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  Memory and Memorial

Thousands of soldiers can claim Manteuffel Kaserne / Daley Barracks as a former duty station. German veterans of the 2 Kradschutzen and 13th Medical Replacement Battalion may now number less than one hundred. The horrific casualty rates and passing years have winnowed their numbers. Among the Americans, soldiers who can say, " yes, I was there! " will remain well past the middle of this century. Here, the results of how honor, memory and memorial have tried to intersect on a hill above the city of Bad Kissingen and the near border region.

2 Kradschutzen Battalion Memorial

The Veterans Organization of the 2nd Panzer Division was formed in June of 1959 in Vienna. The purpose was straightforward, to provide fellowship for those men who had served with the division, to pool their collective memories to assist historians understand the role of the unit in the war and to insure that the honorable reputation of the unit and the German Army was maintained. They saw themselves as both victims of the criminal political leadership who had led them into war and also as honorable warriors who had fulfilled their military duty. The organization published a newsletter detailing events of note and held periodic reunions into the 1990s in cities associated with the past history of the division. At least twice, 1969 and 1981, the reunion was held in Bad Kissingen.

  May 1969, the Veteran's Association of the 2 Panzer Division reunion held in Bad Kissingen.   Memorial marker to the 2 Krad Battalion placed in the city park area of Bad Kissingen.
--Erwin Ritter

The German humorist Willie Franz, with a wink to his audience, recalled his own veteran’s reunion:

" ... and so it came time for the reunion and I went like I always did, dressed in my worst suit with a patch sewn on the sleeve. I hopped no one would ask me for a donation! At the table I sat with my friends, we sang the old songs, lied about our heroism and told the truth about our new, good lives as Germany prospered ... and silently prayed thanks to God for our chance to reminisce, lie and brag, so many comrades were absent forever. The man who had been my commander worked for the trucking company, the man who had been my driver owned the trucking company! At my table, one man had lost an arm, another, both legs, one more could not see and the fourth could barely hear. Put us all together and you could just about assemble one full German!! But we were alive, having survived a great nightmare we shared in the new dreams. "

A major event of each 2 Panzer Division reunion was the dedication of a memorial marker which reflected the historical relationship of the particular city and their unit. Schweinfurt, home to the anti - tank battalion when the 2 Krad was in Bad Kissingen, hosts an impressive stone memorial erected through the efforts of these veterans. It appears that the major event of the 1981 reunion was the placing of monument dedicated to the 2 Krad battalion. The logical place would have been at Manteuffel / Daley but this idea was soon dropped. The city was petitioned for a suitable spot in the park and gardens along the Saale River and this was granted.

The reunion went on as planned; the memorial marker was officially unveiled before the bowed heads of the survivors. A few years later, the 2nd Panzer veterans placed another memorial to recall the members of the 2 Krad in the Austrian city of Eisenstadt. This was the garrison home following Bad Kissingen.

  At a reunion held in Eisenstadt, 2 Panzer vets placed this marker.
--Stadt Eisnenstadt Burgermeister
  The Father Reinisch memorial by our former Dining Facility.
--Erwin Ritter

Catholic Priest Franz Reinisch Memorial

A simple memorial to a simple priest, who placed his moral convictions above his own life, was placed within the boundaries of the former Manteuffel / Daley Barracks in 2000.

Franz Reinisch, born 1 February 1903 as the son of tax official Dr. Franz Reinisch and his wife Maria in Feldkirch-Levis, was ordained as a priest on 29 June 1928 in the parish church St. Jakob in Innsbruck, Austria. In 1930, he entered the "Pallottinerorden" (Pallottine order), and shortly afterwards became known in the "Schoenstattbewegung" (Schoenstatt movement), a renewal movement for priests and lay people that was influenced by Marianism. Father Franz Reinisch was active as a preacher leader of retreat days in many places in Germany, and began early on to confront the emerging ideology of National Socialism. On 12 September 1940, he was banned from preaching or speaking anywhere in the Reich. He publicly noted that he would swear allegiance to the German people but never to a Adolf Hitler. When Father Reinisch deliberately reported to the 3rd Company of the 13th Medical Training Battalion in Bad Kissingen one day later than required by the draft papers in April 1942, he was arrested. He was taken to the military prison in Tegel, Berlin, and condemned to death for the undermining of military morale. Father Franz Reinisch, who requested a final declaration written by himself to be added to the sentence of 7 July 1942, was executed by the guillotine together with six others on 21 August 1942.

