Some time early in 1949, I read an article in an educational magazine about the Army Dependent Schools in Germany. The article announced the teacher recruitment schedule for persons wishing to teach in Germany. I showed the article to Hetty and said this could be our last opportunity to see Germany. I was afraid she wouldn’t like to go so far from home, but, instead, she said it wouldn’t hurt to send in an application form.
By the time I had filled out the forms and returned them, I knew I wanted very much to have a teaching assignment in Germany. While I waited for an invitation for an interview, I got out my German books to brush up on my reading and speaking ability. On the application form I included the names of five references who knew of my German background. I wrote each of them a letter asking permission to give their names as references.
In a short time I had a letter from Washington, saying my application for a teaching position in the American Army Dependent Schools had been received. The nearest recruiting center to my home was at the Emporia State Teachers’ College. The letter included the names of two recruiters; (I remember only Richard Meyering) and also the location, date and approximate time I should appear for an interview.
While waiting for the interview date, the school board offered me a contract for the following year with a raise from $4,200 to $4,500. I told the board then of my application for a position in Germany. My chances of getting the position were not good because teachers were being recruited from all over the U.S. As far as I knew I would be notified in June if I was selected. If nothing came if it, I would definitely want to return to Little River. The Board agreed to wait, if I would find a replacement for myself, if necessary.
The interview was neither encouraging nor discouraging. Mr. Meyering told me German nationals were teaching the German classes, and there was no plan to replace them. I had applied for a teaching position in order to have more free time than I would in a principalship. Mr. Meyering was mildly interested in my small school administrative experience. I recall telling Hetty when I got home that we probably wouldn’t hear any more about that!
My hopes rose two weeks later when there was a letter from Washington in the mailbox. It contained three short typed sentences, approximately as follows – Your credentials have been forwarded to Dependent Schools Headquarters in Karlsruhe, Germany. There may be an opening for a supervisor of German personnel. You will be notified in about two weeks.
I cannot recall the details of the next three weeks but when they were over, I had received two pieces of news, any one of which would have changed the course of my life, I’m sure. I believe the first one came from Hetty, although I am not sure. She told me one morning, “I think I am pregnant.”
The second piece of news was, of course, the anticipated letter from Washington D.C. This one had four sentences, I believe. I remember only the first sentence, “You have been selected.” My title would be Supervisor of German Personnel. I don’t remember the Civil Service rating but the salary was $4,500, plus 25% bonus for a hardship assignment, plus furnished living quarters and health care for myself and family. I was told to report to Fort Riley, Kansas, for physical and processing for overseas travel about August 1, 1949.
Hetty and I had immediate conferences in regard to both pieces of news. Of her pregnancy my first reaction was, “Are you sure?” She was 40 and would be 41 in July and this would be her first pregnancy. We decided to wait a month before telling anyone outside the immediate family. The doctor confirmed Hetty’s interpretation and also set our mind at ease about accepting the overseas assignment. I suggested perhaps we should give up going to Germany, but Hetty knew how badly I wanted to go, so when my selection was confirmed and I accepted, we knew we wanted both a child and the assignment.
The day the letter from Washington D.C. came, I drove to the country to see Paul Perry, Board Chairman, who was plowing. When he saw me walking across the plowed ground, he stopped the tractor and greeted me with, “So you are leaving us?” I nodded and said, “First of August.” “Just enough time for you to help us find a replacement for yourself.” Paul assured me the Board had been pleased with my work as Superintendent and that they all wished me well in my new endeavors in Germany.
I announced the vacancy to the College and University Placement Offices in Kansas and had quite a number of applications in a short time. I read the credentials provided for each applicant and eliminated all but three or four and asked these to come to Little River for interviews. The Board hired 52-year old R.C. Porter, who stayed in Little River as Superintendent for five years.
Hetty and I were busy persons for six weeks before our sailing date on August 8th. We were limited in what we could take along to Germany. I believe we finally took two footlockers and a large suitcase each to be checked through from New York City to Karlsruhe. In addition we could carry with us all we needed on the way. It was no small task to decide what to take and what to leave at Mabel’s, at my folks, at Dorothy’s and at Ruth’s. We didn’t want to sell our furniture for we expected to be in Germany one year, or, at the most, two years, before returning to the States.
At my office in Little River, I tried to leave everything in order so the new Superintendent would have no problem taking over the responsibilities. Mr. Porter spent two days with me at the school during which time I showed him the school records and walked through every room in the building, including the basement. I had prepared written memos about special subjects. One of these was the Dean Jones episode about the sawed-off locker padlock. I made a point of having all returning teachers meet Mr. Porter. We drove to Lyons where he met the County Superintendent and the officials in charge of surplus commodities used in the school hot lunch program.
Hetty and I finally took our leave from Little River to spend the few days left with family in Harper County, and in Hutchinson where we established our stateside address at 115 East 10th. There were last minute problems with official orders authorizing travel for both of us by car from Hutchinson to New York City. When these were resolved, we checked our hold baggage by train and ship directly to Karlsruhe, said our final good-byes and headed for New York City in our 1947 Dodge Coronet on August 1, 1949. What a relief it was to be finally on our way to Karlsruhe!
KARLSRUHE – 1949 – 1951
The drive from Hutchinson to New York City, beginning on August 1st and ending August 4th, 1949, left no details in my recollections, but I’m sure our thoughts and conversations included a number of subjects. From the first, I was enthusiastic about going to Germany. I wasn’t sure Hetty would share my feeling, but as the time of our departure neared, she seemed as excited as I. I guess our biggest concern was for the baby that was due to arrive around Christmas time. We had consulted doctors in Little River, Hutchinson and Anthony. They all assured us there was nothing to worry about.
Hetty was afraid she might get seasick as she had never been on a large body of water in an ocean liner. We both wondered if we had packed the right things to take along. Hetty spoke only English but hoped she could learn enough German to be comfortable among the German people we would meet. With my German language and Army background, I was looking forward to working with U.S. Army personnel and perhaps living in a German community. Neither Hetty nor I knew anyone in Europe although I had in years past corresponded with two or three German pen-pals. I did wonder if I would be able to locate Bruno Radtke, the visiting German Professor I had known at Kansas University (K.U.). I wondered what part, if any, he had played in WWII.
As we neared New York City, our immediate concern was to find the pier in New York where we were to leave our car to be shipped to Bremen, Germany. Following the instructions we had gotten, we had no difficulty in finding the pier and taking care of the paper work required. A military vehicle took us and our hand baggage to Fort Hamilton where we were assigned to quarters to occupy until we boarded the Holbrook, a troop ship, that would take us to Bremerhaven, Germany. The Holbrook was scheduled to sail on August 8th so we had a bit of time to spend as we wished. We had, of course, to report Hetty’s pregnancy and had an appointment with the ship’s doctor, who gave us appropriate instructions, and seasickness pills for Hetty to take.
We soon met other civilians who, like me, would be employed with the U.S. Army Dependent Schools. Several of these were from Hutchinson with names familiar to Hetty. However, we also met two couples who became long time friends – the Everett Ruby’s and the Walter Ingram’s. Most of those we met would be going to Germany for the first time. Everett Ruby was an exception to this. He had been employed by DSD (Dependent School Detachment) in 1947 and he and his wife were now returning to Germany after taking summer leave in the States. His position was that of Regional Superintendent in the Munich area.
Everett asked what position I would be filling and was surprised when I said “German Supervisor” in Karlsruhe. He said that couldn’t be because Al Beerbaum had that position. I showed him my orders and he had to admit I was right. I got the impression that Everett regarded Al Beerbaum so good in his position that it would be hard for anyone else to take his place. In the time we were together at Fort Hamilton and on the Holbrook, Everett learned enough about my German background to admit I was one of only a few who would be qualified to take Al Beerbaum’s place. Later I found Everett’s assessment of Al Beerbaum to be quite true and so I would have to do no less than my best in the position I had accepted.
While still at Fort Hamilton, Everett, Walter and several of us fellows were sent by our wives to Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees play a double-header. On the way to the stadium we passed a pool hall that had a television in the window. That was the first TV program I had ever seen. At the stadium I don’t recall who won the games, but I do remember seeing Phil Rizzuto, my favorite short stop, hit a homerun, and Joe Dimaggio hit a ground ball so hard that it was in the outfield before the in-fielders could move.
When Hetty and I boarded the Holbrook on the morning of Aug. 8, I was a bit surprised to find it was, indeed, a ‘troop ship’. There were compartments with double deck bunks, but no cabins for couples, even when one of us was pregnant. I found myself in a compartment with about 25 other men. That wasn’t too bad for me as it was still better than either of the two troop ships I’d been on before, but I did complain when I found they had put Hetty in a compartment with 46 women. I found the ship had nothing better to offer. Hetty was a good sport and said the other women were very considerate and helpful.
I don’t recall what the arrangements were for eating on the Holbrook, but couples did eat together. There were no storms on the 8-day voyage to Bremerhaven, Germany, so Hetty and I spent the days on deck, playing bridge, or socializing in other ways with our new friends. Some of the passengers wanted to learn German so I had a class once each day. Someone suggested a quartet to provide music at the Protestant services on Sunday morning. Everett and I ended up being half of a mixed quartet – he provided a strong tenor part while mine was a so-so bass.
We saw a few other ships on the way and I recall the “White Cliffs of Dover” as we sailed through the English Channel before docking at Bremerhaven, where representatives of DSD gave us a warm welcome and documents to authorize travel to our final destinations. I remember Hetty and I had to change trains at Frankfurt.
I remember it was dark when we arrived at the “Bahnhof” in Karlsruhe but we were immediately identified and transported to the Lutz Hotel on Krieg Strasse which was our home for a month or so. It was not a fancy hotel, but under the Occupation Agreement it had been turned over to the U.S. Army to provide temporary quarters for personnel until permanent quarters could be arranged
Fortunately, we arrived in Karlsruhe on a weekend and so were able to orient ourselves to our surroundings before I reported for duty at the Fiat Building on Monday morning. Across the street from our hotel was the Farmer’s Market, a large pavilion-type structure covering a city block. Although the streets had been cleared of rubble, there was ample evidence of bomb damage during the war which had ended a bit more than four years earlier. No reconstruction had been done and most business was done under temporary shelters in front of damaged buildings.
Beginning at Bremerhaven we had seen similar evidence of war damage all the way to Karlsruhe. At places it was much worse than at others. Kassel and Frankfurt were probably the worst after leaving the north coast. Heidelberg, by contrast, hadn’t been bombed at all. Karlsruhe was badly damaged, especially the Castle area which was occupied by a unit of German SS troops.
At Karlsruhe we were immediately among friends. At first there were the civilians and military personnel in the headquarters staff of Dependent School Detachment. This staff was responsible for the conduct and supervision of the U.S. Army Dependent Schools operating in the American Zone of Occupied Germany.
Before proceeding with my own involvement with the U.S. Army Dependent Schools, I will digress briefly to explain why, and how, these schools came into existence in the first place, and to observe their growth since their beginning in 1946.
When the war in Europe ended in 1945, Hitler’s Germany was in a state of total collapse. As a result of this, the armies of the three major Allied Powers overran the country, and then divided Germany into four zones, which were occupied and administered as follows: Russia in the east, Britain in the north, U.S. in the south-central, and France in the west. Berlin, the former German capital, now located in the Russian Zone, was similarly divided with each of the four countries occupying and administering a sector of the city. In the absence of the civil government, each occupying power imposed military government in its zone. Bonn became the new capital of West Germany.
By 1946, families of U.S. personnel involved with military government were joining their husbands in Germany and living in confiscated housing. The presence of American school age children made necessary the creation of the Dependent Schools Detachment which was staffed with civilian educators recruited from the States. With the U.S. Army providing the logistical support needed, the DSD staff opened the doors of 38 elementary and five high schools in the fall of 1946. By the end of the school year, the total enrollment in these schools was over 3,000. The North Central Association had accredited the high schools at Berlin, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Munich, and Nürnberg.
The stated purpose of the DSD staff was (1) to organize and maintain schools on both the elementary and secondary levels in U.S. military communities in Germany, and (2) to supply German educators with a model American school system in action, from which to draw inspiration for the reorganization and democratization of the German educational program. The schools were as American as could be, except the locale was that of a German community, some of the teaching staff were German nationals, and most of the children elected to learn to speak German.
The 1947/48 school year showed many changes. The physical appearance of school plants was greatly improved. Newly adopted textbooks and workbooks had arrived from the States in large quantities. Peak enrollment this year reached 4,200. The DSD program was now financed for the most part with funds appropriated by Congress, and the teachers were given Civil Service contracts for the first time.
During the third year, 1948/49, DSD continued to improve and grow. Peak total enrollment reached 5,146. There was difficulty in getting enough teachers from the States to take care of the increasing enrollment. Nearly half of the total enrollment was concentrated in kindergarten and the first two grades. In July 1948 the DSD Headquarters was moved from Frankfurt to Karlsruhe.
I may as well add here the statistics pertaining to the 1949/50 school year, my first with the Dependent School Detachment Headquarters Staff. There were now 36 kindergartens, 58 elementary schools, and seven high schools, with a total enrollment of 8,200. Teaching in these schools were some 325 American teachers, and more than 200 German assistants. The course of study used in both the elementary and high schools compared favorably with the best offered in the States.
In charge of the Headquarters Staff were Colonel Albert, Chief, DSD, and Virgil Walker, Chief, Education Branch. Other personnel included Richard Meyering, Chief, Secondary Education Branch; Fred Miller, Chief, Elementary Education Branch; Lauren Buel, Chief, Personnel Administration; Sarita Davis, Chief, Library Section; Ralph Stutzman, Chief, German Language Section; George Fuhrman, Chief, Fiscal Section, and Captain Tragle, Chief, Supply Branch.
Of course, there were assistants and secretaries to the above. In addition, there were five Regional Superintendents with offices in Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, Munich, and Nürnberg, also regarded as part of the headquarters staff. The Superintendents served as the first line of communication between the school principals and the Headquarters Staff, located in the Fiat Building in Karlsruhe, about half a mile from the Lutz Hotel.
At the Lutz, Hetty and I had one room with minimum furnishings to call our own. It was at the back of the hotel on an upper floor. There was one window which gave a limited view of discolored roofs and very little blue sky. Of course, we could go down stairs and share the lounge with the other hotel guests, but Hetty was beginning to show her pregnancy, and would have preferred a more private place for her daytime rest, which the doctor insisted she take. We were told we would soon be moving into a German apartment where she wound be more conformable.
Fortunately, our new acquaintances included two couples who insisted on including us in their social life and shared their homes for many pleasant evenings and weekends together. They were Virgil and Bonnie Walker, and Fred and Ina Miller. Both of them lived in German houses and had German maids to do most of their housework. The Walkers were about our age and loved to play bridge. Virgil had been a Lt. Col. in the Army at the end of the war when he took his discharge, and was appointed as Civilian Director to organize the professional staff of DSD in 1946. Fred and Ina Miller were older than we and were also from Kansas where Fred had been in schoolwork in the Salina-Topeka area. In recent years he had served in the State Superintendent of School’s office in Topeka as Elementary School Specialist until he was recruited by DSD in 1947. Ina practically adopted Hetty and they became close friends. Hetty needed a close friend like Ina, especially for the next five months.
