America in Augsburg

Our second field trip took us to the outskirts of the city center, the former American military base Sheridan and its last remaining buildings. One of the, Building 116 is currently being converted into a museum. Before the arrival of the U.S.-Army, the Wehrmacht used building 116 as a satellite camp of the concentration camp in Dachau. We meet with members of the initiative “Amerika in Augsburg” dedicated to perserve the American military heritage in Augsburg. Max Lohrmann, Thomas Dollriess and Rick Cervenka gave us a tour of the premises.

Within a radius of about 50 kilometers around Augsburg, 7 nuclear depots could be found from the 1960s to the 1980s, all of them were heavily guarded by three fences and guards with dogs. Some of them were used as ammunition or artillery shell storage units, and often short lived. Former U.S.-Army Major Rick Cervenka talked about his time as a soldier in Frankfurt and Augsburg. First of all, he explained that nukes weren´t called nukes but ‘special weapons’, even though everybody knew about their capabilities. Although the soldiers would not work with real nuclear weapons, they were training with replicas so that in the unlikely event of a commanded nuclear attack they would know how to use the real ones. The real nuclear missiles had a range of 700 and 1000 kilometers, rockets are less accurate though, whereas missiles can be fired a lot more precisely. Finally, like any other weapon, they would raise the question whether firing nuclear missiles from far away would have a smaller impact on the person responsible for firing it. Rick Cervenka said that in the end it didn´t matter, whoever would have pulled the trigger would have killed people and this always comes at a certain cost.

The trip ended with a group picture in the building, next to the still working army vehicles, quite amazing if you think about how long they´ve been standing around…

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