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Saale Zeiting
Monday 18 October 1937
A Sunday at Our Barracks

The resurrected military finds its roots in both the old traditions and latest developments of the modern era. The composition and structure of the unit is matched with the new spirit of the military. The fundamentals, guidelines, uniformity and foundations have changed. With the blessings of the majority, the compulsory draft that rejuvenates the Fatherland , brings our youth to the training areas and barracks, places that are not only training sites and accommodations but also home to our youth for their two year period of service. The barracks walls that once segregated the soldier’s life have fallen, rather, this is a place that stresses the camaraderie developed in the close partnership between the military and civilian population.

Bad Kissingen is proud of “her“ barracks, something that with uncharacteristic speed rose from the earth and now is prominently displayed in city photographs. Therefore, it was an experience of all of us to tour the barracks on Sunday and gain an impression of the life and home of “our soldiers”.

  During the open house celebration, the color guard prepares for the candle light march.  

The festive day began with a great commotion in the streets. Stirring martial music greeted the morning and the people getting out of bed. The opening of the Kaserne doors provided a lively insight into the “ soldier city “. This continued on until the great candle and drum parade (Zapfenstreich) that night. Cars came and went, interested and expectant pedestrians wandered in droves. We hear the exclamations in astonishment of the citizens and friends as they are swept up in the spirit of the day, united through our German blood and proudly manifested that day.

The location couldn’t have been more wonderful. The buildings quietly stand halfway on the heights of the Sinnberg, the city lays protected below. The woods around Bad Kissingen, in their Autumn finery, stretch out around the town, in the distance - the high grounds of the Rhone. The barracks is neatly laid out with respect to the location. At the entrance, the stone spire carrying the honored symbol of the Army. The Kradschutzen companies are raised from five German cities and the barracks buildings bear the town coats - of - arms. We noted: Hofgeismar, Ansbach, Bamberg, Erfurt and Eisenach. The staff building carries the Manteuffel family : Dragoon Regiment coat of arms, symbolic of the ancient traditions honored by the battalion.

  … and they step off as the units begin to assemble at the Parade Field. Unfortunately, the other images from this sequence are lost.  

The throngs of visitors found themselves at the displays and presentations. The large scale of the area, the practical technical instruction, the strict order of things, the tireless work and attention to detail all are impressions of the day. The staff building by the entrance is the hub for order and administration. The staff offices are simple, efficient and well kept, barracks rooms have an orderly yet personal feel to them. The finishing touches were still being done on the heat and hot water system for the building, On an upper floor, we observed the wall locker display of uniforms and soldier equipment, arranged in strict military order. The area above the locker was devoted to neatly arranged other uniform components to include leather equipment and the tent shelter ˝.

Naturally, the major interest of the visitors turned to the tools of the soldier ’s trade, their weapons and vehicles. A portion of each company had assembled by their respective motor shop with their trucks, motorcycles and weapons ready for deployment or combat. Technicians , mechanics and armorers were at work on the weapons with their specialized sense of both duty and expertise. For each man, the technical skills are a responsibility in the field also.

  This is the souvenir post card sold in Bad Kissingen to commemorate the open house at Manteuffel Kaserne. The Saale Zeitung was much too small to print newspaper photographs except under extraordinary circumstances. Post cards of this nature were the logical replacement. Noteworthy on the card, the finishing touches to the barracks are done and in lower left panel, some of the civilian crowds are visible.  

We continued our walk through the area passing sparkling clean latrines, pleasant barracks rooms with tightly made beds, through the NCO billet area - complete with carefully arranged cut flowers - on through the classrooms - filled with the tactical and technical training materials that each soldier is expected to master during his two year period of active duty. There really is a lot to be learned. Our next stop - the entertainment rooms - a piano, pool table and table tennis set plus writing desks and reading area , all for the soldiers who would busily come and go in off duty hours. This is a place to unwind from the necessarily demanding duty day, carefully planned and beginning at six in the morning, a day filled with the requirements of service, both great and small for all the soldiers.

We continued on to the dining building, seeing the kitchen, well lit and immaculately clean, the dining area and a friendly canteen room. At about noon, the visitors distributed themselves into the various barracks to enjoy the camaraderie of the meal served from the field mess. This was a leisurely affair as the music of a military band arranged on the parade field, drifted in through open windows.

Outside, the stream of visitors did not stop, each with an active interest in some aspect of the technical explanation. (indistinct sentence partially about the traditions of the saddle, the lance and the banner, parts of becoming a Dragoon)

The band concert continue to greet new groups of visitors as there was a steady stream of those arriving and departing. Darkness settled over the barracks, the lines of visitors precisely assemble as a mass unified by an idea. In the center of the wide parade field, soldiers were standing as a block in their helmets and banners. To the left and right, other soldier groups stood , only visible as a group not as individuals. New music began, for the masses, it was splendid and solemn. In a way, all were participants in the great concert and lit candle display. At the end of a wonderful day, it was both a symbol of unified thought and praise. The evening was mild, a light wind blew the scents of Fall in from the Rhone. The remaining lights in the windows of the barracks switched off; the only light was from the moon and stars. “Deutschland uber Alles“ and the “Horst Wessel Lied“ (German National Anthem and popular Nazi Party song respectively) were played and the troops began to march by candlelight.

On this particular day, we had learned much and enjoyed much. The smiling faces of young men had greet us, apparent to anyone that they understood that the duty of one is service to all. Men unified through military discipline, service and honor in the protection of the German nation and the German people. They tell us they are ready, they also told us they are thankful and happy for the hours they have in Franconia (region in which Bad Kissingen is found) and are happy to be associated with “our“ barracks.

Ursel Schachenmaner

  Three images of what the open house at Manteuffel Kaserne may have looked like. These are unknown location photos but they match the events of the day. Two images of German Army bandsmen as they parade through a town and a barracks room display ready for civilian inspection.  

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