I was pleased to find, when I reported for duty at the Fiat Building that Al Beerbaum, whose position I was taking, was remaining for three weeks to be my guide and orient me to the responsibilities of my position. He had been with DSD from the beginning and had developed the German language program used in all grades. As I had been told when I was interviewed at Emporia, all German teaching was done by native Germans, who also performed other duties to assist the American teachers and administrators. As stated before, there were some 200 German personnel thus employed. I was to be in charge of the German language program, and to act as advisor to schools principals and superintendents in all matters pertaining to German personnel.
Al Beerbaum had the work of the German Language Section so well organized, and the lines of communication with German personnel and school principals so well established, that I needed but to follow the guidelines that existed, for the time being. The first week Al and I spent the time talking with all personnel in Headquarters, German and American. Al was very thorough and well liked by everyone. He had been born in Germany and had his early schooling there although his degrees were all from American universities and he had served in the American Army during the war.
In anticipation of the war reparations that Germany would eventually have to pay, the German personnel employed by the Americans were paid by the German economy. This included also the German women who worked as maids for Americans. Naturally my work required that I be familiar with both American and German personnel procedure.
The Army Hospital was located in Heidelberg about 35 miles from Karlsruhe. Hetty and I had an appointment with a doctor there a few days after arriving. The doctor, an Army captain, had received Hetty’s medical records from Fort Hamilton. During our conference the doctor suggested that we might want to consider a Cesarean operation since she was 41 and this would be her first baby. He explained what the operation involved and told us to think about it. This was eventually the method of delivery used.
Al Beerbaum and I spent two weeks traveling to schools and meeting as many principals and German personnel as possible. At the end of that time Al said that I would do well. My facility with German language had improved rapidly so that Germans I met were sure I had been born in Germany. When I told them this was my first time in Germany and that my German-speaking ancestors had landed in Philadelphia in 1727, they could hardly believe it. I appreciated especially having spent these two weeks with Al for it answered most of the questions I could have asked.
At each military installation we visited, we stopped first at the office of the Post Commander to report that we were making a visit at the school. If the military School Officer was available, I was introduced to him and he might accompany us to the school. His function was to perform the non-academic services needed which included the maintenance and furnishing of the building selected for the school, providing transportation of pupils, plus other duties assigned by the Post Commander. Al pointed out it was most important to report my presence to the Commanding Officer (CO) before going to the school when making a visit. At some posts the CO also requested an exit report. I soon found it made for better relations to make the exit report at all posts.
After Al Beerbaum left DSD to complete his doctorate at the University of Michigan, I was on my own with an assignment for which I was well qualified by background and training. Although I had been disappointed to be sent to the China-Burma-India theater (CBI) instead of Europe during the war, I found this may have been a blessing in disguise, for I now felt no resentment against the German people. The U.S. Military Government was in the process of launching exchange programs in the three German States in the American Zone – Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, and Hesse – to supplement the Marshall plan, already being implemented to help war-damaged countries rebuild. These programs not only brought a return to productive living, but they also helped change the attitudes of people. The official attitude towards Germans was now to be one of friendliness, rather than as a conquered nation.
During the fall months of 1949 I spent about half of my time traveling to the American schools, getting acquainted with post commanders, school officers, principals and German personnel. When possible, group meetings were held where I had the opportunity to express my enthusiasm for joint programs with German schools in the community for the purpose of developing good relations between Germans and Americans. I encouraged principals to get acquainted with their counterparts in German schools, where this had not already been done, and get as much faculty involvement as possible. In a few cases I accompanied the principals in their first visits to the ‘Schuldirecktor’ of a nearby German ‘ Volkschule’ or ‘Gymnasium’! It was in these situations that my knowledge of German language, history and literature, was helpful.
In a short time I was quite in love with my work and the German countryside, where the war had not left its scars. I had heard of the ‘autobahns’ before. Unfortunately, all the bridges on the autobahns had been destroyed by American and British bombs and were not yet rebuilt. Between military installations my travel was mostly by train, and free, because I was a part of the occupation forces. On the military installations, I was provided with a military vehicle and German driver. The vehicles were usually German Opels or Taunus. The commuter trains stopped in every village and they were always on time. Although I was authorized to travel first class, I preferred second class because I could often strike up a conversation with a German person.
At the office in Karlsruhe I was soon given additional duties to add to the list on my original job description. I was put in charge of news items regarding the dependent schools to be released for publication in Stars and Stripes. I prepared statistical data regarding the schools for the U.S. Army in Europe Historical Division (USAREUR HQ was located in Heidelberg). Whenever an Army, Navy or Air Force General was invited to speak at DSD teachers’ or administrators’ meetings, I was always called upon to assist an Army officer in writing the speech. For these special assignments, I was accountable to Colonel Albert rather than to Virgil Walker.
After living at the Lutz for six weeks or so, Hetty and I were moved into a small apartment near the city park and not far from the railroad station. The apartment was completely furnished and we were then eligible to have a maid. As a member of the occupation forces I was entitled to family quarters, a maid, medical services, and public transportation, without cost to me. Both Hetty and I had official passes which gave us the same privileges as Army Officers had. German citizens were still rationed for a number of food items so we did our grocery shopping at the Army Commissary.
About the 1st of December Hetty and I paid a visit to our doctor at the Army Hospital in Heidelberg. We had already agreed on delivery of the baby by Cesarean operation. After a final examination and conference, the doctor, an Army Captain, set the time and date of the operation at 9.00 a.m. on December 22. I was instructed to bring Hetty to the hospital the previous day. I do not remember what all we did during the three weeks Hetty and I waited for the so-called ‘blessed event’. There is just so much preparation that can be made. I had employed a maid soon after we moved our few personnel belongings into the apartment. We had never had a maid and didn’t really need one until the baby carne, but all of our American friends had maids, so I guess we were just keeping up with the Jones’s!
Our first maid was Margaret, a very plain young woman who had grown up on a farm near Heilbronn, east of Karlsruhe. She had younger brothers and sisters and we regarded that as a plus. She was married to a scholarly student who was attending the Technical University in Karlsruhe. We soon learned that Margaret’s parents had not approved of the marriage. As a consequence, the young couple left their home community and were living without assistance from their families. In post-war Germany that was difficult. She and her husband lived in one room in the very top of a private home. From her description I would say it was what we would call an attic. She was a good maid except that she was a poor cook, and spoke almost no English at first. Unfortunately, Margaret left us after eight months, when she and her husband emigrated to South Africa.
Letters from home were an important part of almost every day. Our mail was delivered to my office but letters were never opened until I got home in the evening. I remember I was asked to report at the mailroom one day to identify a package addressed to me. The package was crushed and had a very strong odor. When I took the package apart in a garbage can, I found it contained the remains of a badly spoiled head of lettuce. The return address on the package could not be read. When I got home I told Hetty about the package and she admitted writing to Pauline Brayton in Little River that the one thing she missed in Germany was a head of lettuce. As a joke Pauline and Dan had wrapped a head of lettuce and mailed it to us. Unfortunately, the package traveled by ship and was more than two weeks in transit. I believe the only person who didn’t think it was all a very funny practical joke were the men in the Post Office. In time, our friends in little River all heard about it.
Finally, December 21st arrived and Hetty and I kept our appointment with the doctor in Heidelberg. I would be less than honest if I did not admit that I was nervous. From what the doctor told us, I knew this would probably be our only opportunity to have a child. He also told us the baby would probably be a girl because examinations showed the baby had small bones.
Hetty was calm and seemed not at all nervous when the doctor received us. After asking if we had any questions about the operation, he assured us there was nothing we should worry about, and told me I was dismissed until the next morning. If I wished to see my wife before surgery, he said, I should be at the hospital by 7 am.
That evening DSD Headquarters held it’s annual Christmas Party in Karlsruhe. It included American and German personnel with spouses. Hetty would have enjoyed the party, of course, but under the circumstances she was excused and I got more attention than I really deserved. The German secretaries particularly took notice of Hetty’s absence and asked about her. I told them I had taken her to the hospital that afternoon. Then they wanted to know when the baby was expected. To this answer, “Tomorrow morning” (or “Morgen fruh” if they asked in German), they broke out laughing, of course, and said that was just like a man who thinks he knows exactly when a baby would be born. I didn’t explain.
I don’t think I slept much that night. I remember I got an early start to Heidelberg and arrived at the hospital shortly before 7:00 am. However, a nurse told me Hetty had already been taken to surgery and I might as well take a long walk as there would be nothing to report before 9:00. The Neckar River was about two miles from the hospital and it was where I took my walk.
When I walked into the hospital at 9:00 am. a nurse was looking for me. The smile on her face was encouraging, so I leaned against the wall to hear whatever news she had for me. She must have done this numerous times before because it was quite a ritual. She began by saying I had just become a father and she gave me the exact time. The baby weighed 6 lbs. and 1 oz. After what seemed like an age, she got around to what I was waiting to hear, “Your wife and son came through the ordeal very well and you will be seeing them both in about an hour.” When she said ‘son’ I might have fainted if I hadn’t been learning against the wall. I was expecting a daughter, but I guess I really wanted a son.
Hetty was as surprised as I, and I remember her eyes opened wide when I said, “Thank you for giving me a son!” She looked at me intently and said, “Are you sure?” We had picked two names – Judy and Hubert, just to be on the safe side.
On the way to Hetty’s room, the nurse had taken me past the nursery where two babies were lying in bassinets behind the glass partition. When the nurse stopped to look at the babies, I assumed one of them must be Hubert. Sure enough, the smaller of the babies wore a bracelet with the name “Hubert” showing plainly.
I cannot recall clearly the events of the thirteen days that passed before the doctor permitted me to take Hetty and Hubert home with me. I do remember making the telephone call that was expected by our families in Kansas. It had been agreed that I would call Mabel in Hutchinson and she would call Dorothy in Harper. Those two would spread the word that would have to do until I could find time to write letters.
Since Hetty and Hubert would be in the hospital on Christmas Eve, it had been arranged that I would have dinner that evening with Frau Steindamm and her two maiden daughters, Brigette and Inge. Herr Steindamm was still being held as a prisoner-of-war by the Russians. Brigette, in her early 20’s, was working as a maid for one of the American DSD couples in Karlsruhe, and had been the first adult German we met. Through her we came to know her mother and sister who lived in Heidelberg about a mile from the hospital.
Hetty had a normal recovery from her surgery but there was a problem with Hubert when the formula the doctor prescribed didn’t seem to agree with him. He weighed only 6 lbs. 1 oz. at birth and soon lost a pound. Hetty could have gone home at the end of five days but the doctor said Hubert would have to stay in the hospital until a suitable diet could be found. Hetty also stayed.
By the end of thirteen days the situation with Hubert’s formula was straightened out I paid the hospital bill ($21.00) and carried Hubert to the car where Hetty held him on her lap for the ride to our apartment in Karlsruhe. For years afterwards, Hetty and I often recall that day as a turning point in our lives. Life for us was never the same again. Hubert’s arrival added a new dimension to our daily activities and our future plans would involve him also for many years to come.
I remember my first workday at the office after Hubert was born. The German secretaries, who had asked about Hetty at the Christmas party, came at once to ask if the baby arrived. I assured them it had and that it was a boy. They congratulated me, of course, and asked when the event had taken place. I then reminded them of our conversation at the party. They laughed and said they knew that was only a guess. I said I had told them correctly, for the baby was born the next morning and they were really surprised. Later in the day I admitted to them I had known three weeks in advance that the baby would be born at 9:00 Am. on December 22nd. To explain this I added another word to my German vocabulary – Kaiserschnitt which means ‘Cesarean operation’.
Although other DSD headquarters staff couples had children living with them. Hetty and I were the only couple with an infant. For a month or so, Hetty and the baby went out very little, if at all, for it was wintertime with snow on the ground. After that, our social activities went on almost as before.
Having a maid who had previous experience with babies helped a lot, but Hetty was very particular about Hubert and insisted on feeding and dressing him until he was five months old, except when I took over those duties for short periods of time when I was at home in the evenings and on week-ends. I was quite proud of myself when we discovered I could put Hubert to sleep better than anyone else. He was so small and I could cradle him in my hands or drape him over my shoulder and walk slowly around the room a few times, humming the tunes of lullabies I recalled from my own childhood, until he gave a deep sigh and was sound asleep.
The close association with Fred and Ina Miller that began when we arrived in Karlsruhe, developed into a mutually enjoyed friendship after Hubert was born. They took such a liking to Hubert that they seemed like members of our family. When I was traveling during the week, Hetty and Ina were usually together at some time each day. As Hubert became older he regarded the Millers as ‘Uncle Fred’ and ‘Aunt Ina’. The Millers also had a maid, Frau Bullman, who became a part of our extended Karlsruhe family, which also included Virgil and Bonnie Walker, of course.
My official duties as Chief of the German Language Section, and other assigned projects, continued to be challenging, demanding, and enjoyable. Colonel Albert assigned still another project in the spring of 1950, which I accepted with enthusiasm.
I believe I mentioned before that the official emphasis of U.S. Military Government at this time was to improve German-American relations in the U.S. Zone. Colonel Albert called me into his office soon after the first of the year to say that a committee was being formed at USAREUR Headquarters in Heidelberg in order to formulate the program required to implement the new emphasis. He said he was appointing me to represent DSD on that committee which would consist of five members and be headed by a General, whose name I have forgotten. Colonel Albert said my responsibility would be to formulate in writing the part the U. S. Dependent Schools should play in improving German-American relations.
I had never served on a committee with a General before and so was impressed with the first meeting at which I was the only civilian. It was a ‘get acquainted’ meeting at which the General explained the purpose of our meeting. After that he made individual assignments and explained that the program we were concerned with was a priority for which we had three weeks to prepare and present it in final form. The General said our unit commanders had been instructed to excuse us from our regular duties until this project was completed.
After consulting my supervisor, Virgil Walker, and other DSD staff members who would be concerned with the program I formulated, I also called a number of school principals to explain what I was doing and ask for suggestions. Karlsruhe was capital of the State of Baden and had its own Ministry of Education. The officials I consulted there were in full agreement with the proposals I made and promised full cooperation.
Most of the three weeks I devoted to this project were spent in a private room where I would not be disturbed. My secretary, Freda, took notes on all phone calls and left them on my desk. By working long days and a few evenings, I had my first draft completed early on the third week and discussed my work with Colonel Albert, who made no suggestions except to say he would approve the proposed program if I would first get the approval of Walker, Meyering, and Miller. Since I had consulted these men several times before, that was no problem.
A week after I submitted my report to the committee in Heidelberg, Colonel Albert called me to his office to say my portion of the committee report had been accepted as submitted and would be distributed by USAREUR Headquarters to all military installations in Germany. Before I could respond, Colonel Albert deflated my ego by saying, “Stutzman, now that we have gone on record as having a program to improve relations between Germans and ourselves, I want you to know that I don’t care if we do any of those things, or not.” Then he dismissed me after thanking me for the work I had done.
When I told Virgil Walker what the Colonel had said, he turned red and looked as hurt as I felt. I didn’t mention the incident to anyone else but I remember that I never saw Colonel Albert afterwards that I didn’t recall his statement. In the meantime working with schools principals, I continued to promote the exchange and cooperative activities started earlier with German school personnel.
