Friday, July 23, 2010

Former Canadian Military Base in Lahr, Germany (Part 2)

Kaserne and Outlying Areas

The Kaserne was a German Army garrison during WW11.  During the war many of its buildings were damaged by Allied bombing.  After the war ended, the French Occupying Military Forces took over the Kaserne and directed that the damaged buildings be rebuilt to original plans.

Below left, the renovated CYC at the entrance to the Kaserne.  This was the Canadian Youth Centre where the young people got together.  The German owner had gone there as a teen himself and wanted to preserve the building, which he did.  Below, right, the entrance way (on the right side) with K1 building under renovation.  This was the Brigade headquarters.  The gate and the military guard house that was an ID check point are gone. 

Below left, the Fliegerhof and the only remaining building on that side, facing the entrance to the former Kaserne.  This is where air crew stayed for their rest stops before returning to Canada (crew from the transport planes that flew back and forth between Trenton, Ontario and Lahr.)

When the Canadian Forces moved to Lahr, they took over the Kaserne and many outlying buildings from the French; those buildings included the permanent married quarters (PMQs). Those were renovated, after which the Canadian military families made them their home.  Many thousands passed through the Kaserne and in and out of PMQs over the next 27 years.  I lived in one of those PMQ buildings for two years in the 1970s as did many of our friends.

Below left, Area 3 PMQ, across from Link VW (my PMQ in the 1970s).  Below right, the group of Area 13 PMQs behind Area 3.

Below, Link VW as it is today and the beautiful building that remains as it was, on the right side of the PMQ road into Area 13.

The Army and Air Force lived side
by side.  It was our first experience with the Army way of life and for many of the Army people, it was their first experience with the RCAF way of life.  (It was around 1968 when both services lost their long-time names and became simply Canadian Armed Forces.  Most military people, though, continued using their old names.)

I remember many a weekend night with parties going on in our building and in those behind us.  One minute a group would sing one of their Army songs out the window of their PMQ and the next, the Air Force would retaliate with one of theirs--each time a little more loudly than the last, all of it a friendly rivalry.

Unlike most Canadian military bases, the facilities were divided into two areas here in Lahr:  the airfield or base as most of us called it, was situated at the far west side of Lahr; the Kaserne, at the far east side.  As Lahr is not a large city, it took only about 15 minutes to drive between the two.  The PMQs were also located at various parts of the city and in other nearby towns, side by side with civilian housing, also unlike any other base that I know.

Soon, the Kaserne will no longer be as we remembered, as a huge construction project is ongoing.  Most of the buildings have been torn down, so it is difficult to recognize anything other than a particular location of a building one once knew well.  A few of the buildings will remain--renovated from the inside out--and they will be turned into apartments.  The rest of that area will consist of single homes, duplexes and garden homes.

Canadian Forces Europe Headquarters was located at the Kaserne.  The picture on the left shows the front entrance and the one on the right, the back of K4.  I don't know whether it is to be torn down, but I think it is likely.


The Kaserne is also where Canex main offices (K5), and many of the schools were located.  On the left is K5; on the right, one of the schools still standing.




Other facilities found at the Kaserne were the arena, curling club, gymnasium with bowling alleys, the main Canex store (mini department store) and a coffee shop and restaurant.  All of these buildings have been torn down.  At the airfield we had similar facilities, some still standing, some gone.



The picture at right is the road going through the Kaserne from the back gate to the front with buildings being constructed along it. 





Below left, the area where the former Community Centre was located.  On the right of that now empty space is an insurance company built after the Canadians left.  The picture on the right shows part of the area where the C.C. once was with apartment buildings along the road.

Our Community Centre, in downtown Lahr, included a movie theatre.  It was also a tourist centre for Canadian military and civilian personnel offering tours all over Europe.  We had our own buses with tours available to many countries, but also day tours to closer destinations.  For more distant places, other bus companies were also used.  Over the years, thousands of people, including many family visitors from Canada, took advantage of all the various tours offered.  Three that I took included a ten-day trip to Greece, a long-weekend in Burgundy with wine tastings and wonderful dinners and a day trip to Gruyere, Switzerland, where cheese fondue or Raclette was a lunch choice.

Two other important community services were the Canadian Forces Network (CFN) and Der Kanadier newspaper.  The building on the left was the former CFN, now the German Red Cross.  On the right, the Der Kanadier building where Canada Haus is presently located.  The building is owned by a company that operates a day care centre for the elderly on the bottom floor.

 The picture below is of the church at the end of the street where CFN and Der Kanadier were located.

CFN for many years was a radio station only.  We received many CBC programs over the years along with live programs produced at CFN in Lahr.  In later years we also received televised programs from the CBC and also some produced in Lahr.  Shortly before the close-down, radio and TV programs were received from the American Forces Network (AFN).

Der Kanadier was a weekly newspaper that was free for all Canadian military and civilians working for the Canadian Forces.  It brought everyone up to date on all the happenings and upcoming events, including all the community club news.  It was a fountain of knowledge for new Canadians arriving in Germany, with many articles written about the surrounding area and its history.