  Close up of the Reinisch memorial.
--Erwin Ritter
  Father Reinisch in the pre war years.
--Werner Kaligofsky

In both Catholic Germany and Austria, Father Reinisch is viewed as a significant figure in the early resistance movement that opposed Hitler and the anniversary dates of his birth and death are marked by public masses. Several memorials also exist in Austria.

Gerd Palzer: In the Line of Duty

West German Customs Police Officer Gerd Palzer was killed in the line of duty by gun fire while on border patrol in the difficult terrain about 6 kilometers northwest along the border from OP Sierra / Tennessee on 29 July, 1952. We often forget just how hostile the border was in the early days. Large gaps still existed in the forests and steep hill areas; the People’s Police of the DDR were anxious to aggressively patrol the border in search of potential escapees as well as score political points in the new Cold War by any means possible. It was only in the 1990s, well after the border was gone, that local historians were able to fully research the Palzer story.

Apparently Plazer, on normal patrol, encountered several Vopos on the border line by a clearing. The East German police suddenly crossed into the West and tried to apprehend Plazer. He resisted and broke away to the south. The Vopos opened fire and Plazer, wounded, retreated further back. The Vopos followed and Plazer was killed in a cross - fire some 100 meters inside of West Germany. His body was then drug back to the DDR and placed along the control strip. An American patrol recovered the body some hours later. The Russians lodged a protest against both the Zoll Police and US forces for twice causing major border incidents by crossing into the DDR. A memorial stone to Plazer was placed in 1953 near the spot where he died. The incident is also fully recounted in the Freedom’s Pathway Border Poster program that seeks to insure the new generation recalls the sacrifices that occurred in the Rhoen border region.

  On a hot German afternoon in the former border area, the Palzer memorial.
--Erwin Ritter
  Detail of the Palzer stone.
--Erwin Ritter

One American Not Forgotten

Not too far from Bad Kissingen in the near border area by Sondheim, a marker exists in memory of a GI killed in an accident in 1946. Chances are, if you were involved in any aspect of US Patrol during the Eaglehorse years, you drove by this spot many times and probably never noticed the roadside marker. We are still investigating the story and the versions differ slightly from each source but here is what we know.

Tech 5 Roy Brookshire was only 19 years old but home on leave in Colorado City, Texas, in the Summer of 1946, he proudly told his parents and sister that he had re - enlisted. Apparently this young man from the pan handle and found a new home in the Army. Three months later, they laid him to rest in the Lorreign Cemetery a few miles from Big Spring. The versions of the accident vary in minor detail.

  Not far from Sondheim, the memorial to Ray Brookshire.
--Erwin Ritter
  Detail of the Brookshire stone.
--Erwin Ritter

Erwin Ritter, investigating the story at the German end reports, " ... Brookshire was riding on a tank as they traveled down the road. A German vehicle was seen approaching in the opposite direction and swerved across the road. To avoid the collision, the tank ran into a ditch, Roy Brookshire was thrown off and killed instantly. Roy’s surviving sister recalls the story in much the same words. Another family member recalls, " ... Roy was riding in a tanker when it went into a ditch to avoid the on coming car, the truck overturned and Roy was killed ...".

We have yet to learn who was responsible for the roadside marker. The style of carving suggests an American was responsible, even if he misspelled Roy’s home town. Of the veterans in our contact list who date back to Bad Kissingen in that immediate post war period, no one could recall the incident. It remains to be seen if he may have been assigned to the Constabulary unit in Coburg or just a unit out on maneuvers.

The Brookshire family had received photos of the marker some years back from another Eaglehorse trooper but had misplaced them. We sent new images taken by Erwin Ritter to the relatives. It is interesting to note that local Germans have kept the area of the marker neatly cleared for anyone who may pass by and take the time to read the inscription.