As time passed, Hetty and I became aware of something taking place between some Americans and Germans that wasn’t entirely above board. Americans with the occupation forces in Germany were not allowed to have American currency, but instead were issued script, which Germans could not have legally. Script could be spent only at the Army Commissary and PX. Americans could, however, buy legally, German marks at exchange rate of 42 Marks for $1.00. Two items which the Germans wanted especially were cigarettes and coffee, but couldn’t get on the German market, except at a very high price. Both these items were rationed for Americans at the PX and Commissary but the ration allowance was liberal and the cost quite low. For instance, an American could buy a carton of cigarettes for $1.00 at the commissary and exchange it for 50 Marks from a German of the black market. That explained why a few of our American friends wanted us to give them our extra cigarettes and coffee coupons. Hetty did not smoke, neither did Hubert, although I was given cigarettes and coffee ration coupons for the both of them. We both regarded the black market as illegal and, fortunately, by the time we learned how the game was played, the black market was discontinued by stricter law enforcement, which also stopped the monthly trips to Switzerland by some of the Americans to exchange illegal German marks for American dollars at the legal exchange rate. Because it was a hush-hush subject, we never learned exactly how long it bad been going on.
I should have mentioned above that most of the local black marketing by Americans were done by women and single men, probably because they did most of their shopping at the commissary and PX, and also because German police and MP’s paid less attention to them. I do recall one incident when the wife of a U.S. military officer was shopping in downtown Karlsruhe while dressed very casually. The German Police mistook her for a prostitute and arrested her. When she was unable to identify herself as American, she was taken to the U.S. post commander for questioning. After her true identity was established, her husband, a lieutenant, was called in and reprimanded for allowing his wife to go downtown without being properly dressed.
Even though almost five years had passed since the war in Germany had ended, there were some American military personnel who still regarded all Germans as enemy and treated them very badly. In my opinion the Germans were well behaved and properly respectful when speaking to persons they knew to be Americans. Soon after our arrival in Karlsruhe, before my German was as fluent and proper as it later became, I was shopping in a German market and using the German I knew best – a mixture of Pennsylvania Dutch and high German. I felt the man who waited on me was not particularly polite and mentioned this to a German friend later. He was surprised and asked if the man knew I was American. He concluded that the merchant had mistaken me for a German and treated me accordingly. After that I was more careful and usually asked when I went shopping, “Does anyone here speak English?” After an English speaking person came to wait on me, I spoke only in German. Invariably I was complimented on my excellent German. By the time I explained my German background, I knew I had another German friend.
When the weather was nice, Hetty and I took drives out into the countryside on weekends. Sometimes we went with Hubert along in the bassinet on the backseat, or on the car seat between us. Sometimes the Millers rode with us, or we with them, and we took pictures of sights we wanted to remember, but also some that were grim reminders of the war. Two of the latter were the towns of Bruchsal between Karlsruhe and Heidelberg, and Pforzheim between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart. Both Bruchsal and Pforzheim were completely destroyed during the war, the former in a night bombing raid by American bombers in retaliation for the killing of an American pilot by Bruchsal farmers after the pilot parachuted to the ground from his disabled plane. Pforzheim suffered a similar fate under different circumstances during a daylight raid by British bombers. This town of some 35,000 population lay nestled in a narrow valley with wooded hills rising on both sides. Intelligence reports indicated skilled artisans were secretly manufacturing delicate electronic instruments essential to night navigation in small shops located in private homes hidden on the wooded hillsides of Pforzheim. The inhabitants were used to hearing squadrons of British bombers fly over at high altitudes on their way to bomb Stuttgart, Augsburg, Munich, or other targets. When sirens announced the approach of bombers, everyone went to the bomb shelters until the sirens signaled ‘all clear’.
On the day of the bombing, the planes passed over as usual at high altitudes and were soon out of sight. Instead of continuing to the east, the bombers circled sharply and dropped low to approach Pforzheim at treetop level just when the workers were returning to their shops. The bombing continued about twenty minutes but when it was over, no building in the valley was left standing and some 27,000 were dead or missing. The day Hetty and I first saw Pforzheim, there were still hundreds of small wooden crosses stuck on the piles of debris, each one bearing the name of the person and the date in 1944 when the bombing took place. Other reminders of the war included blown up bridges on the Autobahn, and the remains of steel-reinforced concrete bunkers which had been a part of the Siegfried line of fortifications along the east bank of the Rhein River from north Germany to the Swiss border. It seems almost a shame to describe these ugly reminders of the war when otherwise the countryside was so beautiful and well maintained, especially the Black Forest area which stretched from Karlsruhe to the Swiss border.
During Easter vacation, a three-day teacher-administrator conference was held in Berchtesgaden for all DSD personnel. Spouses were also included. Hubert was about four months old so we took him along. As it turned out, there were several baby-sitters available at the Berchtesgadener Hof where we stayed so Hetty was able to take the tours planned for wives while the men were attending conference meetings. At the end of the conference, Hetty and I took a sightseeing tour of our own to the beautiful area where Adolf Hitler and his close associates had private homes. All the buildings had been partially destroyed by SS troops at the end of the war. However I was able to take some pictures and to go inside of Hitler’s house. The floor had been torn out but there were planks to walk on. The glass had been broken out of the large bay window that provided a beautiful view of the valley and Berchtesgaden. Inside, I was shown the two rooms occupied by Hitler and Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress, whenever they were at Berchtesgaden. I am glad we took that little tour because the next time we were at Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s home, and those of his associates, had been removed with no signs left to show where they had once stood.
On our return we stopped for a day in Munich to visit Everett Ruby and his wife. I had been in Munich the previous fall while visiting schools in that area. I recall that Everett and I attended the Octoberfest together and it was quite an experience. I never saw so much beer and roasted chickens consumed before. This time Everett took us to Dachau where we saw what remained of one of Hitler’s concentration camps.
In May the school year came to an end and the high schools all had commencement exercises. Hetty and I attended the one held in the banquet room of the famous Heidelberg Castle for the seniors of Heidelberg High School. A U.S. Navy Admiral gave the commencement address. I remember that we all wondered if the Admiral had stopped at the gigantic wine cask, for which the Castle is famous, to have a drink with Perkeo on his way to the banquet hall. He had difficulty reading his speech. I remember also that I hoped no German guests had been invited to hear the address.
Elementary schools also had appropriate ‘end of school’ programs. As was the case with all school activities, adults of the military community gave excellent support and it was often difficult to find rooms large enough to accommodate those who wished to attend school programs of any kind. In my first year I was convinced that the teachers and administrators recruited in the States for DSD schools were, in general, superior. Minimum qualifications for employment as a teacher was a BA, or BS degree and two years experience at the subject or grade level for which he, or she, was applying. Principals had to have MA degrees and five years experience, of which two were in administration. Actually the qualifications of those employed were well above these minimum requirements. An additional consideration recruiters looked for was attitude toward Germans and/or living in a military community. Another plus for the Army dependent schools was that the children from homes where the father was either a sergeant or a commissioned officer had better than average discipline. In my opinion, these children adapted better to school discipline than in average stateside communities. Military fathers generally cooperated well with school principals and teachers.
While I am making compliments, I’ll add one more. This one is for the German children I observed walking to and from school as I traveled between American schools in the three German states that made up the American Zone. I was much impressed by the self-discipline of these children. Before I had gone to Germany, I had heard many adult Americans say, “In Germany school children are taught to obey, in America we teach them to think.” The insinuation was that Germans do not learn how to think. Several times I stopped to ask directions to the next town from groups of German school children probably 10 to 12 year olds. I did this mostly to see their reaction to a man in an official American car who asked directions in German. Soon half a dozen boys were trying to help me. When I was about to drive on, one of them asked if I was an American. I said I was and drove away with a broad Kansas smile on my face.
At the end of the school year, American teachers took one of three options. About 1/3 returned to the States, and of those who stayed and planned to teach again the following year, some elected to travel in Europe during the summer and the rest stayed on duty at their schools, or attended summer workshops at designated centers. I conducted workshops for the German language teachers, and also with American teachers who wished to promote German-American exchange programs in the communities where they were teaching. I was as busy during the summer as when schools were in session, but there was also time for travel and recreation.
As had been the practice since the dependent schools opened, two recruiters were sent to the States in February to interview teachers and administrators for employment the following school year. Because of the steadily increasing school population, this was difficult to plan. However, there were quite a few fully qualified teachers among the wives of military personnel already in Germany who could be employed and paid with non-appropriated funds (profits from Class VI ‘liquor’ stores) to fill vacancies. In fact, kindergarten teachers were all paid from these funds.
Sometime in the winter of 1950 tickets were being sold for the Passion Play that would be presented at Oberammergau, beginning in May and continuing through September, with from two to four performances each week. We were among the DSD headquarters personnel who got tickets for the same performance during the last week in May. I still have the original hand-written copy of the letter we duplicated and sent to our family and close friends after attending the Passion Play. That letter contains some local flavor and detail that I couldn’t possibly recall from memory. I quote:
“Dear Folks – 30 May 1950
Well, here we are home again after another trip. In order to give everyone as much information as possible, I’m resorting to my old tricks of using carbon copies. The first copy goes to the folks at Crystal and we hope the rest of you can read the copy you get. Hetty and I got home at 3:00 this afternoon. We left Oberammergau at 8:30 this morning. From there to Augsburg we had ordinary narrow roads lined with trees so close, and with the roads so winding, that we couldn’t make good time. Also there were many people on bicycles, walking or in slow vehicles, on the roads that passed through many villages. On this stretch of road we passed Landsberg where Adolph Hitler was imprisoned while he wrote his famous “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle).
From Augsburg to Karlsruhe we had Autobahn (four lane highway) and we moved right along at 50 to 60 mph. We stopped for lunch at an American snack bar beside the Autobahn between Ulm and Stuttgart. The weather was nice so it was a beautiful drive with wooded hills and valleys almost all the way.
Hubert was asleep when we got home but woke up soon afterwards. We had a lot of fun getting reacquainted with him as this was the longest we had been away from him. Inge (the maid) said that he had been good all the time we were gone. He acted very happy to see us but he is always that way.
Now I’ll have to take you back to last week to bring you up to date. I left here Thursday morning to take care of some business in Stuttgart and Augsburg and then drove on into Munich that evening. On Friday forenoon I was at the DSD High School track meet, and in the afternoon attended the Regional Superintendents’ meeting. Virgil Walker and Fred Miller were also there from headquarters. The conference lasted until 10:00 that night so I stayed overnight again in Munich, although I had planned to drive to Bad Tölz that night to see the school principal.
The weather was bad and it had rained all day so it wasn’t hard for me to decide not to drive into new country late at night.
Before I left Karlsruhe, I had arranged for Hetty to ride to Oberammergau with some of the girls from the office, one of whom had a car. Our reservations had been made at Oberammergau shortly after Christmas so we knew where we would be staying and agreed to meet there on Saturday afternoon.
I was planning to drive alone from Munich to Oberammergau on Saturday, but at breakfast I ran across Sarita Davis, DSD Librarian, and she decided to ride with me rather than to go by train. About half way to Oberammergau we caught up with Fred and Ina Miller when they stopped to take pictures. Together we stopped to eat lunch as a castle at Murnau and after that we followed them to Oberammergau. They had been there before and knew the way. We arrived a little after 3:00 p. m. and Hetty arrived about 45 minutes later.
In Oberammergau we stayed in a house that was arranged to take in roomers and boarders during the Passion Play season. Eleven of us were from Karlsruhe plus two women, one from Holland and one from Munich. Our package reservations was for three days and we would attend the Play on Monday. The rest of the time we could spend as we wished but we were expected to eat all our meals at the house where we stayed. The dining room was just large enough for all of us.
The man who had originally owned the house must have been a great hunter for the walls of the dining room were covered with mounted birds and animals. A girl in Bavarian costume waited on us, not only at mealtime, but with anything that would make us more comfortable. She didn’t understand a word of English so Fred Miller and I did most of the talking with her. Fred’s German was a mixture of a dialect he had known as a boy, and what he had picked up in two years of being in Germany.
Hetty and I had very nice room but it was unheated. Just after we arrived the weather had turned cold so we really did need the foot thick feather ticks on the bed. In our room we had a choice of wearing coats or going to bed. They did put a stove in the dining room. We slept well the three nights we were there and the meals were very good without being elaborate. We were told the man who presently owned the house, played the part of the Apostle Thomas in the Passion Play.
Oberammergau is not a large town, as German towns go. At the present time the population is about 5,000, which is twice what it was before the war. The increase is mostly displaced persons (D.P.’s) from the Russian Zone. As you may know, a deadly plague was taking the lives of the people of Oberammergau in 1634 until the people vowed to present a play showing the suffering and death of Christ each ten years, if the plague which was then raging through the village would be taken away. History records that there wasn’t a single death from the plague after they had made the vow.
Since that time the people of Oberammergau have presented the Passion Play every ten years. Normally the play is given on years divisible by ten but the last performance was in 1934, which was the 300th anniversary of the original vow. It was not given in 1940 because of the war. The performances this summer are the first since 1934.
There are about 1700 individuals in the play, counting the children. Formerly no one who had not been born in Oberammergau could be in the play, but that isn’t quite true this year. However, the principal actors still must be born there. No married woman can have a part. There is no make-up used on anyone. One of the first things we noticed on the streets was the men with long hair and beards, and young boys with long hair.
I am getting ahead of myself. We didn’t see the Passion Play until yesterday (Monday). On Saturday night we walked through the town, looking at all the woodcarvings and paintings that were for sale. Nearly every store was featuring hand-made things. Woodcarving is the chief occupation of the people of Oberammergau, and the subjects are mostly religious. The shops stayed open till 10:00 P.M. and the streets were jammed by the thousands of people from out of town.
On Sunday morning we didn’t go to church although the bells started ringing at 5:00 A.M. The streets and churches were crowded even though it was raining. In the afternoon we took a ride with Fred and Ina Miller to see Linderhof, one of three castles built by Ludwig II, a former King of Bavaria. Linderhof was about ten miles from Oberammergau. For two hours we admired the splendor with which this castle was furnished. We were told this was the smallest of the three castles built during King Ludwig’s reign. These needless expenditures brought the State of Bavaria to near bankruptcy and finally drove King Ludwig mad and he took his own life.
From Linderhof we drove to Garmisch which is famous for winter sports. Garmisch lies at the foot of the Bavarian Alps. Because it was a cold, rainy day we were unable to see the Zugspitze but we did see a number of other peaks covered with snow. Back in Oberammergau that evening we walked the streets again but were in bed by 10:00 P.M. for we did not want to be tired during the Passion Play on Monday.
The Passion Play theater was a 15-minute walk from where we were staying and we were in our seats before 8:30 A.M. when the play was scheduled to begin. The theater holds 5600 and I’m sure every seat was taken. There was a roof to cover the audience but the stage was without a roof. However, no plays were ever postponed because of the weather. Although our seats were well to the rear, we were in the center and could hear everything that was said on the stage. We also had a good view.
Promptly at 8:30 A.M. the play began, and it ended just before 6:00 P.M. in the evening, after having a two-hour lunch intermission from 12:00 to 2:00 P.M. The play was, of course, in German, a succession of tableaus, men’s choral numbers, and street scenes with dialogue. We had bought texts of the Play before hand, an English one for Hetty and a German one for me. With them we were able to follow the course of the play very well. Fortunately, we had a beautiful day with sunshine, although a bit on the cool side. We wore warm clothes and had a blanket, so we didn’t suffer. We also rented soft rubber cushions to sit on and opera glasses so we could see in detail what was taking place on the stage.
