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Reese Barracks

 

Reese Barracks, located between Augsburg’s districts Pfersee and Kriegshaber, were with 45 ha (= approx. 111 acres) the largest of Augs­burg’s kasernes with a north-south axis of 900 and an east-west axis of 500 meters. It was named for Medal of Honor Recipient James W. Reese, Private, U.S. Army, 26th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division, who had been killed at Mt. Vassillio, Sicily, on August 5, 1943.

The Arras, Somme and Panzerjäger Wehrmacht kasernes, constructed 1934 -1936, were occupied - with only minor air raid damages - after WW II by the U.S. Army. Arras and Somme kasernes in the south reflected the typical design concept for artillery kasernes with horse-drawn ordnance: four U-shaped clinker brick building complexes with about 310 meters of riding halls and 380 meters of stables. These horseshoe-shaped complexes enclosed lawn areas that could be used for horse training. The street name An der Pferdeweide (At the Horse Pasture) reminds even nowadays of this component of the kaserne’s past. The northern Panzerabwehrkaserne’s concept was different as these units were motorized. Therefore, they had four long motor pools, totaling 580 meters of garage doors plus shops. All three kasernes were constructed with nearby barracks with parade grounds and mess halls IAW the standard Wehrmacht design.

The later character of Reese barracks had many attractive facets, especially as the U.S. Army had constructed several buildings for the social infrastructure and utilization alterations. For many years, there was a Labor Service camp at Sommestraße. The most obvious structures were doubtless the 1971 steel construction of the antenna tower in the northwest and the two clinker brick chimneys of the heating plant. They really symbolized the U.S. presence in Augsburg. The Officers Club, later Recreation Center, Bldg 33 - today the City of Augsburg’s cultural center “abraxas” - supplemented the structural composition of Reese Barracks.

A look back: Immediately after the end of WW II, the U.S. did not require the vast amount of Wehrmacht kasernes in Germany. It was much more important to send the immense troop contingents that were stationed in Europe back to the States ASAP. There was even a “points” system for a fairer return schedule. The U.S. utilized Arras Kaserne at first as a hospital and POW camp. In 1947, an official turn over of the hospital to the City of Augsburg took place. The free barrack buildings were utilized later as Westkrankenhaus Augsburg. Until 1950, UNRRA of the United Nations administrated the housing of 2.500 DPs (Displaced Persons) from Ukraine alone at Somme Kaserne. However, there was also a great number of DPs from other East European countries.

Due to the most dangerous Cold War confrontation in the 1950s, the permanent stationing of U.S. Forces in Augsburg became evident.

The official union of the three former Wehrmacht kasernes as Reese Barracks was carried out as late as in 1953. During the following two decades, only minor repair and maintenance projects could be executed because of insufficient Operation and Maintenance Army (OMA) funds. From 1976 thru approx. 1981, the MOUSF program (Modernization of U.S. Facilities), funded by the German Government, brought barracks and mess halls up to German Bundeswehr standards. Beginning in 1981, OMA as well as Minor Construction and Military Construction Army (MCA) projects were generously funded. They were, however, terminated a few years later due to the unexpected breakdown of the Warsaw Pact Bloc.

Die Reese“, as it was called almost flatteringly by many Augsburgers, was the heart of the huge Augsburg kaserne area that included the adjoining BOQ at Ulmerstraße, the Guest House at Reinöhlstraße, the warehouses at Sommestraße, the High School next to the German-American Carnival Ground, and Quartermaster Kaserne (Supply Center) for more than fifty years. For a long time, the Community Commander’s headquarters were located at Reese.

 

The northern area of Reese Barracks (then Panzerabwehrkaserne), a short time after it’s construction in the late 1930s. In the foreground Ulmer Straße in direction of Kriegshaber.

 

The guardrooms at the east and west gates of Reese Barracks were almost identical. Shown is the guardroom in Bldg 3 at Langemarckstraße Gate.

 

Like a warning index finger, the steel antenna tower could be seen from any place at Reese Barracks. The two pairs of parabolic antennas are facing Bonstetten resp. Gablingen.

 

                                             View of Reese’s western area with the antenna tower.

 

                     Exterior and interior view of the antenna tower’s strictly prohibited control room.

 

                                                Barracks and parade ground at Langemarckstraße.

 

                                                               Barracks at Langemarckstraße.

 

Left: Vehicle wash rack with ramp at Ulmer Straße; in the background Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ) and St. Thaddäus church, Kriegshaber. Right: Gymnasium.

 

Left: An der Pferdeweide“. In the background former riding halls, the antenna tower and Augsburg’s GaskesselRight: Backside of a motor pool in the northern area, St. Thaddäus in the background.

 

Left: The German Kantine (canteen) in the center of Reese Barracks. Right: Typical clinker brick buildings (former horse stables) at Reese.

 

Old acacias in contrast to the red clinker brick of the Admin Bldgs 26 and 27, home of the Facilities Engineer / DEH and of the Regional Contracting Office, in the middle of the kaserne area.

 

                  The two chimneys of the heating plant could be seen from all over Reese Barracks.

 

Lost worlds at Reese: Luxuriant green along the roads versus old, unexploited buildings in backyards. Here: The former laundry, Bldg 28.

 

View of the eastern area of Reese (former Somme Kaserne) with Tennis Court, Theater and Recreation Center.

 

                        Barracks and Mess Hall (2nd Photo from top), eastern area at Sommestraße.

 

Safety is green: U.S. installed emergency exits w/ stairwells leading towards beautiful weeping willows, planted between the barracks during Wehrmacht’s time.

 

Left: Engineer Supply Point between Somme- and Reinöhlstraße, apart from the barracks area.

Right: Motor pools at Sommestraße Main Gate.

 

Kaserne culture of different armies: Left a typical Wehrmacht mural (above the entrance of Somme mess hall), Right: U.S. incentive inscriptions in a barracks’ stairwell (please click for enlargement of image).

 

For further information about Reese Barracks, please see also:

> Reese Recreation Center, > Naming Real Property, > Religious Culture

 

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