Americans in Mannheim 1945-2011
#4

The latest...

 

Dear friends,

it's been quite a while since you've last heard from my history project, so time for an update from Mannheim, Germany.

 

First of all, let me again express my gratitude for your continued support with photos, memories, and anecdotes. The wealth of material you all provided made this whole enterprise a truly worthwhile way of spending my spare time during these past two years. And I've learned so much . . . Now that the project gradually reaches its final stages, here are some statistics:

 

* I've been in touch with more than 300 people, mostly former Mannheim soldiers. There were also quiet a lot of former teachers and military brats who contributed material and memories.

 

* The text amounts to something like 100,000 words which is about five as much as originally intended. Reminds me of procurement projects in industry - if they claim it'll cost you a million dollars, better plan for 2-3 times as much.

 

* Thanks to your help, I have in excess of 2,500 photos to choose from. About 400 to 500 will make it into the book - anything else would hopelessly blow up the budget. The book will thus be both very textual and pictorial, and will hopefully succeed in preserving Mannheim's American legacy in both word and picture.

 

Meeting all of you has been the most valuable experience for me. It took me quiet a while to find some people's e-mail or postal addresses, but the internet didn't let me down. And every single person that I asked for permission to use a certain photo or anecdote agreed - I was very humbled. You all were my major motivation throughout these past two years. The book will therefore be dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lived and worked in Mannheim since WWII.

 

The text is now with my publisher, the photos will follow within the next few weeks. By Christmas, the printing presses should be running hot. The enclosed photo will somehow be on the book's front cover, that much is for sure. It shows a 1950s G.I. as he draws a sketch of the Mannheim water tower, our no.1 landmark in town.

 

Mannheim as a garrison has almost completely disappeared in the meantime even though there's still life in some installations (mostly Coleman and Spinelli Bks.). I drove through Benjamin Franklin Village yesterday (our major housing area) and was greeted by a huge sign reading "Commissary and Burger King still open". Alas, there weren't too many customers for either facility left - I encountered a single person during my ten-minute ride. Very sad, this is really the end of an era. The chapel closed 6 May, followed by the elementary school on 8 June. By 30 September, the housing area will be all empty.

 

Nearby Heidelberg is also closing very fast even though there are still many units left, including USAREUR headquarters. By the summer of 2013, however, most of these units will have left, too, turning Heidelberg's American housing areas into ghost towns. An American friend of mine who works at USAREUR headquarters and I are already drafting plans for a history project on Heidelberg.

 

I'll keep you posted and will let you all know as soon as we're inching closer to the book release.

 

My salute to all of you.

 

Greetings from Mannheim, Germany,

Christian Führer

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Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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Americans in Mannheim 1945-2011 - by Walt's Daughter - 07-19-2012, 01:14 PM

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