I hardly know how to describe our reaction to the Passion Play. It would seem 7 1/2 hours of sitting through a play would be tiresome, but neither Hetty nor I found the play boring in any way. The acting was superb and the scenes followed each other without loss of time. There was no chance to lose interest. The action was so real that we were moved to tears a number of times and I noted others around us were affected the same way. It would be hard to pick out any one scene and say it was the best, because tableaus, dialogue and music made every thing fit together perfectly.
The first tableau showed Adam and Eve being driven out of the Garden of Eden. Then Christ and the Apostles came to the temple in Jerusalem and the moneychangers were driven out. From then on every scene from the Bible account to the Crucifixion was portrayed. The last two scenes were tableaus showing the resurrection and the ascension. The action during the Crucifixion was so real that, according to friends of ours who had seats on the second row, when Christ was taken from the cross, it looked like they pulled real nails from his hands. The blows with which the two thieves legs were broken could be plainly heard from where we sat.
It would take too long to tell you about all the scenes but, I can assure you, they were all impressive. The remorse of Judas was most effectively brought out near the end. Hetty and I thought the Passion Play was wonderful. If we had a chance, we’d attend it again tomorrow. We wish you could have seen it with us.
We do not know what sort of people these actors are in everyday life, but they made an impression on us we will not forget. They will continue putting on the plays two to four times a week until the middle of September. If they succeed in impressing even half of the thousand who see the Play as much as they did us, we would say they kept the vow their forefathers made in 1634.
After the play was over last night we walked around once more among the shops to admire the woodcarvings and other hand-made articles. Most of the items were too expensive for us to buy but we did buy a small wooden inlaid picture. We hope before we return home to be able to get something else. The prices now are especially high as these people must make a good profit during the years they give the Passion Play, as there may be lean years between.”
I remember another highlight from my first year in Germany and that was my first trip to Berlin to visit the U.S. schools. The high school and elementary school were both housed in one building. A worsening of relations between the Soviets and the Allies had resulted in the closing of the Autobahn from Helmstedt, in the British Zone, to Berlin in 1948. This action by the Soviets closed off the supply line from West Germany to Berlin. The Western Allies countered with the Berlin Air-Lift during the winter of 1948 to nullify the effect of the Soviet blockade. The autobahn route to Berlin was again opened for restricted traffic. By the time I joined DSD, official travel to Berlin was by air or rail. I traveled to Berlin by train and one copy of my written orders was in Russian to permit me to travel through the Russian Zone.
In Berlin I stayed at the VIP Harnick House. During my visits to the schools, I told the German secretary of my former contacts with Dr. Bruno Radtke, a Berlin teacher, while he was visiting German Professor at the University of Kansas in 1930-31. I told the secretary of my desire to contact him, if he was still in Berlin. She made several phone calls and confirmed that he was now teaching in a German Gymnasium in the British sector of Berlin and lived only a short distance from the American school. I borrowed a U.S. Army car and drove to Dr. Radtke’s address. I rang the bell at the street several times before a curtain was pushed aside at a window and someone looked out. I rang again and the door was opened enough for a woman to look out. When I explained I was an American and a friend of Dr. Radtke when we was in America in 1930, she seemed satisfied and said Dr. Radtke was not at home now but she expected him soon. She then unlocked the gate so I could come in and wait.
Shortly afterwards I heard Dr. Radtke come in and speak briefly with the housekeeper (Dr. Radtke had never married). In a moment he came into the room where I was and instantly recognized me but couldn’t remember my name. It had been nearly 20 years since I last saw him. He came towards me with outstretched hand repeating the names of some of the German authors we had studied when I was in his class at K.U. I told him my name and then he remembered me well. He asked the housekeeper to bring tea and cookies for us. He and I conversed in English, which he spoke fluently, but his German was still the crisp enunciation I had admired so much at K.U. I remembered he was only four years older than I.
To make a long story short, we visited for almost an hour, bringing each other up to date on the past and present. He explained that he had not been a member of the Nazi Party but had served in the German Army as a traffic controller. He said the most happy day in his life had been the day he surrendered to an American tank company at the end of the war. He related this in detail, which I found most interesting. He was interested, of course, in knowing what I was doing in Germany. He said that he had some difficulty with military government about his house, which he had purchased from a Jew, who claimed he hadn’t paid enough for it. We didn’t touch the tea and cookies while we chatted. I finally had to leave. He was most appreciative of my thoughtfulness to come to see him.
It was also on this trip to Berlin that I was taken on a sightseeing tour of Berlin. This included going through the Brandenburg Gate into the Russian sector and past the ruins of the German Chancellery where Adolf Hitler and some of his staff had taken their lives as the Russian Army closed in on Berlin at the end of the war. The damage that had been done to Berlin by bombs, artillery and house-to-house fighting, was the worst I have ever seen.
During the summer of 1950 I got acquainted with Otto Kaufman from Kansas who was employed by the State Department project concerned with rebuilding Germany and preparing the people for self-government. I had heard of Otto in Kansas and had met him once in summer school at K.U. He was also of German ancestry and spoke a German dialect. Otto urged me to apply for a position in his organization. He said they were badly in need of persons with my background in German language. Otto and I compared notes and I discovered such a transfer could lead to a nice promotion while giving me an opportunity of working directly with German educators in rebuilding their schools along lines compatible with the goals of the U.S. military government in Germany. Otto seemed to feel that I was a natural for their program, which would continue until the occupation ended. He said he had been there for two years and was returning to the States in another six months. I promised him I would inquire into the possibility of transferring and let him know what I learned. The State Department project was under the supervision of the High Commissioner for Germany (HICOG) located at Bonn with subordinate offices in cities where consulates would be located. Otto was working from the Stuttgart office.
I discussed the matter with Hetty, who was all for giving it a try. Later in the summer we spent a day together with the Kaufman’s, and Hetty became as interested as I. I then had an informal meeting with Otto’s supervisor who assured me I was qualified and they would need me definitely by the time Otto returned to the States.
Knowing I must go through the proper channels if I wanted to transfer, I went first to Virgil Walker. He at first didn’t like the idea of my leaving DSD and said I had become an important asset to the staff in the year I had been there. His objections softened some when I asked for a promotion and explained the position with HICOG would be the equivalent of a GS-12 rating in Civil Service. I was at the time a GS-10. Besides being my supervisor, Virgil was also a friend. He admitted they couldn’t match the GS-12, although he would like to, so the best he could do was to recommend me for a promotional transfer. He gave me a letter to that effect to take to Colonel Albert who endorsed Virgil’s letter (I believe he wanted to have me leave).
After recording my intentions at the Civilian Personnel Office in Heidelberg (they kept Virgil’s letter with Colonel Albert’s endorsement), I asked for a formal interview at the HICOG office in Stuttgart.
At the interview I was informed I would have to have an FBI clearance to handle classified materials. I didn’t think that would take too long because I had been through the process in the Air Corps to qualify me for cryptography. However, it did take seven months and I had almost given up getting employment with HICOG by the time it came through. In the meantime I was kept very busy with my DSD responsibilities. I remember that Colonel Albert asked me occasionally if I had heard of anything from my application. I had suspected the Colonel was anti-German, but he did not criticize any of the German-American exchange projects I had started in the DSD schools.
In May 1983, my sister Maude gave me a packet of letters she had received from Hetty and me between 1950 and 1960. I will rely on those letters, and my memory, for material regarding ourselves during that ten-year time. A letter written to the family on 30 August 1950 follows:
7755 Dependent Schools Dept. APO 403, c/o P.M. New York, NY
After ten very strenuous days spent orienting newly recruited teachers and school administrators from the States, I’ll take a few days’ rest. The orientation sessions took place at Bad Homburg, a short distance NW of Frankfurt. I finished my part of the conference program at 3:00 p.m. and left for Karlsruhe with Colonel Albert. It was a drive of about 100 miles on the autobahn.
Hetty went to Strasburg, France, today with a group of ladies. She got back at 7:30 p.m. and is now getting supper. She’ll have to tell you about the trip because we haven’t had time to talk about it yet.
Margot and Hubert were here when I got home, of course, so Hubert and I had to have a session. I hadn’t seen him since last Saturday morning and he cried a little when he first saw me tonight. Didn’t take long to get over it though. About 6:30 Margot fed him and put him to bed. She would have gotten supper for me but I told her I’d wait until Hetty got back. Margot is sleeping upstairs here now as her husband went to the hospital in Stuttgart Monday and may not be back for two weeks. Margot has been here for a month now and Hetty hasn’t complained so I guess she’s doing better than the other maids. She isn’t as handy with Hubert as Inga was but she is sincere and likes him. Hubert has had a bit of a cold lately and for several nights didn’t sleep well. Now he seems as lively as ever.
Tonight I feel like I’d been pulled through a pretty small hole. A week ago Monday and Tuesday, we had our first conferences with new teachers just arrived from the States. There were 87 in that group and, of course, there were a lot of things we had to tell them in two days. I was on the program myself three times on different, but related subjects. The subjects of my talks are: “German Employees in our Schools”, “German Language and Cultural Programs”, and “German-American Relations”. I could have talked for hours on each subject, but usually had about 20 minutes at a time.
After that conference I was back in the office for three days catching up on work that had piled up. On Saturday morning I had to return to Bad Homburg for more conferences. Hetty had gone along to the first conferences but there was no room for her the second time. On Saturday and Sunday we repeated the orientation conferences for 72 more new teachers and administrators. On Sunday we didn’t start until 10:00 so that everyone could attend church. I attended a German Protestant Church. The service was in German, of course, but I had no trouble following the sermon.
Beginning on Monday the principals and superintendents of all schools met for three days of conferences and I was on the program so often, I lost track. Then, to top it all off, we had another group of 25 new teachers arrive yesterday and I had to go through the whole program again.
Needless to say, I’m tired and hope I can take it easy for a while. School starts September 7 and I can’t expect much let-up until then. I do feel pretty good about the part I played in the orientation conferences. Quite a number of the new teachers came to me afterwards and expressed their appreciation of the work I was doing and the way I was doing it. There was an article in the Frankfurt paper “Neue Presse” about the conference and my name was the only American mentioned.”
P.S. (September 1. 1950) “I feel more rested now than when I wrote the first part of this. I’m planning to take a week’s vacation the middle of September. Hetty and I have thought of going to Switzerland for four days, if we can pry ourselves away from Hubert that long. He has a little cold now and Hetty is worried about the croup. Of course, we could just stay here and I could do some fishing. Trout fishing here is really good and I’ve gotten my share.”
We decided to leave Hubert with Margot and take the four-day trip to Switzerland in mid-September. To make it more interesting we took three other Americans with us and I drove. They were the wife of a 1st Lt. (West Point) who lived in the apartment across the hall from us, and her parents from North Carolina who were visiting in Germany. They were nice people to have along and we had a good time. I have a letter written when we returned home to help me recall events of the trip.
The first day from Karlsruhe to Interlaken. Switzerland, by way of Freiburg, Basel, and Berne. The scenery we saw on the way caused us to ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ every time we came to a turn in the road. Unfortunately, Kansas has nothing like it. In one small village we were slowed down when we came upon large flocks of sheep which were being brought down from summer mountain pastures to winter valley pasture. The villagers all turned out to see the annual parade, which we joined and enjoyed until they turned off on a side road. In Berne, the capital of Switzerland, we parked and did some sight seeing. One street was particularly interesting. In addition to some clocks that did funny things on the hour, there were statues that dated back to the Holy Roman Empire, and the sidewalks were all built in under the side of the building so one could shop in the rain without getting wet.
Just before we reached Interlaken, we had a flat tire and while that was being fixed the mechanic discovered a leak in the gas tank. Fortunately, the garage was near the hotel where we had our reservations. After I returned to our hotel from the garage, Hetty wasn’t in our room so I knocked on the door of the next room, thinking that was our friend’s room. Some man asked in French who it was and I said in English, “I’m looking for my wife.” There was a short pause and then a puzzled voice said in English, “You are looking for your wife!” By that time I decided I had the wrong room and left. That poor man is probably wondering still what was going on. We all got a good laugh out of it
The following forenoon I was at the garage until the gas tank had been repaired. Hetty went shopping while our friends took a tour. After lunch we drove to Lucerne – a beautiful drive through mountains overlooking lakes and alternating with green valleys. One difference from Germany we found was that in Germany one rarely sees single houses standing alone in the countryside as the people live in cities and villages. In Switzerland one sees many single houses in valleys and high up on mountains as well.
We spent two nights and a full day in and around Lucerne. It is a very popular tourist spa, similar to Interlaken, but much larger. The hotels and food were excellent We all took a guided tour of the city and in the afternoon, Hetty did some more sight-seeing and window shopping while the rest of us took a tour into the mountains south of Lucerne, which required us to travel partway by cog rail after which we transferred to a cable car. I have always been afraid of high altitudes so I got a real thrill swinging across that mile-wide valley to a higher mountain. When we were halfway across the valley, I got up enough nerve to look down and I think I may have closed my eyes the rest of the way. On the return trip I was braver and managed to enjoy the beautiful scenery, especially if I looked toward the horizon and avoided looking down.
Back at the hotel in Lucerne, we told Hetty what she had missed that afternoon. She couldn’t believe I had taken the cable-car ride across a mile-wide valley between two mountains because I had never taken a ride on a Ferris wheel with her at a carnival in the states.
We had thought the Bavarian Alps in Southern Germany were most beautiful but had to admit the mountain scenery in Switzerland was even more beautiful. Although Switzerland had not been directly involved in World War II the war did have it’s effect The Swiss can produce only about half enough food for the population and, being a land-locked country, had to depend on transportation provided by countries which were directly involved in the war. About 22% of the Swiss are engaged in agriculture which is mostly cattle grazing. Some 45% are employed by industries – watch and jewelry making, and wood carving. The country depends largely on tourist trade, which was almost non-existent during the war. It was now more than five years after the war and the Swiss economy was rapidly returning to normal, as was also its industry. Prices were higher than in Germany.
Our time in Lucerne had been most enjoyable and educational. Hetty had called Margot both nights to see how she and Hubert were getting along. Margot reported all was well and that Ina Miller had dropped by every day. Although we would probably miss some traveling while we were in Europe because of Hubert, we never felt like complaining about that. For our return to Karlsruhe, I will quote from my letter to relatives, written on September 23rd, 1950:
“Thursday morning we left Lucerne about 8:30. Since our lunch was already paid for, we had the hotel pack lunches to take along. In Zurich we stopped to window-shop and to take a drive through the city. It is primarily an industrial city and we didn’t find it as interesting as Berne, Interlaken and Lucerne.
It started raining as we left Zurich so we had to eat our lunches in the car. We crossed the Swiss border into Germany at Schaffhausen where the Rhein River begins. From there we drove a country road along the east side of the Black Forest to Stuttgart. I forgot to say that, although Switzerland is a small country, three languages are spoken there – Italian, French and German. German was the language where we were.
By mid-afternoon I saw in the distance a castle on top of a hill. At first I couldn’t be sure it was a castle but as we got closer, I realized the road we were traveling would pass within a mile or two of the castle. We took time to drive to the castle and followed a winding, walled drive that took us to the top and gave us a beautiful country view. From the German caretaker we learned the Hohenzollernburg was the third castle on this spot. The first one was destroyed in the 15th century by war. The second one went to pieces during the period of the Reformation when unfriendly people lived in it. About 100 years ago Prussian royalty had the castle rebuilt but no one has lived in it in the meantime. It is now a museum and tourist attraction.
