From the Stars and Stripes archives

Wiesbaden goes big time

A FORMER U.S. sergeant — by his suggestion — is responsible for the building of the world's largest cuckoo clock — which is itself used as a sales room for the unique timepieces.

One day, less than a year ago, Sgt Fred Stern, formerly of the Kaiserslautern military police, but now of New York City, passed along the suggestion to his uncle, Emil Kronenberger, the store's owner.

Stern told his uncle that Americans "would go for the idea." Kronenberger has received write-ups in periodicals all over the world and has people stopping by, saying they had read about the clock in some far-off country.

The store is designed in the shape of a cuckoo clock with a timepiece actually keeping time on the store's front, complete with the peek-a-boo box on top. The diameter of the dial measures about 6 feet.

Kronenberger revealed how a bit of subterfuge was necessary to build the structure. It is in a restricted area, where the Wiesbaden town fathers wanted only substantial buildings erected.

One night, weeks before actual building began, a 20-foot high fence was erected on the front of the property. The police nightly peeked behind to see what was going on, but soon they wearied of the detail.

At 4 o'clock one morning a crew began work on the cuckoo clock, completing the job that afternoon. When they took the fence down, the town fathers were faced by a fait accompli — it was up and could not be ordered down.

Kronenberger fled Germany in 1939, joined the French Army and founded the Committee of Liberation of the Rhineland in France, an underground organization active in the 40s. Kronenberger received a captain's commission from Gen. Charles de Gaulle.