Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Goodbye Wildflecken

Once the wall came down and the Soviet army began pulling troops out of the former East Germany Wildflecken changed from a vital intelligence link in the Fulda Gap to a tiny, inefficient outpost in the middle of rural Germany. Understandably the Germans were quite eager to repatriate some of the American bases, and Wildflecken was an obvious and early choice. We were going to have to move.

We loved Wildflecken - its quirks and its oddities. There were the 'Achtung! Frog!' signs posted along the tiny road to our apartment warning cars about the hazards of migrating amphibians. (I was never sure if it was a concern for the lives of the frogs, or a safety warning about the slippery road conditions, but it did give a great mental image of psychopathic frogs stalking the back roads of Germany) There were the solemn hikers who could be seen on weekends doing their well-organized walks along paved paths through forests of neatly aligned trees. At the end each walker was presented with a small medallion to stick on its walking stick, and the whole group celebrated with large amounts of beer. There was the Kruezberg - a monastery on top of a mountain that produces some of the best beer in Germany and has walls studded with warning signs: 'no alcohol permitted.' On weekends the place was stuffed with GI's, Australians, and locals. It's where I learned my first German drinking song (the lyrics are extremely difficult - they go 'eine bier, eine bier, eine bier hier, eine bier mehr, eine bier hier... this is repeated endlessly as required). There was the smell of flax flowers in the summer - heady and sweet - rising from the tiny, patchwork fields that were sometimes no more than a few yards across. There was the enormous cathedral, St Boniface, that held the remains of the missionary saint (and several bones from relatives as well, probably in the hopes that holiness, and the accompanying post-mortem miracle working, was genetic), and boasted at least one sliver from the True Cross. It lorded over the tiny, medieval abbey next to it, but I liked that building better. The crypt was cool and lovely, and the small room with the stations of the cross on the walls was beautifully simple after the baroque extravagance next door.

We would move from our tiny town of Sandberg (the second of that name that we lived in) to the Rhine valley, a block from the river.


Anonymous said...

my father was in the army...when i was four we lived in wildflecken ...i remember the frogs!!!!
and the monestary where the locals let my dog drink beer from thier mugs

For Kirk said...

Ah yes, I'd forgotten the dogs. Gives an American quite a start when a large labrador wanders up to you during dinner at a restaurant... good times.

Aaron said...

I miss Wildflicken. I was there from 89 to 91 in B Co, 54th Eng Btn. My best friend lived in a town called Langaliten (? spelling it like it sounded), and I remember those frog signs dotting the winding mountain road that lead to his house. I am looking for anyone i can find from my old unit - email me at romans833@yahoo.com

Pfc. Benge