Below left, covered front entrance to the hospital (Medical Record Dept windows to the right of the door).
On the right, the front entrance with raised garden area.

Two Canadian facilities were the Black Forest Officers' Mess and Canadian Forces Hospital Europe.  Both were and still are just outside the former Kaserne back gate.  The latter was built by the Canadian government and opened in 1991.  Shortly after we learned that CFB Lahr would be closing, the decision was made to go ahead with the opening of CFHE as the hospital was almost completed.  I and my staff readied our Medical Records Dept for the big move, just as we were to do two years later when it officially closed.

On the left, the sign at the front of the hospital.  On the right, the emergency entrance.

The hospital is now a Heart Clinic, performing many heart operations a year.
  
The Black Forest Officers' Mess became a technical college and was renovated extensively inside, with the outside remaining much the same.  I am not sure if the college is still the occupant or not.

Three views below.



The following are a few pictures of some of the PMQs in Lahr and surrounding area.  I didn't get pictures from all areas.

Below, the former Package Store and Bank of Montreal area with PMQs above.  The Package Store is now a Turkish grocery store.


Area 31







One of the towers under renovation on the left



Two other PMQ areas were in Langenwinkel and Kippenheimweiler. 

A picture of Landgasthof Sonne on the corner


The traffic circle entering Langenwinkel on the left.  One of the streets into Langenwinkel on the right.






Below, former PMQs in Kippenheimweiler, one under renovation














Although the Kaserne is not easily recognizable today, the airfield is still much the same, except for the road leading from the back gate towards the marguerite.  Many huge transport and logistic companies and small businesses are now lining it with hundreds of trucks going in and out daily. 

Many former Canadian residents who lived in Lahr and the surrounding towns and villages with German landlords have returned to enjoy the good German food, wine, beer and Gemütlichkeit.  Germans today still tell us they miss the Canadians, many of whom they had befriended.  Quite a few Germans have also visited their friends in Canada.  Although things have changed, those years will not be forgotten.  The Canadian military years in Germany will remain in the memory and hearts of both the German people and those of us who had the opportunity to live and work here and experience that life.

Note:  To view the pictures in a larger format, just click on them.  To get back to the blog and other pictures, click on the arrow at the top left corner of the screen.

I shall be in Nova Scotia, Canada for the rest of the summer, writing my blog from there.  In the fall, on my return to Germany, it will be back to my regular blogs about the wine, food, beer and events here.

I wish you all a great summer!





37 comments:

  1. Lots of drinking been done in that place.

    http://canadianmilitaryandefence.blogspot.com/

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  2. Hi Janet,
    I enjoyed this article, especially the photos of the 5AMU. I used to work there in the canteen. Also, interesting to see what has happened to the Junior Mess Hall. I spent some time there with my friends.
    Love, Saby

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  3. hi Janet

    I<m proud to say that I was one of last who give birth in the knew hospital in march 1993 (17) mY Hubby was a medical assistant at that time. Proud to say that my daughter s learning Germand. I sure miss Germany. Someday I ll go back. Thank you for the picture and for all the memories

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  4. Hello, It's been a while since you commented and at the time I did answer; however, I don't see my comment as sent. Thank you for writing once again. I worked at the hospital until the end of July 1993, so was there when you had your baby. How is her German coming along?

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  5. Hi there, i was one of the last ones born in the new hospital as well Nov 30, 1992.
    I love this article and would love to go to Germany sometime and see where i was born, i now live in Saskatchewan.
    I've also been learning my german a bit too!

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  6. I lived in germany when i was 8, my "mother" worked at the canex...i made some friends there but unfrotunitly can't find any of them on facebook or anything...looking for a kimberly mcdonald...if anyone may know her, please let me know, i would really like to find her, thanks

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  7. Wow, thanks for the walk down memory lane. I lived in Lahr from 1978-82. I still remember our address...31-22-11. I was only 7 when we left, but I still remember so much of that time. What I would give to see all the friends I had from that time.

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  8. Wow, thanks for the walk down memory lane. I lived in Lahr from 1978-82. I still remember our address...31-22-11. I was only 7 when we left, but I still remember so much of that time. What I would give to see all the friends I had from that time.

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  9. What a great blog. Me and my family lived there from 78-81 and I still (very fondly) remember our pink building across from the VW dealership. And still have fond memories of Ms Monday's grade 1 class at Gutenberg school. My sister and I went back in 2005 and what awesome memories came flooding back.

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  10. Awesome stuff, and good memories.

    I was a kid living in the PMQs across from the Kaserne in 84/85. It was probably the best place you could be as a kid in Lahr. :)

    -The Fliegerhof had an awesome paved slope into it's parking lot which was great for roller skating down.
    -Literally just across the road was the Black Forest and a great place to explore or bike on the trails.
    -Living across from the CYC was also convenient if you were a kid. 50 pfennig soft drinks from the vending machines!
    -Let's not forget that back then the road outside the Kaserne was not paved, it was cobblestone!