  At left, acting Blackhorse Commander, LTC Robert Cone with Oberburgermeister Herr Christian Zoll at the placing of the American plaque at the former Daley Barracks. The chapel can be seen behind the Bad Kissingen Youth Music Corps.
--Ritter / Main Post
  The same area as seen as of 2003.
--Erwin Ritter

The American Marker at Daley Barracks

Beyond the photos and captions, little is known on the development of the memorial plaque that was placed at the former Daley Barracks as the Blackhorse left Germany. We believe the simple plaque said, " to recall the friendship between the city of Bad Kissingen and the American Army, stationed at Daley Barracks, 1951 - 1991 " in both German and English. The official presentation of the memorial was marked by great fanfare; the barracks area was already in the process of passing over to German control and the plaque was placed along with and planting of a tree to mark the occasion, in the area immediately in front of the Chapel. The date of the ceremony leads us to believe it was done shortly before the Blackhorse officially departed Germany. In Fulda, a more ornate and substantial marker recalls the service of the Regiment in Germany.

At some point, either after the official return of the area or the redevelopment, the plaque was taken. At first, we thought that the Bad Kissingen Office of Building Inspections had saved the marker during the razing of the barracks. This appears to not be the case. The plaque is gone, the Chapel is gone, the tree remains.

  The newly placed plaque at the former Daley Barracks recalls the service of the Blackhorse in Bad Kissingen.
--Erwin Ritter
  Detail of the new plaque as of August 2003. Translated: "May this tree grow and be healthy to honor the friendship between the soldiers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and the German people. 1972 - 1994 Blackhorse!".
--Erwin Ritter

UPDATE: In late August 2003, the plaque was replaced through the efforts of the American military community and the city of Bad Kissingen.

We Were There

Many American veterans with ties to Bad Kissingen return each year. There have been organized tours and certainly more will happen in the future. There is much to see and recall in the town, the physical markers of our military time are a little difficult to find but they are there also, in the LTA, at Camp Lee, a few places in the old barracks area.

Many of the large German cities that once hosted major American units have leveled the barracks areas and now, virtually no trace remains. Bad Kissingen, however, was always something different; the scale was smaller, personal contacts more frequent and lasting. Whenever possible, the Americans tried to be good neighbors as well as ready warriors, a delicate task. The Kontact program promoting German and American positive interaction was born in Bad Kissingen. We built a swimming pool, we built a by pass road, we built personal friendships and a  lasting peace in Europe unparalleled in history. When we finally left, after a victorious war, it was not fought in Germany but in the Middle East.

  A detail of the former Camp Lee sign as found on the roof of the motor shop. The Blackhorse fades away in the German sun.
--Norbert Ruckel
  Here is my brother, Roy and my sister, Betty when Roy was home on leave in 1946.
--Mrs W.D. Doss

How much had changed in just a few years. The tanks marched out, the colors were folded and a fifty year experience spanning three full generations of troopers and civilians in one German town ended. When the Eaglehorse departed Daley for the final time, the M1s and M3s passed under the gate arch and a nineteen year old driver spun the vehicle into the " Wildflecken turn " . Road marching along Ring Strasse it was a scene familiar to both soldiers and civilians alike. This time, however, it was different; from a distance, seen from the rear, the column began to become indistinct in the heat plumes from the engines. A final flurry of HUMVEEs and then the MPs released the German civilian traffic by the gate. The sound began to die away and the tanks became indistinct shapes in the far distance. Soon only the last traces of the shimmering plumes were visible and then they were gone.  It was like a dream.

The sun set that day on a new Germany and Europe at peace.  Fifty years and thousands of troopers had passed since the first day ... when LTC Spurrier watched his recon battalion with scout jeeps, half tracks and M24 Chaffee tanks march northwest from Schweinfurt to a new home and a new mission ... when the first Americans came to Bad Kissingen.

  Roy's grave as we set him to rest later that Summer.
--Mrs W.D. Doss

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