Subscribe
Hanau Lord Mayor Claus Kaminsky characterized his city’s 63-year relationship with the U.S. Army as a “circle of solidarity, trust and friendship.”

Hanau Lord Mayor Claus Kaminsky characterized his city’s 63-year relationship with the U.S. Army as a “circle of solidarity, trust and friendship.” (Kevin Dougherty / S&S)

Hanau Lord Mayor Claus Kaminsky characterized his city’s 63-year relationship with the U.S. Army as a “circle of solidarity, trust and friendship.”

Hanau Lord Mayor Claus Kaminsky characterized his city’s 63-year relationship with the U.S. Army as a “circle of solidarity, trust and friendship.” (Kevin Dougherty / S&S)

Kaminsky was joined on the dias by Col. Ray Graham, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hessen. While the U.S. military presence in Hanau will continue for a few more months, city officials formally said their goodbyes at a ceremony Thursday evening.

Kaminsky was joined on the dias by Col. Ray Graham, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hessen. While the U.S. military presence in Hanau will continue for a few more months, city officials formally said their goodbyes at a ceremony Thursday evening. (Kevin Dougherty / S&S)

HANAU, Germany — Sixty-three years ago, Army Maj. Thomas Turner Jr. strolled into a villa overlooking the Main River and found it to be a most suitable place from which to oversee the U.S. military administration in Hanau.

He and his men had a daunting task. Approximately 90 percent of the city center was in ruins. Locals were hungry and tired and suspicious. And there were pockets of resistance here and there. The birthplace of the Grimm Brothers was truly a grim place.

“In 1945,” said Claus Kaminsky, Hanau’s current lord mayor, “you gave us your hand and built bridges, which led us from yesterday to today.”

Today, the U.S. military presence in Hanau is winding down. Nearly every day moving trucks arrive empty and leave full. By summer’s end, the city will be void of American soldiers, and that’s no fairy tale.

So on Thursday evening, Hanau and U.S. Army dignitaries gathered at Turner’s old headquarters to bid each other farewell. One more wave of accolades is planned for Aug. 8, when the U.S. Army holds an inactivation ceremony.

“It needs to be remembered,” Staff Sgt. Melvin Baldwin said of the shared history. Hopefully, he added, “the memories will continue.”

Turner’s command post is now a well-preserved community center called the Olof-Palme Haus, where the walls are chalky and thick and the wooden floorboards creak underfoot.

On Thursday, the place was bedecked with American and German flags. The 100 or so people who attended the ceremony listened to speeches, sipped sparkling wine, nibbled on hors d’oeuvres and listened to a five-piece jazz band consisting of German musicians.

For tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers, Hanau “had become a home away from home,” said Army Col. Ray Graham, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hessen, “a place where we felt welcome and cared for.”

The city, he added, “has become, and will remain, a place that we will dearly miss.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now