Kaiserslautern exhibition to celebrate German reservists

Writing the last page

Germany's Working Group for the Missing, which finds and excavates the remains of planes and crews that crashed during World War II, excavated a British Lancaster bomber from a field on the edge of Laumersheim, Germany, Sept. 15, 2012.

By MATT MILLHAM | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 27, 2012

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The state of Rheinland-Pfalz will mark Germany’s national “Day of the Reservists” in Kaiserslautern on Saturday with an exhibition of military and emergency services equipment, a military band and a display of parts and photographs from the recent excavation of a World War II bomber.

The event begins at 10 a.m. with exhibits throughout downtown, and ends at 5 p.m. Similar events are scheduled in other cities around the country.

Many German citizens “are not very well informed” about the armed forces, national security and security policy, German reserve Lt. Michael Weis, a spokesman for the state’s reservists association, said in an email to Stars and Stripes. With Saturday’s exhibition, the association hopes to change this, he added.

The event will feature German military, police and firefighting equipment, including a self-propelled howitzer, all-terrain vehicles, trucks and other gear in the city’s Willy-Brandt-Platz, Weis said. A U.S. forces police cruiser will also be exhibited, a spokesman for the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base said.

Demonstrations by German rescue dogs and their handlers will take place throughout the day beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Willy-Brandt-Platz, Weis said.

An army field kitchen and a central stage with music by a German reserve band will take over the city’s Stiftsplatz, near the Stiftskirche. Information desks for the city’s fire department, the federal police and German army will be set up on a nearby street, Am Altenhof.

Schillerplatz, sandwiched between Am Altenhof and Fruchthallstrasse, will be dedicated to exhibits of historical military uniforms and a display by the German World War II plane crash recovery organization Working Group for the Missing.

Uwe Benkel, head of the crash recovery organization, said his group’s exhibit will include parts found during its Sept. 15 excavation of a British Lancaster bomber that crashed just west of Mannheim in 1943. The group will also display photographs of an American B-17 that crashed in the middle of Kaiserslautern in January 1944, as well as photographs and other documentary items from other crash sites.

Members of a German reserve unit that assisted in excavating the Lancaster and recovering human remains believed to belong to five of the plane’s crew will also attend the event, Benkel said.

“We want to show the public what armed forces, reservists and our partners from the civil emergency services do for our country and can do for everyone,” Weis wrote. “Everyone who is interested is very welcome.”

Twitter: @mattmillham

Searchers use a backhoe and hand tools to dig through soil and debris for the wreckage of a British Lancaster bomber and the remains of five of its crewmembers. Germany's Working Group for the Missing, which works to locate and recover those who died in plane crashes during World War II.


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