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German Maj. Achim Poch, left, 12th Panzer Brigade logistics officer, and Lt. Col. Myron Reineke, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment commander, chat Thursday at the opening of an exhibit on German-American friendship in Vilseck, Germany.

German Maj. Achim Poch, left, 12th Panzer Brigade logistics officer, and Lt. Col. Myron Reineke, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment commander, chat Thursday at the opening of an exhibit on German-American friendship in Vilseck, Germany. (Seth Robson / S&S)

VILSECK, Germany — Soldiers from 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment can learn about German-American friendship while they chow down, thanks to an exhibit at one of the regiment’s dining facilities that runs until Jan. 10.

The exhibit of dozens of photographs accompanied by written material outlines the evolution of friendship between Germans and Americans since 1873, according to 2nd Cavalry civil affairs officer Capt. Julia Baun.

“It celebrates Germans’ role in shaping America and vice versa,” she said, adding that the same exhibit, with German text, is on show at Theuern Castle near Amberg this month.

The exhibit includes photographs of a Graf Zeppelin airship over New York in 1929, President Kennedy in Berlin in 1963, German Hollywood actress Marlene Dietrich, and German space pioneer Wernher Von Braun.

It does not gloss over the two world wars in which the nations were on opposite sides. It includes an image from Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 satirical film “The Great Dictator,” which mocks Adolf Hitler, and a photograph of the sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania by a German U-boat in 1915, costing more than 120 American lives.

Also featured is a front page of Stars and Stripes from May 8, 1945, announcing the end of the war in Europe with the headline, “Nazis Quit!”

Speaking at Wednesday’s Vilseck exhibit opening, attended by German 12th Panzer Brigade and 2nd Cav soldiers, Maj. Peter Haug, of the German Non Commissioned Officer Academy at Weiden, said he learned about American culture growing up in Germany.

Haug said he was introduced to American things by his godfather, a U.S. Army veteran.

“I grew up with peanut butter and Hershey’s chocolate at a time when these things were not available in Germany,” he recalled.

Haug said he first visited the U.S. in 1986 and has been back several times, including a 1989 trip where he trained with the 82nd Airborne Division and earned his American parachute jump wings.

Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Martinez, 2nd Cavalry Regiment command sergeant major, told soldiers gathered at the exhibit opening about some prominent German Americans including physicist Albert Einstein, Brooklyn Bridge designer Johann August Roebling and Maj. Gen. Baron von Steuben, who fought in the American War of Independence.

“Our independence probably wouldn’t have happened without his assistance,” Martinez said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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