Beginning and Development
During the first years after the end of WW II, there was a law and order vacuum in the bombed-out German towns. Police structures had been abolished. There were basically only women, children and old folk in the built-up areas. Crimes were, due to abject poverty, concentrated on need-related crime, black market, smuggling and plundering up to robbery in revenge for former forced labor. The desperate situation of refugees, vagabonding homeless and displaced persons of various countries led to conflicts with the law. The misery of the lost war caused severe problems for the victors and their local military administrations. The occupying forces were, so far, not prepared for a longer stay in Germany.
So, from the summer of 1946 until the end of 1952, the Constabulary as occupying police was functioning as the basic police powers. At Gablingen as well as Sheridan Kaserne was the 74th Constabulary Squadron (C-Company) from 1945 until 1946, equipped with horses, motorcycles, jeeps and M8 Greyhound Reconnaissance Cars) to enforce their monopoly. From September 1947 until the end of 1948, there was the 2nd Constabulary Regiment, 68th Constabulary Squadron, and until the end of 1950 the 2nd Light Armored Cavalry Regiment at Reese Barracks and Sheridan Kaserne (at that time named differently). The post-war, foremost military traffic on Autobahnen and Landstraßen was included in the surveillance. Traffic education was a special concern.
Beginning in November 1951, the Constabulary as Light Armored Cavalry was redeployed closer to the interior German border and, in Augsburg, replaced by the first reserve unit of the 43rd Division (National Guard). This military upgrade was due to the Korean War and the growing communist threat to the world.
The troop intern police powers were, besides by the MP units of the Augsburg Division Headquarters, at the same time also ensured by the regular MP units of the Augsburg post. The Law Enforcement Units reflected the development of he U.S. military presence in Germany in a very special way.
The Railway Security Liaison Office Augsburg at the Hauptbahnhof was a local peculiarity from 1948 until 1956. The 7747th Railway Security Group ensured the security of rail transport of military personnel and goods as well as the track system. The step-by-step buildup of the DB Bahnpolizei (Deutsche Bundesbahn railway police) as well as the continual decrease of U.S. forces carriage by rail led to the unit’s decommission in 1956.
In June 1948, the U.S. Military Police organized a separate Highway Patrol for maintaining traffic safety and public order. At first stationed in Augsburg as Detachment A, 536th MP Service Company, and from September 1951 as 62nd MP Highway Patrol Company, up to 275 troopers served in the American zone as so called ‘Weiße Mäuse’ (white mice). This small security troop that was also confronted by war criminals on the run and Nazi sympathizers, could only return to its actual purpose within the Army after the build-up of an armed German police and the inauguration of the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) of the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949.
Each Highway Patrol, consisting of five detachments, was under the command of the higher MP battalion. The detachments were now only responsible for the safety of the Autobahn and the country roads. Serving with them was considered to be serving in an elite and therefore much sought after unit, especially as it enabled a first link between the victors and the defeated. COL H. Norman Schwarzkopf sen, father of Gulf War’s (1991) GEN H. Norman Schwarzkopf jun was essentially involved in the foundation of the Highway Patrol. The emblem of the Highway Patrol, followed that of the New Jersey State Police, the home state of the family, which was designed by his grandfather, Julius G. Schwarzkopf.
The omnipresent slogan ‘Service, Prevention, Enforcement’ made clear that the character of the ‘Weiße Mäuse’ had definitely to be understood as amounting to more than mere police tasks, especially as traffic safety due to the then relatively low traffic volume on the roads could not be central to the police work. Manifold support of motorists, including Germans, soon gave them the status of a parallel ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil Club, actually founded in 1903, disbanded by the Nazi regime, and re-founded in 1946). Regional newspapers printed favorable and entertaining articles about it.
1951: 536th MP Service Company (Detachment A) at the Autobahn access Augsburg East (above) and in the city (below). (Photos: 62nd Highway Patrol History).
Local presence of HP departments mostly took place beside important roads and the Autobahn, as e.g. in Augsburg at the U.S. Forces Service Station (Bldg 1500) at the Autobahn Access East. In 1951, all vehicles were parading for a photo shot on the empty lane: six Humpback Fords, two Willys Jeeps) and two Harley Davidson motorcycles, the same as in May in the heart of the city. Augsburg’s Detachment A, 536th MP Service Company’s area of activity reached as far as Landsberg and Fürstenfeldbruck, as well as Donauwörth, Ulm and Ingolstadt. The 536th was present in Augsburg as a regular MP unit from 1946 until 1954, followed by C Company, 793rd MP Battalion until 1957. Augsburg’s Detachment C, 62nd MP Highway Patrol Company had, after the closure of several MP posts in 1955, an enormous area of activity in south Germany. A second HP unit was located at the Infantry Kaserne in the Hochfeld district, which was also the home of the Augsburg Provost Marshall.