    Thanks for the memories. :)

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  11. I was stationed in Lahr 1987-1993 with LMPS (Military Police) so I patrolled all the Canadian housing, base, and the local villages. Your photos brought back some pleasant memories. Nice job on updating everyone on CFB Lahr.

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  12. PMQ 13-3-5 from 80-83. Went to Gutenberg and left after grade 2. I have so much nostalgia built up inside me from those days. What a great place to be a kid. I drove through Lahr back in 2004 but couldn't get a sense for where I used to live. These pics are great.
    Sean

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  13. Hello

    Great shots.....loved seeing the place as it is now.

    We lived right about the Bank of Montreal. Glad to see the photo.....just wanted to let you know that you have the building listed as area 31 but the Bank of Montreal and the apts surrounding it was actually area 30. The bank of Montreal was area 30 building 1. Then in behind where the package store was the base chiefs house, a single home. Zinck was there when we were there. The there were 3 othr buildings heading towards the airfield way and all of those buildings were area 30.

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  14. these pictures sure bring back alot of good memories...especially CFN...I was an announcer there from 88-92...was posted to HQ and Sig Sqn at the Kaserne....thanks for the pictures...

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  15. Links to your blog were forwarded through 3 or 4 other people. Neat to see the pictures. i think I'll write you as well.
    Gillian

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  16. Janet,
    Thanks for the great photos, wonderful memories.
    It's been a long time.
    Manny Soberal Orleans ON

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  17. Great pics. I was a brat there...twice. 1968-1971 and 1974-1978 the last at 31-7-14

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  19. Very happy I came across your site, brings back a lot of good times. Luke aka Spunky Munkey.

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  22. Interesting 2 c the pics. was a lahr postie from 85 to 90. loved it and would could have lived there 4ever.

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  23. I lived in Lahr (Kippenheimweier)from 1971 until early '73 when we moved to Baden.I have never forgotten those days and would give anything to relive them.

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  24. We were there from 1984-1990. We spent two years at 31-5-12, then moved upstairs above the bakery in Hugsweir. I worked at AMSTO for a bit, then at the Education Office at K-11 in the Kaserne. Definitely a unique time in our lives.

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  29. Do you happen to remember the cross-streets where Area 31 was located? I am trying to find it on Google Maps ...

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  30. Was one of 'The Original 67's' when all of us (ex RCAF) were transfered to Lahr when Metz closed in 1967. Worked at 1 Air Div HQ typing room with fellow workers FSgt Bob Lourie, Sgt Saucier, LAC Marcel Girard and LAC John York. Lived close to HQ but spent most of my 'glory' nights at the Hufeisen Bar in Kippenheim where many Canadian and German friends would gather to enjoy the good beer and rastapoutz (strong stuff) . .Place was owned by Flora and Morag Clark was a favorite waitress. Regulars at Hufeisen were : Gerry Mathesson, Dick Rousseau, Ed Ramsay, Roger Lange, Ron Diano, Jack Champagne, Claude Parent and many more. Miss the Good Ol Days, Maurice Martin (Moe)

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  31. Wow brings back some great memories. Lived there as a brat from 76-81 on Max-Reger Strasse, went to Guttenburg Elem etc... I still recount to my kids my summers spent camping at Schuternn, travelling playing hockey, and getting into all kinds of trouble with our poor neighbors. It was an amazing place to spend a good chunk of my childhood.

    S.Hartling

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  32. 23-4-4 1979-83, 4CMBG MP Pl,,,,,,had a blast, people were great, food fantastic, country outstanding, would go back in an instant,,,,,my german is a bit rusty though,,,,,had great neighbours, broken german, broken English but we understood each other after a beer or two.....lol......thanks for this site,,,very interesting,,,,,things have changed a lot I see,,,,,,and that's a good thing I guess...did a lot of travelling both work wise and vacations.....mostly work being with the army......loved it.......keep posting,,,,great site.......wayne

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  33. What a great site. Thank you for this Janet. I don't know you but appreciate you taking the time to remind all of us who served in Germany. My wife and I were there for 5+ years and both of our daughters were born there.

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  34. What a great place to live. I am still thinking about Germany almost every day. It was our best posting ever. Thank you Janet for these photos and you were the best supervisor I ever had. Johanne Bouchard from Ottawa.

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  35. Hi together, i say only 3 Words: "We miss you!". I grow up with the canadians, we life together and partying together. It's so long ago. Please come back. All these good things are gone, the Christmas parade, the us cars on the street's, the friendly drivers, the tanks and the aircraft action and the canadian's. Greets also from Titts Hill (Schutterlindenberg) please vist Lahr again and look what we have done with your Base. Lahr is calling now "Little Moscow". :(

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  36. Was there from '73 - '77, lived in Area 31 and went to Lahr Senior. The photo of the CYC made me cry a little! Could it have been either Stephan or Jurgen who bought it? Many wonderful memories of the people and the place, think of it often....... closest thing to a "home town" that I had as a kid. Thanks..........

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