Immediately after the end of WW II, the victorious U.S. troops took to bring religious activities back to life. On April 29, 1945, only one day after Augsburg’s occupation, a field service was held at St. Anna church. On May 06, a second victory and thanksgiving service was held in which Army Chaplain S. Donnelly read a declaration One week after that, a solemn service in commemoration of the Europe wide victory of the Allies was held. On May 20, 1945, about 1.200 U.S. soldiers gathered for a service at St. Anna. Further, Headquarters 7th Army organized peace services, as shown in movies of May 30, 1945 (Army Pictorial Center NY). This is also verified by the original of a St. Anna church memorandum, dated Sunday morning, June 17, 1945. Until February 1946, the choir of the 71st Infantry Division, at that time stationed in the area, was active in Augsburg’s greater churches.
In the fifties, the construction of chapels took care of the religious requirements of the soldiers and their dependents. A standard design with minor local modifications was utilized for the construction of about 150 chapels in almost all German U.S. garrisons until 1970. In Augsburg, these were located at Flak Kaserne, Sheridan Kaserne and Gablingen Kaserne as well as at Centerville Housing Area. As no new chapel was constructed in Reese Barracks, the centrally located Building 36 was altered to a chapel. A special feature of the chapels was a usually small open or louvered belfry. The bells were small and accordingly had a clear chime. In the early years, Sheridan Kaserne utilized a former Wehrmacht building for 240 attendants, similar to that in Reese Barracks, as a chapel (Bldg. 168), located next to the Pfersee Gate. Already in the summer of 1945, U.S. soldiers constructed a church in the attic of Headquarters, 5th Regiment 71st Infantry Division (Flak Kaserne, Bldg 208). It was registered as 251st QM Chapel. At the beginning of the 1950s, there are chapels listed at Infantry Kaserne, at the Flak Hospital, as well as an Artiellery Chapel.
The chapels could be used by all religions and confessions including the Jewish Community. Cooperation between the different clergymen is said to have been relatively free of conflicts. The Religious Services & Activities for U.S. Forces in Augsburg provided voluntary scripture lessons, bible hours and choir singing. Christening and wedding ceremonies were held in the chapels, and more than one German Fräulein said here “Yea, I will“ to her U.S. soldier. On the other side, in 1986, Catholic American candidates for Confirmation received the sacrament by the Bishop of Augsburg at St. Thaddäus church. The cooperation between Catholic, Protestant and American authorities was good. Services were also held at graduations. Also, there were funeral services for soldiers who died during duty or leisure.
In Advent of 1986, the Protestant Deanery initiated joint German-American services, alternating every six months between St. Anna (Advent) and Sheridan Chapel (Pentecost). There were no official Christian holidays, due to the strict separation of Church and State, one talked about a Christian and not an ecclesiastical life.
Chaplains changed, like most of the troop units, every third year. Up to seven chaplains were active at weddings, predominantly from the different Protestant communities. All of them had an officer’s rank and a regular military training. They participated in maneuvers and during the time of the 11th Airborne Division, they even parachuted with their protégées. The Afro-American soldiers had their own chaplain for emotional gospel / spiritual services.
At first sight, the American chapels of the Augsburg garrison had no striking features, nevertheless, as a cultural reminiscence, they should be shown in their originality.
In the early years, Building 168 with a later on added plain small belfry served as chapel. Later it was, inter alia, the Boy Scouts´clubroom. The building was located at Grasiger Weg, next to a gate of the former Heeresnachrichten Kaserne. Although it is claimed that the building was altered to a club room in 1951 and at the same time, allegedly, was cut off from the adjoining Wehrmacht building on its west side, it is, at least until 1959, shown as a chapel on the official site map of the kaserne. Photos by the 11th Airborne Division 1956-58 substantiate the utilization as a church due to the pointed small belfry.