From 1951 until 1953, the duty vehicles of the MP were replaced with typical limousines. The Chevrolets and Ford Sedans with a proud top speed of 150 km/h decisively surpassed the rest of the general traffic. At the same time, the color of the flashing beacon was changed from red to blue, and the American type siren was replaced with the typical German police siren. The armband of the MP soldiers showed the MP as well as the HP insignia.
Highway Patrol 1951: Above: Receiving aid. Below: Team with an officer of the German Landpolizei at an Autobahn exit near Augsburg (Photos: 62nd Highway Patrol History).
Pretty soon after the war, joint patrols with the German police - called ‘Motor’ resp. ‘Walking Patrols’ in the service jargon - were common. The German police officers did not only support the U.S. officers to overcome language barriers, they also served as experts and mediators in regard to German traffic and local knowledge.
Outside of the towns, this was the job of the members of the former Gendarmerie. With the increasing German sovereignty (the Occupation Statute of Germany of April 10, 1949 was drawn up on May 5, 1955), the Highway Patrol was deactivated and allotted to the regular Military Police in September of 1958.
Left: Members of the 536th MP Service Company at Reese Barracks in 1951. Right: 62nd Highway Patrol during a traffic control in 1955 (Photos: 62nd Highway Patrol History).
Left: A 62nd HP Company patrol car crew (Photo: 62nd Highway Patrol History). Right: Driving safely´admonishment. A note found 2006 at Sheridan Kaserne.
‘Cold War’ and its Influence on the City Events
There was a lot of work for the MP from 1956 until 1958. During that time the parachutists of the notorious 11th Airborne Division were stationed in Augsburg. Many of those made trouble regularly. On the other side, the very same unit was successfully taking care of the integration into the residential population of Augsburg in so far unknown proportions of effort. During the following twelve years with the 24th Infantry Division and, temporarily, up to 30,000 Americans in Augsburg (soldiers, dependents and DOD civilians), the everyday needs of all of these people influenced the public life in Augsburg. Not only in traffic, but also in clubs and inns, this presence of the military could not remain without consequences, including a certain degree of criminal potential.
Alcohol, drugs, robbery, noise, rape, prostitution, brawls, vandalism, racism, traffic accidents with and without flight of the driver – the MP had to bother with all of these things that were dumped on the inhabitants of Augsburg, plus the crimes within the U.S. installations. There were also all kinds of sovereign duties, like escorting military convoys thru the city. Even one or other inexperienced GI had to be kind of reduced from a ‘victorious power rights’ conduct to present time reality.
Gasoline theft by LNs in the U.S. installations, sometimes even supported by U.S. soldiers, was a typical crime during the early stationing years. When on Easter Sunday 1966 a drunk 20 years old U.S. soldier turned over 88 gravestones at the Catholic graveyard at Kriegshaber and demolished additional graves, the national psyche began to boil over. The press published extensive articles in regard to this unacceptable accident. With a reconciliation mass and the donation of a huge mosaic for the benediction hall of the cemetery, then commander General Edward L. Rowny made efforts for compensation. A number of unresolved murders of women were once and again considered to be a part of the military environment. Solving conflicts between GIs and German civilians was a central theme for the MP. Well-directed preventive measures however, considerably reduced the number of crimes committed by soldiers.
MP in front of Headquarters Bldg 24th Infantry Division at Flak Kaserne, 1958. (Photos: Karl Lee).
Any criminalization of the American soldiers, least of all their dependents, however, would be absurd. Unfavorable circumstances, among others the draft system, which led young men far away from home and into the, for them unfamiliar, German culture. Frustration and homesickness led to many impetuous actions. Also, the barracks situation of those earlier years was not exactly pleasant. The quota of crimes was actually not higher than that on the German side.
The MP Station at Reese Barracks was located in Bldg 24, the billets were in Bldg 2 along Langemarckstraße. At Sheridan Kaserne, the MP Station with cells and dog kennel was at Bldg 148 of the former Heeresnachrichten-Kasernenwache at Mittlerer Weg. Until the late 1960s, Bldg 300, Infantry Kaserne, was utilized as MP Station (the Bldg is still existing!). Flak Kaserne’s MP Station including a cellblock was located at Bldg 209, the former Hauptwache. The guards of the 2nd Battle Group, 2nd Infantry (Regiment) ensured the security of the 24th Infantry Division at Gablingen Kaserne; a separate MP Station of the 24th MP Co is not known there. The later ‘Wullenwever Field Station’, however, had a separate small guard house in front of the building for the first check, plus a MP ‘desk’ in the entrance area of Bldg 1801 for a closer look and the search for illicit items.
