Museum honoring American military presence in Rheinland-Pfalz is planned
July 6, 2008
RAMSTEIN, Germany — German government officials want to build a museum that will showcase the U.S. military’s history and presence in the western state of Rheinland-Pfalz.
Paul Junker, deputy mayor for the Ramstein-Miesenbach community, said officials have put together a four-year plan to build the $400,000 center in the middle of Ramstein village. German officials hope the museum will attract Germans from around the area and Americans, especially veterans who once called Ramstein their home base.
"Millions of Americans have come through here, and they are welcome here any time," Junker said.
The idea for the museum comes at a time when the U.S. military has downsized its presence in Germany and village business owners have seen fewer Americans venturing off base to shop due to deployments and a weak dollar. German officials are hoping the center will help bring Americans and Germans closer together.
The museum, which will include historical photographs and artifacts, would be the only one of its kind in Germany and possibly Europe. Politicians are eyeing an old cinema house in town as a possible site.
Where the money will come from to pay for the center has not been determined, but Junker said he is hopeful that the state of Rheinland-Pfalz will contribute the bulk of the funds. The U.S. military has not offered any money to help build the museum.
"We will do it," Junker said. "I don’t know when and where, but we will do it."
The history of the U.S. military in Ramstein dates to the early 1950s. Ramstein Air Base is the military’s largest in Europe and the Kaiserslautern area is home to roughly 43,000 Americans, making it the largest American community outside the United States. In the Ramstein-Miesenbach Union Community, a group of five local villages, Americans make up about one-third of the population.