It was dark before we got to the autobahn at Stuttgart. We stopped to eat at a U.S. Army snack bar halfway between Stuttgart and Karlsruhe. We were home a little after 9:00 and I, for one, was very glad of it. Driving all day on unfamiliar, winding, narrow roads is quite a strain.
Hubert was asleep, of course, when we got home, and Margot was waiting for us. Hubert and she had gotten along fine while we were gone. Margot had hoped Hubert would have his first tooth when we go back but there was still no sign of it He did demonstrate some improvement in getting around in his playpen. We thought that was pretty good for a 9-month old youngster.
Yesterday I sent off five rolls of colored film and six rolls of black and white film. That will be a total of 176 snaps when we get them back.
My vacation wouldn’t have been complete without going fishing so I took care of that today. I drove south of Karlsruhe about fifteen miles into the Black Forest where I have been several times this summer and fished a small stream. I wore a raincoat most of the time as it was raining but not enough to stop me from fishing. After about three hours my creel was so full of trout, I didn’t have room for more. I had cleaned the fish as I caught them to save room for more fish. When I counted them at home there was 24, of which 7 were 7-8 inches long and the others 9-12. I don’t remember ever catching a nicer string of trout. Even Hetty was quite impressed.
Now my vacation is over and I’ll be back to work next Monday. For several weeks I will be traveling quite a bit. Next week I will be in Heidelberg till Wednesday and in Munich the rest of the week. Hetty would prefer I didn’t have to travel so much but knows that is part of my job.
By the way, don’t be surprised if we change our address one of these times. I have several fair chances for other positions here and all of them would be good promotions. I like my present work but the other positions would give me more opportunities to work directly with German school officials. So few Americans here can speak German as well as I and that is what gives me an advantage.
Unless Hetty has something more to add, you’ll have to call this a letter. It isn’t a good one but it would take too long to do justice to our trip to Switzerland.”
“Hello – Ralph has written all the news so I’ll just sign our names. Hope this finds you folks fine. We are. Hubert is quite the lad and is growing up so fast. Write:
(Hetty, Ralph & Hubert)”
A letter written a month later contained the following:
“Hubert will be ten months old tomorrow and he is almost ready to walk. His toilet habits are improving too. I don’t think he has missed in two weeks or more, but he still doesn’t have a tooth. I’ve been expecting Dorothy to send those old false teeth we’ve been passing around in the family for years. Last year we sent them to Francis.
My work is heavy. The past month I’ve traveled a lot, visiting schools and then when I get back to the office, the paper work is really piled up. Our social life is also ample so we don’t have time to get bored.”
Almost before we knew it, Christmas, 1950, came and went. I remember the Walkers invited us to spend Christmas with them. They lived in a large German home in Durlach, about three miles east of Karlruhe. At the end of the war the house had been confiscated by the Army to provide housing for U.S. Army Military officials. I remember that Christmas probably more vividly than any other in my life because Hubert was a year old, healthy, and seemed to be concerned with everything going on around him. In one year he had become so much a part of our daily lives that Hetty and I had difficulty recalling events during our eleven years alone that had seemed important to us at the time. Life was never the same for us after Hubert’s arrival.
Another reason for remembering that Christmas was that the day seemed to provide the subject for the most beautiful Christmas scene imaginable. The temperature must have been in the 20’s and it was a still, overcast day. Large flakes of snow were falling as we drove to the Walker home. Soon the ground was covered as the flakes fell faster and faster until, by noon, we could barely see the houses across the street This continued the rest of the day and, by evening, everything was covered with snow – shrubs, trees, cars parked in the street, and the roofs of houses.
We had no thought of staying with the Walkers overnight when we left home that morning, but we had brought Hubert’s bassinet and playpen. Driving home that evening was out of the question and the Walkers seemed delighted to have us as overnight guests. The Christmas dinner had been roast goose with all the trimmings, prepared by Bonnie and the German maid. The Walkers had three children at home – a five year old, a teen-age daughter and a teen-age son. The children played their own games and entertained Hubert when he wasn’t sleeping or pestering his mother. We four adults played bridge, a game we all liked. To avoid arguments, we split up with the ladies playing against the men. Hetty and Bonnie played very well together, but Virgil didn’t follow any system in his bidding and usually insisted on playing the hand even though mine was a better hand. It didn’t seem to bother him that we frequently went set. Except for his bidding he was an excellent bridge player. Since he was my boss, I tolerated his erratic bidding and we had an enjoyable afternoon and evening, punctuated by frequent trips to the window to see if snow was still falling. Hubert was asleep in his bassinet at the usual time while the rest of us retired near midnight with large snowflakes still falling.
By noon the following day the sun was out and I don’t recall ever seeing a more beautiful sight. By mid-afternoon the U.S. Army graders had cleared the streets of more than a foot of snow and we were able to drive home. To make sure we would not get stuck along the way, Virgil followed in his car.
It was a week before the snow was gone and the Germans, young and old, took advantage of the ideal conditions for winter sports. With few cars on the streets, young folks on sleds of all sorts and adults on skis utilized all suitable available space from daylight till dark as long as the snow remained. The ice-covered city park lake near our apartment was filled to near capacity during the same time with skaters of all ages. It was hard to believe that six years before, World War II was still being fought in this area.
Before leaving 1950, I will mention briefly several impressions that belong to my first year and a half in Germany. The first of these was the strained relations that existed between the Americans and the Soviets. I knew something of this, of course, before we arrived in Germany, from hearsay, reading and listening to radio reports. On one of several trips to Berlin after arriving in Germany, I accompanied several other individuals in a U.S. Army staff vehicle to Potsdam in the Russian Zone, where the top officials of the U.S., Great Britain, and Russia, had met in July, 1945, to plan the strategy of the war with Japan – when, where and how the atomic bomb would be dropped; if, when, and under what conditions should Russia enter the war against Japan; conditions of surrender by Japan; and after the surrender of the Japanese, how would they and the Emperor be treated?
During our drive to Potsdam, I noticed that pedestrians would often stop and watch us drive past I couldn’t help but see the unfriendly expressions on their faces as they recognized our official vehicle as American. Once, when we had to stop for traffic, several men stepped toward us and spit at the vehicle. The same atmosphere was evident at the site of the conference in Potsdam where we were shown the rooms occupied by President Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin, and also the room where conferences were held. A large woman in uniform, identified by our guide as a Russian guard, followed us wherever we went, staying near enough to hear everything our guide said. He had told us in advance that he would say some things unfavorable to the U.S. while showing us around Potsdam, as this was required by the Soviet government. I remember he showed us damage to the furniture in the room occupied by President Truman and the American delegation and made it very clear that the Americans had caused the damage and had not offered to pay for it. As for the Russian guard, she listened intently to all our guide said without changing the stony expression on her face. I felt more comfortable when we returned to West Berlin.
There was also an American school in Nürnberg where the military Tribunal, created by the U.S., Russians, British, and French, tried 22 high German officials as war criminals between November 1945, and October 1946. The crimes for which they were tried were, primarily, the operation of concentration camps, in which millions of Jews and other victims of the Nazis were tortured and exterminated. At the end of the trials, 19 German officials were found guilty, and sentenced to die.
Afterwards some people questioned the legality of the Nürnberg Trials. Winston Churchill was quoted as saying they created the dangerous precedent that “the leaders of a nation defeated in war shall be put to death by the victors.” On my first visit to Nürnberg I was taken on a guided tour of the buildings where the prisoners were housed during the trials, and the large rooms where the hearings were held.
In the summer of 1950, the Korean War began. This at first involved North Korea and the Republic of Korea (generally referred to as South Korea), and was regarded as a civil war. With support from the Soviets, North Korea forces soon were over-running South Korea. As a part of the United Nation’s forces the U.S. became involved in the defense of South Korea and the possibility of a (third) world war was feared. American troops in Germany were alerted and plans were made to evacuate the dependents of U.S. personnel to the States if the war should spread. Because of my previous military experience I was issued a civilian uniform and given instructions to follow in case an evacuation order was issued. Had the plan been carried out, Hetty and Hubert would have been taken to the French coast to board a ship to the States while I would have remained on duty until relieved. Fortunately the Korean War ran it’s course without spreading to Europe. Gradually the excitement died down and life for us returned to normal.
Soon after our second Christmas in Germany, our letter to Maude, dated Jan. 3,1951, contained the following among other items: “Hubert was well remembered for both his birthday and Christmas. He got a lot of toys although we didn’t give him many ourselves, and he also got a lot of clothes. Among others, he got two pair of Levi’s and one pair of bib-overalls and a shirt that says “I’m an old cow hand”. He also got a nice white and green trimmed Bavarian suit that one of his German girl friends knitted for him. Now I don’t know whether to make a cowboy out of him or a Bavarian mountaineer. He looks quite manly in the overalls.”
We heard from the folks that they had a nice Golden Wedding Anniversary with so many there and all of them bringing gifts which were not at all expected. They said they would be with you for Christmas and we’re waiting to hear all about that.”
Some three weeks later Hetty’s letter to Maude included these bits of information:
“By now you should have some pictures taken around Christmas. Yep. I’m afraid I’ve put on a few pounds. Think I’ll go on a diet. I’ve gotten down to a decent size since I had Hubert. Ralph isn’t as heavy as he was.
Ralph got a two-grade promotion a couple of weeks ago. He is now a GS-11. We were quite proud of him as a jump promotion isn’t usually given on a civil service job. It must have been for the extra responsibilities he has taken on. Incidentally, there was a nice raise in salary to go along with the promotions which made it even better.”
My letter of Feb. 6th 1951 to Maude revealed that:
“Hubert had his first typhoid shot and put in a bad night. One of us was up with him nearly the whole night. He had a fever and his arm was sore besides some teeth trying to push through. He’s back to normal again now and you should see him walk. Did Clifford walk like a drunk man at first? Fragile things in our house are going higher and higher, and I don’t mean in price. When Hubert learns to climb, we’ll have to think of something else.
I’m getting caught up on my office work now and will soon be visiting schools again. My schedule calls for visits to 18 schools before summer vacation. To do that I will cover most of Germany, going as far as Munich, Nürnberg, Berlin and Bremerhaven. I’m really hoping to transfer soon to another position and then I won’t spend so much time traveling. By this I don’t mean to give the impression that traveling isn’t interesting. I can always strike up conversations with the Germans I meet and I’ve surprised them as well as myself by how well I can speak German.
The world news over here isn’t good either but I don’t believe it is as bad as a month or so ago. The American attitude toward the Germans is improving and it had a lot of room for improvement in my opinion. We still have some cranks here who should have stayed in the States.”
Soon after we arrived in Germany, Americans started constructing apartment buildings to house families of military and civilian personnel assigned to each installation. The basic floor plan used a 3-story building with four apartments on each floor. Two entrances and a stairwell provided access to six apartments at each end of the building. The basement (3/4 below ground level) provided space for a central heating unit, laundry and storage for each apartment. The space under the gable roof was used to provide live-in quarters for maids. Each one had a roof-window for light and ventilation.
As these buildings were completed, American families moved into them and thus released housing, confiscated at the end of the war, for German use. In Karlruhe a long row of these apartment buildings were built on Erzberger Strasse at the north edge of the castle forest not far from the Fiat Building where DSD offices were located. In time, an elementary school, chapel, and building to house the Officers’ Club, P.X., Commissary and Class Six Store were also located near the housing area.
I do not recall the exact date when we moved from our small German apartment near the City Park to the new, two-bedroom apartment on Erzberger Strasse, but it must have been in the fall of 1950. For the next three years, Erzberger Strasse was our home. It was here that Hubert learned to walk and as he grew older, he and I often took walks through the beautiful pine forest that lay between our Little America and the castle, which had formerly been the residence of the Dukes of the State of Baden. The Millers, Fred and Ina, had the apartment across the hall from us.
Housing areas, similar to the one on Etzberger Strasse in Karkuhe, were also constructed at all the other U.S. Army Posts in the American Zone. I can only assume similar family housing also appeared in the British and French Zones because funds for the construction were provided by the U.S. under the provisions of the Marshall Plan, which provided financial aid to 16 western European countries to be used to rebuild war damage. The program would also have included Russia but Russia refused to accept the financial assistance.
Sometime during the spring of 1951, Virgil Walker was suddenly discharged from his position as Civilian Director of DSD. The reason for his termination was rather vague but did involve a conflict between Virgil and Colonel Albert. There were rumors of black market activities involving Mrs. Walker. Another rumor involved Virgil in irregularities. I was the first person he informed that he had been fired and he asked that I not join others in the office who might try to appeal his dismissal. His words to me were something like, “Stutz”, (he was the only person in DSD who called me by that name) “Don’t get involved with the Colonel. It will only hurt you. You have a fine reputation and will soon get the position with HICOG (State Department) that you want so much. Don’t get involved in defending me.” He asked me to promise I would be neutral. Virgil and his family left soon afterwards for the States and we have never seen him since.
DSD seemed not at all the same with Virgil Walker not in charge. He was only a few years older than I and we had become close friends in the short time we had been associated in DSD. Virgil never appeared in the office after the day he told me had been fired. While the Walkers were packing to leave for the States, and my spirits were at a rather low ebb, I received a telephone call in my office. It was not a familiar voice I heard coming from Stuttgart on the phone but it sounded business-like and official. The call I had been waiting for seven months to receive. I don’t recall all the details of the conversation, but when it was finished, I had a list of instructions to follow that would keep me very busy for the next week.
So it was that in May of 1951 the status of my federal employment in Germany was changed rather drastically in a few days. Instead of being a Department of the Army Civilian (DAC) employed by the U.S. Army Dependent School Detachment as German Specialist with a GS-11 rating, I was now employed by the US. State Department as Cultural Officer with an FSS-5 rating and assigned to the U.S. Consulate at Stuttgart, capital of the German State of Baden-Württemberg. The activities of the Consular offices in Germany were directed from the Office of the High Commissioner for Germany (HICOG) at Bonn, the capital of West Germany.
A letter we wrote to Maude and Jess on June 2, 1951, fits in very well here and is a bit more reliable than my memory:
“Today is our 13th Wedding Anniversary. For the occasion we have flowers scattered all over the place. For dinner, Hetty and I went to the Villa Hoepfner, a favorite German restaurant for Americans and then window-shopped a while.
I’ve been an employee of HICOG for one week now. I will be stationed in Karlruhe so we won’t be moving for a while, at least. I expect to have an office here next week sometime. So far I have been spending my time in Frankfurt and Stuttgart, meeting HICOG people and getting oriented to my new responsibilities. Hetty went along to Frankfurt. Wednesday was a holiday and we drove 50 miles northeast of here in the Odenwald (forest) east of Heidelberg and ate our lunch beside a small stream that runs into the Neckar River. I just happened to have my fishing equipment in the trunk, so I caught nine nice trout to take home. Thursday and Friday I was in Stuttgart for more orientation, to get better acquainted with the programs being carried on in German schools and with German officials with whom I’ll be working.
It is certainly pleasant to be working entirely with civilians again. On Friday evening we attended a banquet for 200 German teachers who had been in the States a year under the HICOG Exchanges program. Besides the German teachers we also met a number of HICOG staff personnel and were both impressed by the nice treatment we got at the coffee party in Payne Templeton’s home after the banquet. Payne is my boss and we have both been impressed by him especially, and his wife. It was 1:00 am. when we got home from Stuttgart. The maid had taken good care of Hubert, but that isn’t really a hard job. He’s always asleep by 8:00 p.m. and doesn’t bother again until 7:00 am. unless something, such as teeth, bothers.”
