NB: When Christa and I were married in 1965, our first home was in Bamberg, Germany. I was assigned to the 404th Military Police Company, 4th Armored Division, at the time. We left in early 1967 and have never been back (You can never go home). These are some of the memories of Bamberg then.

The history of Bamberg reaches back into the mists of history. The present city dates it's birth from the first mention in 902 of the castle Babenberg on this site. The German Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich II founded a bishopric here in 1007 and went on to make Bamberg the capital of his empire. Down through the centuries the art and architecture of the city flourished. Bamberg was spared by the U.S. Army Air Corps during the Second World War, a fact that I thought was not always adequately appreciated by some of the burghers. The four-spired building in the upper left is the cathedral, a melding of Gothic and Romanesque styles. The compound atop the hill on the upper right is the former Benedictine monastery of Michaelsberg. Midway between them in the picture is the New Residence, the imperial palace. The strange-looking building in the foreground is shown in greater detail below.

 

Bamberg originated as two cities, the ecclesiastical and imperial city on one side of the Regnitz River and the other, the commercial city, on the opposite bank. The old town hall, built in 1456 (and remodeled into Baroque style in 1744) was made a symbol of the union of the two cities by being built on the middle pier of the bridge crossing the Regnitz.

 

The city is a vast repository of classical art and architecture. One of it's most famous masterpieces is this statue in the cathedral by an unknown sculptor. The sculpture is simply known as "The Rider."

 

Bamberg is composed of many unique sections dating from various ages in it's history. One of the most picturesque was this section along the river dubbed "Little Venice."

 


Ah yes. Now the newlyweds. Here are Christa and I in better days. We were both 23 when this picture was taken and had been married about a half hour. Christa's home was Geislingen an der Steige, a small town about 20 miles down the road from the American Kaserne at Goeppingen, where I was stationed. Christa was employed by an army officer's family and I, a PFC in the MPs spent a lot of time guarding officer's country. We had originally planned to live in Goeppingen after we were married. These plans changed when my CO, a diminutive captain with an identity crisis, came to regard me as a threat to military discipline within the company. I had already tired of him to the point that I wanted desperately to be reassigned anywhere as long as it wasn't too far away. The furtherest he could send me was Bamberg where I arrived on December 31, 1964. Christa and I were married a few months later at the city hall in Geislingen and returned to Bamberg before my absence from my duty post was noted by any hostile forces.

 

 

This was our first home at Markusplatz 16. We lived in an apartment on the second floor that consisted of a bedroom, a small room with a tiny kitchen stove, a small porcelain sink and a table with two chairs (everyone assured me this was a kitchen), and a long very empty room containing a toilet. The "bath" part of bathroom was downstairs and was shared with a number of other occupants. We heated our bathwater with a coal furnace, each user being expected to supply his own coal. I found that empty milk cartons worked almost as good as coal. Another resident, a local fish merchant who bathed very infrequently, stored his Communist Party literature in one of the cabinets. This provided another good supplementary fuel source. Entertainment was furnished each Sunday morning by a dubiously-keyed choir from the local Holy Roller church which met on the ground floor. Not having a car at the time, I rode the local tram to work each morning. The owner of the apartment building, Frau Rudhart, was a kindly old soul and it wasn't such a bad place to live.

 

 

 

As the sound of the stork's flapping wings got louder, we realized we had to find some more spacious, if not more elegant, accommodations. Since the army had assumed I was independently wealthy and therefore not in need of much in the way of compensation, this became a problem. The only thing to do was to move to the suburbs. In this case, it was a small village some 15 miles or so to the north called Kemmern. Here we rented a small detached house at 57 1/9 Kemmern from Herr Kupski. He had built the small house some years before for his bride, whose untimely death had left it vacant. Herr Kupski's elderly parents lived in a small hovel on the same property. They relished acting as surrogate grandparents to our newly arrived daughter.

 

 

Meanwhile, back in town, I continued my day job as a gunslinger for the 404th MP Detachment.  Although the garrison MPs (the 793d MP Battalion) rode around in sedans, we were kept in the mode of transportation shown above.  The thinking was that anyone who was forced to ride in an open jeep during a typical German winter was just bound to be meaner.

 

 

Some of the neighbors in Kemmern out employing their advanced agricultural methods in the springtime. Kemmern was far too small to have any excitement, any trouble....or any privacy. In order to move to Kemmern, I had obviously been forced to become an automobile owner. Unfortunately, no pictures survived of the 1955 red VW beetle convertible which became well known around the MP detachment as "The Red Rag." It was a maintenance-intensive vehicle that depended upon the army impoundment lot for spare parts, which it devoured ferociously. There was no truth to the assertion that privately-owned VW beetles of this vintage were much more prone to impoundment by 404th MPs than were other vehicles.

 

 


In late 1966, we moved from Kemmern into army housing at the American kaserne. I had by then achieved the auspicious rank of (buck) sergeant. Even under those elevated circumstances, we were only due an attic suite which had formerly been a maid's dormitory. This provided us with an 8-bedroom apartment. We had one bedroom, our infant daughter another, and our cat occupied a third, leaving us 5 guest bedrooms. In early 1967 we ended my first tour of duty in Europe by boarding a jet at Rhein-Main AFB for Andrews AFB, Maryland.

 


 

 

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