key personnel of the 8th
Guards Army. I invited my captors to call my counterparts at
Wartha and explain why, precisely, we were being held. We
were released a few hours later.
I then spent much of my career studying the Soviet society
and mindset with several assignments in liaison and
intelligence positions. I continued this academic study with
advanced degrees at both Columbia and Georgetown and served
at the White House as the advisor for Soviet-American
Cooperative Exchanges. My book, Gorbachev’s Hidden
Agenda-Glimpses of the Soviet Mind (Vantage Press ISBN: 0
533 09101 2) details my thinking on the Russian-Soviet mind
and the profound dangers faced by western democracies in
believing there is any true drift toward democracy in
The Search for Mr. Myers and Lt. Turner
Dr. Rowland M. Myers taught Romance languages and literature
at a variety of universities including Johns Hopkins, New
York University and Southampton College in the years
following his departure from Army intelligence. In
retirement, he lived in Manhattan and died in 1984, at the
age of 76
And Mr. Turner? I really wanted to talk with the last
American military official in charge of Bad Kissingen. I
don’t believe he could have shed much light on his period of
captivity with the Russians beyond what appeared in the
newspaper, but I’ll bet he had some stories to tell about
Bad Kissingen. Unfortunately, I had no luck in the search.
In going through the Social Security Death Index, there were
no matches for Sherman S. Turner, however, there was one
direct match for Sherman F. Turner and one of the newspaper
articles of the period did use F as the middle initial. The
date of birth listed in that particular SSDI line would have
made this man 34 in 1948, the same age of the lieutenant as
reported in the period newspaper account. Mr. Sherman F.
Turner, died in Alexandria, VA in 2001.