Hetty finished this letter a few days later. After making a comment about my starting letters and leaving them for her to finish, Hetty added the following:
“Yesterday we went to church (a small German Church the Americans used for Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish services). Afterwards we and the Millers had dinner with the Zieglers, a German family. Herr Ziegler is the Headmaster at a Volkschule (elementary school) on the north edge of Karlsruhe. It was our first time having dinner in a German home and an enjoyable experience. A young daughter took over Hubert while we adults visited and then had a tour of Herr Ziegler’s school. There were a number of rooms but otherwise it reminded Ralph of the one-room country schools he attended. On the way home we stopped to say good-bye to the Walkers who will leave for the States in a few days.
Ralph left for Stuttgart early this morning. He drove as he is to be back here for a 6:30 p.m. dinner tomorrow evening and train connections were not suitable. Today is the maid’s day off so Hubert and I have been alone all day. It seems nice just to do as I please and not have anyone else around. Ralph called a while ago. He very seldom misses calling me the nights he is out of town. It helps my spirits ’cause I sure hate to be alone at nights.
Hubert is sure changing. He climbs on furniture now and tries so many things. We were both pleased when we could make out ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mommy’ from his jabbering. I just hope he will be halfway good when we come home on leave. He really has been a good child – oh yes, he has a mind of his own and lets you know when things don’t suit him. I’m not promising one thing of him because I might have to eat my words. Anyway, we love him and I’m sure you will too. Since Ralph changed jobs we’ll get to come home by commercial liner rather then Army transport. Thank goodness! We could fly but I’m pretty sure well come by boat.”
We soon learned that when you are working for the State Dept Foreign Service, you take your home leave when it is convenient to the government, and not when the relatives would like for you to come. So, instead of going home for Christmas, 1951, we had our first home leave in almost three years in May and June of 1952. In the meantime I had become fully engrossed in my new duties as Cultural Officer. As I look back now (age 77), I cannot remember any employment that challenged me more, or that I enjoyed more completely, than the two years and nine months I served with the State Department in Germany under the occupation, which ended in 1954. When I accepted the position in 1951, I was told my employment would probably end when the occupation was over and Germany was again a sovereign nation. I was also informed that I had undergone an FBI investigation to clear me for secret documents and to accept responsibility for government funds.
BACK TO GERMANY: CAN’T FIT TEACHING INTO ARMY SYSTEM
The following quoted clipping is taken from the Hutchinson (KS) News – Herald, dated Sunday, June 5, 1952. A picture of me, reading a newspaper, appeared with the article, and had the following by-line:
“Long Distance – Ralph Stutzman sits on Kansas porch, reads what’s doing near his home at Karlsruhe, Germany.”
“It’s a long way to Germany and a Kansas boy doesn’t get home very often, but the former principal of the Langdon High School still doesn’t regret the fact he went – -or that he’s going back again this month.
The former Kansas schoolteacher, Ralph Stutzman, is winding up a visit with relatives here during his 60-day leave from a State Department job in Europe. His wife, Hetty Bardwell, when she was born in Hutchinson, and their son, Ralph Hubert, 2½-year-old native of Heidelberg, Germany, are with him.
Stutzman leaves Monday for a week in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Stutzman and their son will leave here June 17. They sail from New York the 20th on the S.S. America. Stutzman, member of a family of Kansas Germans, spoke the German tongue before he learned English. He has a master’s degree in German from Kansas University and a background in schoolwork. He was a KU professor, Principal at Langdon from 1938-42, and at Attica, his hometown, from 1942 until the Army got him in 1943. He spent a year overseas, but not in Germany – in the China-Burma-India theater. He returned at the end of 1945 to take a teaching job in Little River, which led a couple of years later to the post of Superintendent of Schools. In 1949 he signed into the Army dependent school system and took his wife to Germany.
People don’t realize’, says Stutzman, ‘the big school job we have over there. There are some 11,500 American children going to school in Germany, in everything from one-teacher schools to places with 1,000 or more students.’
Stutzman was assigned to Karlsruhe, where the school system’s headquarters is located. With his background in German, he had charge of German-American relations, German personnel helping in the schools, and the German language teaching.
The work was fascinating, but there was friction. Stutzman says he still can’t understand how the Army can expect to fit the American type of school system, which Stutzman calls the most democratic organization in the world, into the hard and fast rules system of the Army.
The Army Headquarters in Heidelberg, for example, appointed a general, two colonels, and Stutzman to work out a program for using the schools as an implement for furthering German-American relations. But when American teachers at an American school dismissed classes one afternoon so they could return a visit paid their school by German teachers, they were reprimanded and punished by the Army post commander.
For a while the Kansas boy thought of returning home, because the schoolteacher in him suffered at such incidents.
The State Department provided an alternate escape, though, when Stutzman spotted an opening in it’s information service. He grabbed it, and now is the sole American in charge of the department’s information center and library at Karlsruhe, serving an area which includes some 500,000 Germans.
He has a staff of 12 Germans and three State Department cars to spread information about the U.S., it’s history and world aims. Since 90% of his office work is done in German language, the Germans have come to think of Stutzman, he says, almost as one of them and he hears their complaints about other Americans.
It’s true, the former principal admits, that many American tourists ‘show off’ in Germany, the GI’s sometimes get too rowdy, and Americans appear to have little culture, which gives rise to a common German attitude: `Yes, you Americans have lots of money and you helped us tremendously – but haven’t you anything else besides dollars and cents?’
Best cure for that reaction is the exchange program. Stutzman and others like him try to get as many Germans into America as they can to visit this country. They learn, he says, that the tourists they see in Germany aren’t typical of the Americans they meet in America.
While visiting here the Stutzmans have stayed with Mrs. Stutzman’s sister, Mrs. Mabel Mittendorf at 115 East 10th.”
During the first two years I was employed by HICOG and the State Department, we continued to live in Karlsruhe, in the same apartment on Erzberger Strasse we had occupied before, across the hall from the Fred Millers. This enabled us to continue our close association with our DSD Headquarters’ friends.
This was especially good for Hubert who could have been upset by a move to Stuttgart. However, my new employment added other faces, both German and American, to our growing number of fiends.
My HICOG office was located in what had formerly been the U.S. Military Government Building in the heart of Karlsuhe, across the street from the German Supreme Court Building. The Fiat Building, in which the DSD Headquarters was housed, was only a few blocks away.
My function as Cultural Officer in Karlsruhe was to assist German educators in rebuilding school programs – elementary, secondary and higher education – along more democratic lines than had existed in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. To achieve this I was provided with a rather large library, similar to that of a teachers’ college in America, and including audio-visual aids to use in teaching. Also my educational center included conference rooms where American education specialists, working with German educators, prepared and edited for publication, school books for all school levels.
Mine was a busy and on-going operation started some years before. I was merely the new Director of the Padagogische Arbeitsstelle (pedagogical workshop). I was well received by both American and German educators, primarily because of my ability to converse in German. Few of the American specialists, sent to Germany for this purpose from Education Departments in Stateside Teachers’ Colleges, could speak any German. Much of my time at the workshops was spent translating from German to English, and visa versa. To provide variety occasionally, I reverted to Pennsylvania Dutch, which never failed to bring looks of surprise and smiles from the serious-minded German teachers. After we got better acquainted, some of them would ask where I had learned to speak a German dialect. They were really surprised to learn my German
ancestors had gone to Pennsylvania in 1727.
From the beginning of my employment with HICOG the Center was provided with three vehicles – a 4-door Mercedes and uniformed driver for my personal use, an Opel sedan for my German employees, and a Volkswagen panel to transport audio-visual equipment and other supplies.
Time passed rapidly and enjoyably as new experiences in the continental environment added knowledge, personal contacts and self-confidence, which I felt were at least equal to the benefits I could have gained from an advanced graduate university degree.
It gradually became obvious that changes were taking place in the activities of HICOG that pointed to the approaching end of the military occupation of West Germany. The first direct sign of this was when the Padagogische Arbeitstelle was turned over to German administrative control in early 1952. As a part of this change, I was transferred to the Amerika Haus, located a short distance away, as Director, when the previous Director returned to the States.
The function of the Amerika Haus was similar to that of the Padagogische Arbeitsstelle except that the library was designed to appeal more to the general German public than to educators in universities, secondary schools, and the Volkschule. This library contained a variety of American books, periodicals, and audio-visual materials intended to give German people of all ages a good account of the life and people of America.
The Amerilka Haus occupied three floors of the Monger Brewery Building. The library took up the ground floor while the second floor consisted of an auditorium and smaller rooms used for discussion groups and reading. My office and the rooms for most of the German employees were on the top floor where I had an excellent view of Karlruhe with its war damage and the countryside toward the Black Forest on the south.
Of the fifteen German employees only my secretary could converse in good English. Most of our contacts were with Germans and it wasn’t long before I was dictating letters in German. Of course, the secretary made corrections where needed. Four of the five men employees had served in the German Army during the war. None of them admitted to serving against American forces. One of them, a really fine gentlemen, had lost an arm while with Rommel’s Army in Africa. When I told then I had been in Burma, China, and India the last year of the war, their attitude towards me became quite friendly and we exchanged war experiences freely. However, they all seemed to have strong feelings against the Russians. A number of the Germans I knew still had relatives who were prisoners of war in Russia.
The auditorium on the second floor was used almost daily to show films of America to German audiences, and once a week we presented a live program featuring American musicians and artists, who were making the rounds of all Amerika Hauser in the major cities of Germany. The auditorium was small, seating some 250 persons, but the programs were well attended.
It was my responsibility to schedule the live programs and I usually attended them. Whenever I did, the German employee in charge of the evening’s program would introduce me as Director of the Amerika Haus. Usually my secretary prepared an appropriate short speech for me to give in German. In this way I came to know a number of local Germans who attended the programs. Occasionally, the Karlsruhe newspaper carried short articles about the programs that included my name.
I remember that one such write-up caused an elderly man from nearby Mannheim to come to my office with his housekeeper one day. The housekeeper explained that her companion’s name was “Stutzmann” and he had seen my name in the paper and wanted to meet me. She added that he was hard of hearing and I would have to speak to him through the hearing aide he carried. I had never seen such a hearing aide. It was a flexible tube about ten feet long, one end of which he held in his ear while I spoke into the other end.
“Herr Stutzmann” asked what I knew of the origin of my father’s family in America. I told him what my Grandfather had told me when I was 15 years old, all of which I recorded on page 1 and 2 of this autobiography. As I talked to my guest through his hearing tube, I could see his interest increase.
When I finished talking, he was quite excited as I remember, he exclaimed ” Das stimmt, das stimmt!” (Literally ‘that agrees, that agrees!’) He then said he had been a government employee (ein Beamter), and that during the Hitler period his family history had been traced to confirm that he was not a Jew. His family records did show that in 1727 a Stutzman family had left Germany to immigrate to America. I am not sure but it seems he said that Stutzman’s name was Johann Jacob.
Unfortunately, I became so engrossed in my work that I did not follow-up on this lead to Stutzman family history in Germany. I did, however, know that the name “Stutzman” appeared occasionally in the German state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany, which included the Black Forest and the major cities of Mannheim, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe and Stuttgart. I do recall hearing German adults and children conversing on the streets in Karlsruhe in a dialect that sounded almost like the Pennsylvania Dutch spoken in our home when I was growing up.
I remember my term as Director of the Amerika Haus coincided with the time when Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin was engaged in his well publicized ‘Witch Hunt’ to expose Americans with Communist leanings employed by the U.S. Government, especially in the State Department. Prime objects in his ‘hunt’ were the U.S. information centers in foreign countries. The libraries of Amerika Haus were scrutinized for books written by authors suspected of being pro-communist. The Senator had two young lawyers (Roy M. Cohn and David Shine) as assistants, who made the rounds of Amerika Hauser in Germany gathering information to be used in charges against James Conant, who was at that time the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany in Bonn, and later became the first Ambassador to West Germany. Fortunately, Senator McCarthy was condemned publicly by his Senate colleagues during the Army-McCarthy hearings in the spring of 1954 and the Senator’s death followed three years later.
A major activity of the State Department’s program for the reeducation of the youth of Germany was the student exchange program including high school and university students. I found those students who had returned to Germany after a year in the U.S. to be valuable discussion leaders in group meetings at the Amerika Haus. In my own conversations with these students they sometimes brought up the name of Senator McCarthy, stating that it seemed the Senator was more important than the President of America.
One German university student said Americans had frequently asked him how the German people could have accepted a man like Adolph Hitler as their leader. The student found the question embarrassing until he learned more about the methods Senator McCarthy used in exposing suspected pro-Communists. After that he answered the question by comparing the Senator to Hitler and pointing out that the two men were very much alike in the methods they were using and yet some Americans were strong supporters of the Senator. Usually that answer was sufficient to change the conversation.
The above reaction to Senator McCarthy was confirmed during our next leave to the U.S.A., during which I was asked to address a number of groups about my experiences in Germany. A friend to whom I had given a private report of my experiences, suggested I not include the comparison of Senator McCarthy to Hitler in my talks, unless specifically asked to do so. From this I gathered it was a controversial subject and avoided it, except in private conversation.
Of the artists and musicians presented live at the Amerika Haus, Kenneth Spencer, a black American baritone soloist remains in my memory as outstanding. We scheduled him for two concerts, one at the Amerika Haus and one at the Karlsruhe City Theater, a few days later. Because Spencer was black and the U.S. Army was not yet integrated, my wife and I decided to have him as a houseguest, to avoid embarrassment at the Army billeting office.
Spencer stopped at my office the day he arrived in Karlsruhe and seemed delighted to accept my invitation to be our houseguest while in Karlsruhe. I was hardly prepared for this man. No one had told me he was six foot, six inches tall, with an athletic build, and a deep bass speaking voice.
As soon as formalities were finished, Spencer asked if I would like to hear him sing. I answered “Of course,” and he proceeded to serenade me and the office staff with a beautiful rendition of “Old Man River” from the popular musical “Show Boat.” When he finished, our audience included all the Amerika Haus employees within hearing distance as well as a number of persons who heard him from the library, two floors below.
Needless to say, the Amerika Haus and Karlsruhe City Theater auditoriums were both filled to capacity for Spencer’s two concerts. He was a perfect gentleman as a guest in our home, and for several years, we received personal postcards addressed from the cities in Europe where he appeared in concerts. From others we learned Spencer was married to a white wife and for this reason had not been well received by American audiences. The last we heard of Kenneth Spencer was from a clipping in an American newspaper after 1960. He had been killed in a plane accident when returning to the U.S. after concerts in Mexico City and Central America.
Early in 1953, I was transferred with my family from Karlsruhe to Stuttgart, the capital of the German State of Baden-Württemberg, where the U.S. Consulate was located.
Since being employed by HICOG in 1951, I had been traveling the fifty miles to Stuttgart at least once a week to attend the Consul General’s staff meetings and so knew my transfer was being planned.