(Remarks: From 1957 -1977 several reflaggings and reassignments of the C Companies to the 508th, 793rd and 385th MP Battalions took place. In October 1977, Company C, 3855th MP Bn was renamed 218th MP Company and since 1982 it belonged to the 793rd MP Battalion. The unit had several outposts all over southeast Germany. From December to March 1992, this unit participated in the Iraq War. This unit was located in Augsburg for the longest time).
In the 1970s. Left: a MP-jeep of the 385th MP Battalion at Reese Barracks. Right: In its first 1975 issue, the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung reported on a rescue action from a burning apartment building, in which a MP member was assisting.
1973: Soldiers of the 385th MP Battalion at Reese Barracks. Two platoons with about 150 personell were stationed in Augsburg (Photo: Jim Sewell).
Lining up at Reese Barracks: 385th MP Battalion, 1973 (Photo: Robert J. Bruy).
The MP-Station in Building 148, Sheridan Kaserne, in the 1980s.
Left: Entrance of Sheridan MP Station. Right: Cellblock of MP Bldg 209, Flak Kaserne.
Everyday life of the Military Police proceeded until 1992 with mixed patrols, especially with Polizeiinspektion (PI) 6 in Pfersee. It is said that cooperation with other PIs was not always equally successful as that with the American influenced western one. Evidently this was due to language problems, but maybe also due to the lack of contact with the American way of life as in Augsburg’s west. So there were curious misunderstandings, e.g. on the occasion of a fatal GI bathing accident in the Kuhsee (lake), because the German police officers did not understand the actual sense of the American remark ‘zuviel Wasser getrunken‘ (did drink too much water). On the other side, the Americans surprised the German police with easy conflict solutions, like unplugging a Hi-Fi appliance without further ado after a complaint about party noise. The experiences of the MP soldiers were indeed quite varied.
Infamous were the MP actions during brawls and riots in bars and clubs. Peace was tersely restored with truncheons. A former Augsburg MP answered a question in regard to the selection of this type of violence and its relativity with ‘being in charge’. Forceful actions like that led to legendary reports. The strongholds of gastronomic employments were, of course, in Oberhausen and Pfersee. With the opening of clubs with bars in the kasernes, but also with the change of military units due to the increase of the MI, the western districts of the city became more and more quiet. At the same time, however, the American west isolated itself from the life in the rest of the city. There was no fuss about the many U.S. soldiers who, liking the hearty cooking and the friendly get-together, appreciated burgeois inns, at the same time learning to like the German (Bavarian) beer as well as the girls of Augsburg.
A rather unpopular MP unit for many an American as well as German was the 42nd MP group (Customs). This unit, stationed in Augsburg from 1968 until ca. 1994, was responsible for custom affairs, e.g. moving of troop units or families from and to CONUS, control of mail, fighting against illegal trade with duty free US goods (esp. alcoholic beverages and cigarettes) and controlling the drug trafficking (since 1970).
Reese MP Station (Bldg 24) in the 1970s (Photo: Jim Sewell)
Arresting scene in April 1982. A police officer in civilian clothes and two MP soldiers in uniform on duty at Reinöhlstraße (Photo: Thomas Werthefrongel).
From 1992 until 1996, i.e. the final presence of the 66th MI, the 615th MP Company 793rd MP Bn, from November 1997 until base closure, elements of the 630th MP Company of the same battalion were active in the permanently dwindling U.S. Military Community Augsburg. It was this MP unit under the command of SGT Don Wyler and CPT Wayne Brox who officially returned the keys of Sheridan Kaserne to the Federal Republic of Germany - thus terminating the U.S. era in Augsburg.
Murals of emblems in the entrance area of Bldg 1801, Field Station Gablingen. On the left the official emblem of the Military Police Corps, on the right a self-designed unofficial emblem of the 66th MI Brigade Military Police Platoon.
As a historical supplement of the theme, it should be mentioned that from 1945 until 1958, the War Criminal Prison No. 1 at Landsberg was guarded by the Military Police and administrated by the USMCA Augsburg. Also there was the 7727th EUCOM Retraining Center with 1,000 spaces (in 1952: 1,991 interns), administered by the 7727th Army Unit MP. Due to space restraints, the facility was relocated to Crailsheim in 1954.
- Schwäbische Landeszeitung / Augsburger Allgemeine
- Süddeutsche Zeitung
- 62nd Highway Patrol
- American Military Police in Europe 1945-1991 (R. Gunnarson)
- Private notes, contemporary witnesses and personal interviews
- AiA Archives
Our special thanks for the photo publishing permission to: Larry Linville, 62nd Highway Patrol History, Thomas Werthefrongel, and the Facebook friends of Amerika in Augsburg e. V.