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German Unification Anniversary

22 years ago today, I was battalion duty officer for the 1/27 Field Artillery in Babenhausen in what, a few hours earlier, was West Germany. Admiral Jim Stavridis, the current SACEUR, reminded me of that anniversary (along with how damned old I’m getting; thanks, Admiral) today via Twitter.

The main thing I remember from that day was that, while the day was a training holiday for those of us not tagged for staff duty, a directive went out at closing formation the evening before that those of us who had to drive in to post should do so in civilian clothing and change into our uniform once we got there. There was evidently some concern that of the uniform somehow igniting latent nationalist resentments or some such. So far as I’m aware, the concern was unwarranted.

This hangs on my office wall:

 

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    I was in Graf in the field with C 1/27 when they were saying on AFN that the Berlin wall had opened, a vivid Cold War days memory for me and everyone else standing around my APC in Graf at 06:00 in the morning.

    .-)

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  2. Of interest in this regard is a recent piece in the The Guardian about continued cultural differences between western and eastern Germany, specifically in the area of religion.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    James, I had no idea you were a Red Sox fan.

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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Seriously, to have a front row seat to history, makes me jealous.

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  5. Dale Franks says:

    I was an International Military Policeman in the staff of HQ, Allied Forces Central Europe. And I can remember thinking, “Well, what’s our mission supposed to be now?”

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  6. Mark Ivey says:

    “Of interest in this regard is a recent piece in the The Guardian about continued cultural differences between western and eastern Germany, specifically in the area of religion.”
    —-

    Personally i don´t have a problem with “East German atheism” plus most of my Hessen German co-workers are defacto atheists, the lack of arguements over abortion and gay marriage here is refreshing.. :-)

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  7. John Peabody says:

    I was stationed with the SACEUR at SHAPE, Belgium. But I was a….musician for the US Army….I heard the news while driving to choir rehearsal a the International Chapel on base.

    Oh well, it takes all kind of people to make an army.

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  8. Mikey says:

    I was an Air Force TACP assigned to the Air Liaison Office of an armored brigade in Germany. My then-girlfriend, now-wife, born and raised in Germany, was as happy and amazed as any other German. But I don’t really remember much about that day, certainly not with the clarity I remember November 9, 1989, the day the Iron Curtain fell. Now THAT was something to be there for. Trabants EVERYWHERE.

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  9. ernieyeball says:

    @John Peabody: Oh well, it takes all kind of people to make an army.

    I once heard Jesse Ventura say that not everyone can be SEAL. Even the soldiers in the band are doing their service.

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  10. DC Loser says:

    This was all during the buildup for DESERT SHIELD. I was in the Air Force at Norton AFB, CA, one of the main MAC bases for getting troops from 29 Palms and Ft. Irwin to Saudi. I watched all the troops and equipment moving through the base and on the rails going to Long Beach to be embarked. In 1988 I was stationed in Belgium and made two trips to East Berlin before the wall came down.

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  11. James Joyner says:

    @DC Loser: Indeed, little did I know on October 3 that just a few days later @Mark Ivey and I would be told we’re about to get a free trip to Southwest Asia.

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  12. Mikey says:

    @James Joyner: Got the same word at the same time…deployed Christmas Eve of 1990. Worst. Christmas. Ever.

    I was in Germany from 1986-1993. All the former American forces stuff that was there when I was, is gone now. Most of the Kaserne at which I was stationed has been torn down, and what remains is being used by a German university. The commissary is now something that looks like a German Home Depot. My wife’s sister lives in what used to be American military housing, although it has been renovated and is far nicer than it was back then.

    The most amusing (for me, anyway) conversion I’ve seen is the former Bitburg Air Base chapel. It is now a strip club, the only strip club I’ve ever been to that has stained-glass windows.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The most amusing (for me, anyway) conversion I’ve seen is the former Bitburg Air Base chapel. It is now a strip club, the only strip club I’ve ever been to that has stained-glass windows.

    James, may I propose a once a week thread on veterans reminiscing on their days of service? I never did. But I could tell a tale or 2 related to my old man’s service in the Pacific during WWII…. Like the time he got bit on the nose by a rat while sleeping on his B-29 and had to go thru the full rabies shot program…

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  14. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    A great day. While I still consider the unification to have been premature economics-wise, it was a very moving moment.

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  15. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: This sounds like a great idea for a Tumblr. But, yeah, I should do more of these things. I’m getting old enough that I forget how unique some of the things I now consider mundane are in the real world.

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  16. Barry says:

    Thanks for posting this, James!

    I was in Germany from 81-83, at a time when the only way that people expected the Iron Curtain to ‘fall’ would be if a couple of thousand Soviet tanks knocked it down on their way west.

    I was in Baumholder.

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  17. ernieyeball says:

    I was 13 in 1961 when the wall went up. Even at that age I knew it was a bad development. A year later in 1962 the Cuban Missle crisis put the fear of Atomic war to me. When John Kennedy was shot dead like a dog in 1963 and adult men were crying in the streets it was difficult to be hopeful about the future.
    I have recently visited the National Churchill Museum on the campus of Wesminster College in Fulton, Missouri. It is the site of Sir Winston’s “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946.
    Part of the memorial consists of eight sections of the Berlin Wall transformed into the sculpture Breakthrough designed by Churchills granddaughter, artist Edwina Sandys.
    To see the remnants of the once ominous barrier made me wonder how the fools that erected it ever thought it would last.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Breakthrough_sculpture,_Westminster_College,_MO.png

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