On August 1, of 1949, I had entered U.S. Government service as a Department of the Army Civilian (DAC) and a Civil Service rating of GS-9. After a year’s service I was promoted to GS-10 with a promise of another promotion a year later. However, I transferred to the State Department Foreign Service before the two years were up, with an FSS-5 rating (equivalent to a GS-12 rating) and the title of Cultural Officer. I don’t recall the salary increase I received during this time but they were considerably higher than I could have received in public school administration in the States. In addition to salary, I was provided with free housing and medical care for myself and family along with Commissary and Post Exchange privileges. The convenience of a live-in full-time maid which we had while with the Army Dependent Schools was lost when I was employed by the State Department, but we continued to have a maid at a cost of about $30 per month which we paid to the German economy.
In addition to the above there were other fringe benefits that went along with being members of the ‘Occupation Force’. Among these were membership in the U.S. Army Officers’ Club, and transportation at government expense of a new Dodge Coronet from Detroit to Bremen, Germany, in 1951; also free transportation for me and family every two years from my duty station in Germany to our place of residence at Hutchinson, Kansas.
Our personal belongings were moved by State Department trucks from Erzberger Strasse in Karisruhe, where we had lived in the same apartment for three years, to a one-family German home on Leibnitz Strasse on a hill in northwest Stuttgart overlooking the city. At first we missed the German and American friends we had in Karlsruhe, but these were soon replaced by equally charming friends in Stuttgart. However, we continued to keep in touch with friends at the Dependent Schools’ Headquarters by taking week-end drives to Karlsruhe.
Hubert was now three years old and usually went with us on long drives. Leny Kopp, our German maid, had joined our family at Karlsruhe and moved to Stuttgart with us. Of all the maids we had, Leny was the most satisfactory. She was in her early twenty’s, spoke passable English, had previous experience with small children, and a friendly disposition that pleased Hetty from the first. The thing we liked best was the way Leny managed Hubert. He was perfectly content to be left with her when social activities of consular personal and German officials required our attendance.
The German house which was our home for nearly a year was larger than we needed. At the end of World War II it had been confiscated by the U.S. Army to provide housing for American Occupation personnel. The German owners took with them only what they could carry, leaving most of their personal belongings and furniture behind. When we moved in, we were given a copy of the inventory of the property left behind. When we moved out, the inventory was again carefully checked. We were told the home would be returned to the owners along with payment for damage by the U.S. Government, when the Occupation ended. The house stood on the side of a hill and was surrounded by a yard enclosed by a protective stone wall. The street facing the wall was covered with vines of roses in bloom most of the time we lived there. In the backyard there was room for a small garden and several fruit trees, which bore more fruit than we could use. We never saw the German owners of the home. In fact, we were told by the U.S. Army personnel never to allow the owners to trespass on the property, and under no circumstances, to permit them to enter the house. These restrictions appeared to be rather severe, especially when some of the fruit on our trees spoiled because there was more than we could eat. Our German and American neighbors also had fruit tress and so we couldn’t give it away. We would have gladly shared some with the German owners, if that had been permitted.
At the Consulate I was placed in charge of the Exchanges Office where my duties included assisting in the selection of German personnel to participate in the various exchange programs offered in the State of Baden-Württemberg. These programs concerned basically three categories of German personnel – secondary school students, university students under the Fullbright program, and teams of urban city officials and community leaders.
After candidates for the three categories had been selected, there followed seminar-type group meetings of each category for the purpose of orienting individuals regarding the purpose of the exchange program involved. For instance, students selected for the secondary school program were expected to have a good command of English because they would be living with an American family and attending an American high school for a year.
College and university candidates desiring to participate in the Fullbright exchange were more mature and the selection process was very competitive. The State of Baden-Württemberg had three universities (humanistic) – Freiburg, Heidelberg, and Tubingen; and three scientific or vocational universities – at Karlsruhe, Mannheim and Stuttgart. Students attending any of these six institutions of higher learning could apply for an exchange scholarship under the Fullbright program, under which American university students were also selected to attend German universities. I became a member of the committee that selected German students from the six universities in our State. I was later involved with American Fullbright students who attended German universities, and had problems. I remember the only serious problem with which I became involved was that of an American student who came to Freiburg University. He brought his wife and young child. The wife refused to accept the apartment to which they were assigned because it was not warm enough. When I investigated, I found there was a fuel shortage at Freiburg and no warmer apartment was available. When the wife was given this information, she created an unpleasant situation which offended the German neighbors who were trying to assist her. The husband was unable to calm his wife down and asked if it was possible for them to be returned to the States. From an office at the university I made a call to the Exchanges Office in Bonn to explain the situation. Mrs. Meads, who headed that office, asked to speak to the student. When they finished talking, the student thanked me for my assistance and said that the problem had been solved and transportation back to the States was being arranged.
The third category of exchange personnel with which the Consulate was involved were the teams of adult city officials and community leaders. Usually these teams consisted of no more than seven or eight persons from each city of medium size. After an orientation meeting with consulate officials, transportation would be arranged for several such teams to meet in Bonn for final instructions and orientation. From there they would travel to Washington D.C. where they would be met by State Department personal who served as guides for a 3-month tour of medium-sized cities in the U.S. At each city stop, team members were given the opportunity to meet and speak with their American counterparts. There was no requirement that each person in this program could speak English. However, it was hoped at least one person on each team understood enough English to serve as interpreter for his team.
The part of my work with exchanges personnel I enjoyed the most was debriefing the high school and university students when they returned to Germany after attending school in the U.S. for a year. The favorable things they said about the U.S. and Americans made me proud to be American. A number of the younger students spoke of their plans to some day immigrate to the U.S., which was not at all the purpose of the exchanges program.
Living in Stuttgart gave us access to a city nearly twice the size of Karlsruhe, and more beautiful countryside to explore on weekends and holidays. Hubert had been almost three when we had our first two-month leave to Kansas. A train took us to Bremerhaven where we boarded the SS America for an eight-day ride across the Atlantic to New York. Another train ride brought us to Kansas and Hubert met for the first time his grandparents, uncles, aunts, and a number of cousins. For Hetty and me, it was a happy reunion with our families whom we had not seen for nearly three years.
I recall that I had a number of invitations to speak to groups about our experiences in Germany. On one of these occasions, I was speaking at the Congregational Church at Little River, where Hetty and I had lived four years before going to Germany. The church was filled with people we knew and I was getting good attention when Hubert got away from his mother, who was in the audience, and came running to the pulpit where I was. At first I ignored Hubert but when it was obvious he was getting as much, or more, attention than I was, Hetty came to the rescue and I was able to continue. I am not sure how much of my speech was remembered by the audience but no one apparently forgot the interruption Hubert had caused. I must have talked to ten, or more, other groups while we were on leave that time, but Hubert decided his Daddy didn’t need any help.
For me the time with friends and relatives was all too short. A condition of my home leave was that I would spend a week at Washington, D.C. before returning to Germany. During this week my time was taken up being interviewed by various officials in the State Department. Some days I had two interviews, one in the forenoon and one in the afternoon. On other days I might have as many as four separate interviews. I was told this de-briefing procedure took place whenever a State Department officer returned from an oversea’s assignment. I was favorably impressed by the people I met and talked with during the week. The interviews had been scheduled in advance and no time was wasted. However, I had half a day free-time with an escort to see the sights in Washington D.C. Hetty and Hubert stayed in Hutchinson during the week I was in Washington D.C. and joined me later in New York where we boarded the SS America for our return trip to Germany.
In mid-summer of 1953, Consul General Hopkins came to visit my office one day. It was the first time he had paid me a personal visit although I had accompanied him a number of times when he was on official business away from the Consulate and served as his interpreter. Naturally, he and I were well acquainted and as a cultural officer, I was a member of his personal staff. Mr. Hopkins (the name may be fictitious) did not come to my office for an idle chat. I stood when I saw him at the door and invited him to come in, which he did and sat down in the chair in front of my desk. I also sat down and we talked for a while about the work I was doing. Somehow I felt sure he had not come for that reason.
After a short pause, Mr. Hopkins came to the point for his visit I remember the expression on his face looked more as it did at staff meetings in his office. He said the mission of the U.S. military and civilian presence in Germany would change drastically in the next year. The Allies (the United States, England and France) were preparing to recognize Germany as a sovereign nation. A first step in bringing this about would be to discontinue the functions associated with the “military occupation” of Germany by the Allies. Even before Mr. Hopkins said it, I knew my employment at the Consulate would soon be terminated.
Actually, I was not surprised. I accepted the news without emotion and said I knew this would happen sooner or later. He assured me that my work had been completely satisfactory and, if I desired to continue employment with the foreign service, he would recommend my reassignment to the State Department in Washington D.C. The date of my termination was in December 1953, which gave me time to make plans. However, Hetty and I had already discussed the possibility of my termination and were prepared to return to school administration somewhere in the States, unless something more attractive showed up in the meantime.
Knowing I would be in my present employment for no more than six months spurned me on to do my best during the time that remained to me. I did not think I would have a problem finding an administrative school position but, after an absence of five years from the school scene in the U.S., I knew that favorable recommendations from both the Dependents’ School Headquarters and the State Department could be helpful. From the latter I felt sure there was nothing to worry about. However, I had not been entirely in the best graces of Colonel Albert, the Military Chief of the Dependent Schools, at the time I transferred to HICOG in 1951. He was strongly anti-German and I knew this was not the official policy of the top military command in Heidelberg, nor of the State Department in Bonn. My own personal feelings were influenced by the policy of the State Department, and the Dependent Schools were still following guidelines I had assisted in formulating before my transfer.
Fortunately for me, Colonel Albert had been transferred to the States soon after my transfer, and Stan Hergenroeder had been promoted to Acting Director of the Dependent Schools. I knew that I could ask Stan and/or Fred Miller for recommendations if needed. On one of our weekend drivers to Karlsruhe, we informed both the Millers and Hergenroeders that we would be returning to Kansas before the end of the year.
Almost before we knew it, our port call arrived giving us a sailing date early in November.
However, for the second time in less than three years, a phone call marked a turning point in our lives although it did not alter our plans to travel to Kansas. The phone call was from Stan Hergenroeder in Karlsruhe and his first words were, “Stutz, how would you like to be Area Superintendent of our schools in France?”
Actually, I knew almost nothing about the U.S. Army Dependent Schools in France although I knew the Air Force had a number of schools there, and that the headquarters for these schools was in Wiesbaden, Germany. The Army schools had been added after I was employed by HICOG. I had heard that, except for Paris, the schools were mostly small and located in isolated towns scattered from southwest to northeast across central France.
The vacancy for an area superintendent in France had occurred when Richard Meyering, Chief of Secondary Schools in headquarters at Karlsruhe, who had recruited me at Emporia, Kansas, in 1949, was transferred to Japan with the Pacific Area Dependent Schools. To replace him on the Karlsruhe staff, Herman Search, Area Supt. in France, was moved to headquarters in Karlsruhe, and I was being asked to replace Search in France.
Before getting in touch with me, Hergenroeder had called the Overseas Recruiting Office in Washington, D.C., to assure my transfer to the Dependents Schools would be approved. Apparently I had done some things right in the past four years for the transfer was approved almost immediately. The procedure used would be for me to return to the States with my family as planned, and then return to Paris, France, to take over my responsibilities as Area Superintendent. After discussing the offer with Hetty and Mr. Hopkins, I called Hergenroeder and accepted his offer.
Before boarding a ship for New York we spent time in Karlsruhe getting reacquainted with old friends who oriented us quite thoroughly regarding life in France. We would be living in Paris at first and that sounded exotic. Hetty and I had been in Paris before, but living there would be quite another thing we learned later.
I remember little of the two months we spent with family and friends in Kansas. They were mostly disappointed that we hadn’t come home to stay, but also glad that I had an excellent position with the Dependent Schools. From Washington, D.C., I soon learned that Hetty and Hubert would have to remain in Kansas until I had arranged for a place to live in Paris. I couldn’t help but notice that Dad’s health was failing so I spent a lot of time with him. Mama was very spry and seemed to have lots of energy.
‘Good-bye’s’ were harder to say than usual for I was leaving Hetty and Hubert behind when I boarded the plane at Hutchinson on January 13, 1954, headed for Fort McGuire on the east coast. An Army transport 4-engine plane with bucket seats provided transportation to Germany where I picked up our 1952 Dodge Coronet
After bidding farewell to our friends in Stuttgart, I stopped briefly at Karlsruhe for final instructions, and then took off for Paris, some 300 plus miles away, where new responsibilities and experiences awaited me.
I dreaded driving into Paris alone and finding the hotel which would be my home until I was able to find family quarters so Hetty and Hubert could join me. Near Nancy, in France, I was fortunate in picking up a French soldier who was hitchhiking his way to Paris. A new problem faced me when I discovered he spoke no English and I had taken only one course in French at K.U. I had been told in Germany that French people did not like Germans so I hesitated to try speaking German with him. Finally I had no choice and said, “Parlez vous aleman?” With a friendly smile on his face, he replied, “Ja, wohl”
It struck me as funny that here I was, an American, driving in France with a Frenchman, and communicating in German. He had been a German prisoner during the war and could speak German very well. The rest of my drive to Paris was very enjoyable, but I don’t know what I would have done without my German speaking French companion. He was particularly helpful when we came to the city at the busy hour. With him to direct me, we drove almost the full length of the main street – Champs Elysees – and past the Arch de Triumph where twelve streets converged with no ‘gendarmes’ or traffic lights, to control the traffic. Here I learned the one rule that everyone driving in France must know – in traffic, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way. By following this rule, I still had four accidents while driving in France but the police declared me “not at fault” in every case.
At my hotel, I said ‘Auf Wiederseben’ to my French guide and he took the subway to his parent’s home, whom he had come to visit. A note at the hotel desk asked me to call Jean Littlefield, Principal of the Paris American School, as soon as I arrived. She and the Principal of the American High School, Dr. Johnson, joined me for dinner and we spent the evening together. I had known Jean in Germany where she was Teacher-Principal of the American Elementary School at Bremen. Dr. Johnson was Acting Area Superintendent until I arrived.
My first duty was to write to Hetty that I had arrived safely and was on the job. I also informed her that the billeting office in Paris said she would have travel orders in about 90 days.
My first two weeks in France were spent getting acquainted with my office staff consisting of John Lynn, Administrative Assistant, Mrs. Finney, an English national, and a secretary who was the wife of an American soldier. I also started visiting the schools in my area. These were, in addition to the Paris schools, south and south-west of Paris – Orly Field, Fountainbleau, Orleans, Chinon, Saumur, St. Nazaire, La Roche Sur Yon, La Rochelle, Rochefort (high and elementary schools), St. Jean de Angeli, Angouleme, Braconne, Periguex (ancestral home of Paul Revere), Captieux (60 miles south of Bordeaux and about 500 miles south of Paris), Bussac, Potiers, Chatellerault, and east of Paris were Vassincourt, Metz, Sampigny, and Verdun. There were twenty-two elementary schools, and two high schools (I activated a third high school at Orleans, during the one and a half years I was in France). The elementary schools ranged in size from a one-teacher school at Saumur to Paris where there were 600 pupils in the first six grades and 40 teachers in the combined elementary and high school.
Visitations to schools were conducted very much like I had done in Germany when I was responsible for only the work of German personnel. As Area Superintendent I was concerned with all employees of each school, and the visitation schedule called for no less three visitations each year. Schools with special problems were visited more often. The school buildings for up to 200 pupils typically consisted of Quonset huts assembled in tandem to provide as many classrooms as needed. Heat for classrooms was usually provided by stoves burning coal surrounded by a metal shield for protection. Classroom furniture was the same as in the States as were the textbooks used by the pupils. My transportation for school visitation was usually provided by train or military vehicle. Whenever I used my own car for official travel, I was paid mileage.
