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!


  1. Lots of drinking been done in that place.

  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

  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

  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?

  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!

  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

  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.

  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.

    1. hey i used to live at a similar address. i think it was 3-22-1 but maybe it was your address ;) 1986

  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.

  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. :)

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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...

  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.

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

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

    1. Anyone remember the bar Tonies???

    2. yes of course live music in the summertime outside in the beer garden

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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.

  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.

  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 ...

  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)

  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.


    1. I went to Gutenburg as well. My brother played hockey all over Europe. Amazing experience most CDN kids will never get to have.

  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 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

    1. I was LMPS same time as you. Probably worked together when you came down guardhouse.

  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.

  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.

  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". :(

  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..........

  37. Yes Lahr was great
    I lived there 1972-1994 great city great friends great history

  38. bob bill veronica timm22 December, 2014 21:09

    as a airforce brat one of many homes and lahr was the best 1969 71 age of 11 12 liveng down town away from pmq just down from the storks nest brother born there moved to comox bc still see friends from tjere 45years later good times thats forsure

  39. My Father in-law was the former Commanding Officer CFHE. Col. James C Dunfield MD CD.
    Jim passed away 4 years ago in St. Stephens NB

  40. Was there from 67-69 , the original campers (6 months camping) Worked on first line (104-s) for the duration, after the camping we got one of the best pmqs in area 9 just beside trails going in the black forest.
    these years were the best of my life and every dayi think about these days.I am thinking of going back this year or next. Unfortunately I never met anybody that was there a the time .
    My name is Claude Beauchamp I was called Beau. I live now in Gatineau and I am 73 yo.

  41. My son, who was born at the old CFH Lahr in 1978, sent this blog to me. It has been wonderful to go down memory lane and to see all the changes. I was in Soest from 68-70, and Lahr from 70-73 and again from 75-83. I graduated from Lahr Senior in 1972 and while a teen wrote a column for Der Kanadier and also did a few broadcasts from CFN. I cherish the years I spent there and would love to go back for a visit, especially since I've stayed in contact with some German friends. Janet, thank you so much for this site. By the way, your name is very familiar to me! My name is Sherryl (Hutchinson) Carroll.

  42. Marie-France Perrier23 February, 2015 12:06

    lived in area 7 on mozartstrasse (now Max Reger) from 69 to 71 my father was the mess manager of the officers mess at that time the second time my family was posted back to germany from 78 to 84 my father was the manager of the europahof and my mother worked at the LX on the caserne great memories

  43. Wow ! flows of memories and emotions !! was in Lahr from October 1988 to August 1992. First lived next to the Basar (not sure of the spelling) on the way to Offenburg, then lived in area 31. My daughter was only 9 months old when we moved there (from Petawawa) and my son was born in June 1992 at the new hospital at the Kaserne. I was a member of TOPS, sang in the choir and have the greatest memories of all the trips we took. Loved going to the EuropaPark...anyone remembers that place ? :D

  44. Thanks for the interesting blog. I posted a link to it on the Lahr Brts Facebook page

  45. Janet, Thanks for the memories. I worked as a Medical Officer there 1982-1985 and 1991-1993.
    It is interesting to me that a whole generation of Canadians was born in Lahr and is interested in seeing and discovering that special area.
    My colleague, Dr Warren Harrison was one of the obstetricians there in the 80's and 90's, delivered most of those now adults. He passed last June.
    Pat Nguyen

  46. would anyone know how to get medical records from the hospital? Where did they go since the old buildings are down? I was born in 86 on the army base. im canadian. im trying to get a hold of my records and birth certificate and it's impossible. canadian army says to call germany and germany says to call england because apparently canadians were born in a british hospital but they say to call canada. it's a loop. :( thanks.

    1. Hello Katie, My husband and I were posted to Germany from 1985 to 1988. I gave birth to our first son at the old hospital CFHE in the main base in Lahr, Germany. I think that the hospital was considered to be on Canadian soil, not British. We have a large birth certificate for him, which is written in English, French and German, which we were given when we were still living in Germany. We had to present that when we applied for a Canadian Citzenship for our son when we moved back to Canada, the card of which we did receive. He is an adult now and is in the Regular Armed Forces. It was a bit of a challenge to get the paper work done for him going overseas because he was not born in Canada, and then some of his ID was stolen when he was over there, but it all worked out OKay in the end. One note of caution: chidren born overseas of parents also born overseas will not be able to get a SIN card, so second generation Canadians born overseas cannot work in Canada nor get other Canadian privaleges (possibly medical coverage and pensions etc). So make sure that your children know this so that if they live overseas when they are adults, that they come home to Canada to give birth to their children. You can access military medical records through: Director Access to Information and Privacy (DAIP), National Defense Headquarters, 101 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa ON, K1A 0K2. Formal requests for personal information are made under the Privacy Act. To do this you must make your request in writing and sign it, identify the Personal Information Bank (PIB) number or provide sufficient information (such as your parent's name, rank and military idenfication number) and the location of the personal information (ie military medical records regarding the birth record of the baby born to the military member) to render it reasonably retrievable, abd be submitted in person, by mail or fax at (613)995-5777 to the DAIP. Do a Google search on "Access to personal information"+"NDHQ"+"Canada" and you will get the following article: DAOD 1002-1, Requests under the Privacy Act for Personal Information

  47. As a former Gunner with 1 RCHA A battery I had many a fun time there in Lahr. Had many friends and good buddies. I still keep in touch with a couple of them. It is good to see again after all these years. I was in Lahr in 1974 for 3 months then back in 75 for 3 months then was posted there in 1976 stayed there till my release in early 79. It brings back some very fond memories, and some not so fond Thank You for sharing this with us

  48. I was glad to see this. I was a member of 1 RCHA "A" battery and also of the Air defence battery. in the mid to late 70's 1974 to 1979 to be exact. I had a great time there and made some very good friends. Just seeing some of the pics was great. I also was a volunteer at the CYC for a couple of years.

  49. Hi Janet, about an hour ago I realized that I might 'find' you on. Google and I've been reading your blog ever since. I'm truly amazed and pleased that I can read everything you've written and see all the pictures of Lahr..... brings back so many wonderful memories of our time 'over there'..... what a great new career you've created for yourself....CONGRATULATIONS! on all your success as a journalist. Hopefully you'll receive this. Cheerio, Olive. (