I remember that teachers and principals in American schools had to live in whatever quarters they could find. The quarters’ allowance, paid by the local U.S. Military Billeting Office, was usually sufficient to pay the rent requested by the French landlord. I recall Richard Dick, Principal of the Orleans Elementary School, and his wife, Sarah, rented quarters in what had once been Napoleon’s hunting lodge. They invited me to stay with them one cold winter night before Hetty and Hubert arrived, and at breakfast the following morning they informed me that the guest room where I had slept had once been the stable for Napoleon’s horses.
Once each month while I was Area Superintendent, the five superintendents (Paris, France, Frankfurt, Kaiserslauten, Nürnberg, and Munich) were called to Headquarters in Karlsruhe for two days of staff conferences to discuss and formulate a variety of school policies. Frequently I took Hetty and Hubert along on these trips after they arrived in April.
In early spring of 1954 Marjorie Parnell was assigned to my office as Elementary Specialist to lighten my load of school visitation.
I well remember the day in April when I drove to Gar del Oest to meet Hetty and Hubert. They had come to Bremerhaven by ship and then taken the train to Paris. Hubert had his fifth birthday while we were in Kansas and had changed considerably since I last saw him three months before. As soon as he spotted me at the rail station he came running but stopped a few feet short and started talking a blue streak. Hetty just watched with a smile to see Hubert’s reaction to seeing his Dad. I was anxious to show them the nice apartment I had found for us two weeks before.
The living quarters I had rented were on the seventh floor of an apartment hotel located less than a mile from my office. The address was 8 Rue des Patures. Paris 16. France. By looking out the kitchen window in the apartment we could see the Eifel Tower, less than half a mile away on the east bank of the Seine River. We were on the west side about a block from the river. Our apartment had a balcony with a good view of the river and south Paris. By paying slightly more than our housing allowance, we also had a garage for our car. When the weather was nice, Hubert spent most of his time on the balcony which had a high railing for safety.
A disadvantage to living in Paris was that we didn’t have a maid to take Leny’s place. We had hoped to bring her along from Stuttgart and she wanted very much to come, but we soon learned the French officials took a dim view of German nationals being brought to France. Several times we had a ‘so-called’ French maid stay with Hubert when Hetty and I wanted to spend an evening with friends. However, they were inexperienced caring for children, had a dislike for Americans, spoke only French, and charged outrageous prices. In the short time I had been in France I learned to speak enough French to get along and travel alone when visiting American schools. Compared to German civilians, the French were arrogant toward Americans. I was told this was caused by the way American GI’s behaved when they first came to France. I recall that Hetty and I went to a French restaurant for dinner once and no one would take our orders. After half an hour of waiting we walked out with unfriendly stares following us to the door. So our social life was confined to a few friendly French couples we knew and Americans employed in the dependent schools. Highlights for us during the year and a half we were in France, were the frequent trips to Karlsruhe for staff conferences.
Although my office was in Paris, the U.S. Army Headquarters in France was in Orleans, 80 miles south of Paris. To distinguish it from USAREUR Hq. in Heidelberg, it was called COM Z Hq, and my office actually belonged to that headquarters. Shortly after Hetty and Hubert arrived, I was informed my office would soon be moved to Orleans. However, before it was moved, we received a telegram from Edna in late June telling us of Papa’s death on Sunday, June 20th, after a stroke the previous Wednesday. He would have been 82 on June 30th.
Here are excerpts from a letter I wrote so Maude on July 4th, 1954 – “Your letter, among others, was waiting for us when we returned from Germany last night. There were two letters from Dorothy, two from Jess and one each from Ruth and Lucretia. There were also sympathy notes from Linscheids, and from Blanche and Dell Sullivan in Attica.
After reading all the letters, with excusable emotion and deep sadness, I now have a clear picture of events from the day Papa had the stroke until after the funeral. To read those letters was harder than it would have been to attend the funeral. It is comforting though to know Papa passed away so quietly and without suffering. It is a fitting end to a long and well-spent life. He had earned his rest and was ready to go – more ready than we were to have him go. I’m so glad we were home this winter and I will remember him as I saw him in January. We were glad to hear Mama stood up well through the ordeal. She and Edna will be quite lonely until they get used to being without Papa around.
I appreciate all you wrote about Papa and his last days and we are waiting for letters from Almeda and Mama, or Edna.
Hubert surprised us this afternoon. Neither of us had tried to explain about Grandpa to him yet because we didn’t think he would understand. He started scribbling on a sheet of paper and I asked him whom he was writing to. Very seriously he said, ‘To Grandma and Edna. Grandpa isn’t there. He died, didn’t he, Daddy?” This surprised both of us as neither of us had talked about it in his presence. He may have heard Hetty read the telegram to me on the phone. Hetty says that since we got the wire Hubert had talked about nearly everyone else at home but never until today did he mention Grandpa.”
Shortly after the above, my office was moved to Orleans. However, living quarters for my family were not available there until December. Until then I commuted the 80 miles between Paris and Orleans when I wasn’t on the road visiting schools elsewhere. During the summer of 1954 I spent considerable time assisting the high school principal in Orleans, Phil Helland, to convert his building to accommodate grades 7 to 12. Previously the building held only grades 7 to 10. While commuting I usually drove to Orleans on Monday and stayed in a hotel two nights, then drove to Paris for Wednesday night and stayed in a hotel again on Thursday night.
John Lynn refused to commute to Orleans when the office was moved and resigned. To take his place, Karlsruhe sent Harry (White) (not his real name) to be my administrative assistant in Orleans. Harry was a cripple – suffered from multiple sclerosis and walked with crutches. He was also a loner and had requested an assignment in France while his divorce was pending. I didn’t know Harry had a girlfriend until the first night I stayed at the hotel in Orleans. He was staying in the same hotel. It was then that he came to my room and admitted he was cohabitating but said he was just waiting until his divorce was finalized in Germany and then he and Mary, the woman he had in his room, would be married. I felt sorry for Harry, who was practically an invalid, and accepted his explanation on the condition that his private life would not interfere with the work in my office. He assured me it would not. As my administrative assistant, Harry and I occupied the same office and came to be good friends. He had a Master’s degree in English and was an excellent writer.
Sometime in the fall of 1954 Harry came to me with another confidential report. Mary was pregnant and under the care of a French doctor in Paris so that no one in the Orleans community would know about their situation. During the pregnancy, Mary traveled to Paris by train for regular check-ups and Harry kept me informed of her progress. As the time of delivery neared, Harry was worried about how he would get Mary to the hospital in Paris. It eased his mind when I said he could call me if they got into a bind without realizing what that promise would lead to.
Sometime in the spring of 1955, after I had just returned home after a week of visiting schools, there was a knock at the door at 1:00 a.m. It was Harry. Mary was having labor pains and we had to get her to the hospital in Paris as soon as possible. Here I quote from a letter I wrote to my sister Maude later that day:
“Twenty minutes after Harry was here I had dressed, driven two miles to where they lived and was loaded with suitcases and people. Mrs. Finney, the British lady who also works at my office was with Mary so we put the two in the back while Harry was in the front seat with me. I was glad Mrs. Finney was along for I knew she had a baby and would be a big help in an emergency. Harry was excited and nervous, I knew he wouldn’t be much help. Mary was behind me and I could feel her pushing on my seat at regular intervals as soon as we started.
Once outside of Orleans I left the highway and took a short-cut where French gendarmes were less likely to be waiting for the speeders. I was driving 60 mph with more groaning and pushing in the back seat and Mrs. Finney urged me to drive faster. I must have been going at least 80 when Mrs. Finney said, ‘Stop, stop!’ When Mary just vomited, I realized she had been drinking. We started up again and I pushed the foot-feed to the floor. After one more ‘false alarm’ stop, we were finally in Paris and I heaved a sigh of relief as Harry directed me to the hospital. Mrs. Finny ran inside to alert a doctor while I assisted Mary to the door. I checked my watch and noted it was two hours and ten minutes since Harry’s knock at the door had awakened me. The 45 minutes we spent in the waiting room seemed like ages but the doctor finally came in to announce a fine baby boy.”
I recall the gas gauge on the Dodge pointed to ’empty’ when Mrs. Finney and I left the hospital at 5:30 A.M. After getting gas we headed for Orleans – two tired and very relieved persons. As a post script to the above, I must add that Harry’s divorce became final a week after little Ralph was born. Yes, Harry and Mary named their child after me for the part I played in getting Mary to the hospital in time.
I apologize for running over into 1955 to finish the story of Harry and Mary, before I covered the opening of schools in September 1954, and our own move from Paris to Orleans in December.
My 24 schools opened on schedule for the 1954/55 school year with the Orleans Junior High School now changed to a Junior-Senior High School with grades 7 through 12. Otherwise, the schools were the same as the previous year. Our first head count showed there were a total of more than 4200 pupils attending the 24 schools staffed by 190 American teachers and administrators.
The Dependent Schools almost always had problems when they opened in the fall. Occasionally some teachers had not yet arrived from the States. Some schools had more teachers than they needed and others didn’t have enough. We tried to keep the pupil-teacher ratio in the elementary schools at 26-28 pupils per teacher. During the first weeks of school, teachers were moved from one school to another to balance teaching loads. One of my principals hadn’t arrived from the States two weeks after school began. Then there was the American teacher who sang with a dance orchestra. She was white as I didn’t have any black personal employed in the schools as yet. The orchestra consisted of all white GI’s except for one black musician. He and the white teacher soloist fell on love and I received a complaint from the post commander at the post where the white soloist was a teacher. I talked with Hergenroeder in Karlsruhe about the situation and he advised me to talk to the teacher and make her aware of the complaint. I did this and she didn’t see anything wrong with what she was doing and said they planned to be married. I then told her the school was overstaffed and I had orders to reduce the staff by one teacher (which was only partially true). The post commander told me a transfer would solve the problem as the community was upset with the teacher. After another call to Hergenroeder and a talk with the school principal, orders were issued to transfer the teacher to a school in Germany that needed the additional teacher. I heard no more about this problem.
Not long afterwards, a U.S. Congressman came to my office to get my sentiments about the use of black teachers in the American schools. I assured him I would have no objection to black teachers but the post commanders would need to cooperate.
Until Hetty and I could move to Orleans in December, Hetty and Hubert didn’t see much of me during weekdays. On weekends I was always at home and relieved Hetty of the responsibility of entertaining Hubert although she never complained about this. I recall that as long as we lived in Paris, Hubert and I took long walks on Sunday and always visited the Eifel Tower which was just across the river and about four blocks up-stream. The bridge on which we usually crossed the river had a statue of liberty on it from which the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor was copied. One Saturday, Hubert and I took the subway to the Paris zoo. It was interesting to me and a real eye-opener for Hubert. He got to ride on an elephant and never tired of watching the various animals. He didn’t like the lions as they roared too loud.
In December we moved into a newly constructed apartment on the Loire River a few miles from my office. There were 12 apartments in our building and Hubert soon found boys his age to play with. On weekends we explored the city of Orleans and the outlying countryside, or we visited with school principals and families of nearby schools.
Time passed quickly and I was always busy, almost too busy, it seemed. In the spring of 1955 Hetty and the staff in my office insisted I take a ten-day vacation and fly to England. The ten-day vacation provided the rest I needed and the balance of the school year passed without serious incidents.
Sometime during the spring of 1955, Hergenroeder called from Karlsruhe to say the Area Superintendent’s position in Frankfurt would be vacant at the end of the school year. Harry Heiges, who now held the position, had asked for a leave of absence to return to Harvard University to complete his Doctorate Degree. I asked Hergenroeder if he had a replacement in mind for the position and he replied that I was the number one candidate, if I would accept the position.
Hetty was elated about returning to Germany where we had many close friends and had come to feel more at home than in France. However, we had both been surprised at the amount of French I had learned since coming to France. Now I could give up studying French to brush up on German again. The rating and pay for the Frankfurt position was the same as I now got in France for the time being but there would be more schools and a larger staff of personnel.
While preparing for the move back to Germany, I also made sure the schools in France were left in good condition for my successor. I recall that General Gallagher, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army in France, was upset when he learned I was being transferred to Germany. He called Dependent Headquarters at Karlsruhe to protest. I was flattered by his efforts but I also wanted very much to return to Germany where my ability to speak German could be utilized. When General Gallagher was informed that I was needed in Frankfurt to fill a more responsible position, he withdrew his objection and I was told to continue preparation for my transfer on about August 1st.
On my last round of school visitations I informed all principals and Post Commanders of my transfer to Germany but assured them I would be replaced by an experienced person to assure a continuation of operation of the schools as they now were. It was on this last round of visits that Hetty and Hubert went with me to the four schools in the northeast part of France. It was in this part of France that the Battle of Verdun had been fought in 1916 during World War I between the Germans and the Allies (France and Britian). The Principal of the Verdun American School was a history buff who had made a study of a number of the battles fields of that war and had promised to take us on a tour of the Verdun Battlefield, if we could stay over until the weekend.
The tour started in the town of Verdun where we saw a very large obelisk covered with the names of local men who had lost their lives during the yearlong struggle. From there we drove through miles and miles of countryside to the east and north of Verdun, on narrow roads. We must have covered several hundred square miles of totally desolate terrain showing little, or no evidence of human habitation for many years. Actually it had been nearly 40 years since two to three million German and Allied soldiers had been engaged in deadly trench warfare for many months with heavy losses on both sides. Some historians estimate that the total loss in human life during that one battle was over one million men. When it was all over neither side had gained more than a few miles of ground. Large areas were fenced off because unexploded artillery shells still lay where they had fallen during the battle. From the road we could see rusted barbed wire entanglements, deep craters where shells had exploded, and endless ditches which had once been the only protection soldiers had from the artillery, machine guns, and rifle fire.
No American soldiers had participated in the Battle of Verdun because the United States did not enter the war until 1917. However, our guide did take us to another area where we saw a large American cemetery where thousands of American soldiers, who had lost their lives in 1917 and 1918 are buried. It was a sobering experience to see the long, straight rows of grave markers, each with the name, rank, and date of death of the soldier who lay buried there with a small American flag waving gently in the breeze.
The last weeks in France passed quickly and the time arrived when we needed only to pack our personal belongings for the move to Frankfurt. At this point I received a call from General Gallagher’s office requesting that I report at his office the following day accompanied by my wife. I presumed this was probably an official farewell meeting. However, a pleasant surprise awaited us.
The next day Hetty and I reported at the General’s quarters at the stated time and were received by the General’s Chief of Staff, who conducted us to a reception room where a number of colonels and a photographer were standing. After Hetty and I had been introduced to the group, the military men present stood at attention as General Gallagher entered the room. He shook hands with Hetty and I, invited her to be seated and for me to come with him. We took our place on the platform and the General’s Aide handed him an official looking document.
While the photographer took flash pictures, General Gallagher turned to me and read from the document in his hand. When he finished he congratulated me and walked to where Hetty was seated and gave her the citation he had read.
To say I was overwhelmed by what had just taken place would not be an overstatement. I was almost speechless as each Colonel of the General’s staff congratulated me and thanked us for coming.
A short time later we received a letter from my mother who had received a photograph of General Gallagher shaking my hand, and a copy of the citation. She was apparently a bit puzzled by it all, but never afterwards asked about it.
Copyright 2004 American Overseas Schools Historical Society