Strangers in the Wild Place: Refugees, Americans, and a German Town, 1945-1952

Strangers in the Wild Place: Refugees, Americans, and a German Town, 1945-1952

Strangers in the Wild Place: Refugees, Americans, and a German Town, 1945-1952

Strangers in the Wild Place: Refugees, Americans, and a German Town, 1945-1952

Synopsis

In 1936, the Nazi state created a massive military training site near Wildflecken, a tiny community in rural Bavaria. During the war, this base housed an industrial facility that drew forced laborers from all over conquered Europe. At war's end, the base became Europe's largest Displaced Persons camp, housing thousands of Polish refugees and German civilians fleeing Eastern Europe. As the Cold War intensified, the US Army occupied the base, removed the remaining refugees, and stayed until 1994. Strangers in the Wild Place tells the story of these tumultuous years through the eyes of these very different groups, who were forced to find ways to live together and form a functional society out of the ruins of Hitler's Reich.

Excerpt

This book is an international history of a very small place. Over the course of less than two decades, Wildflecken, a tiny town in northern Bavaria, went through a series of extraordinary and wrenching transformations that mirrored the profound shattering and reformation of political, social, and economic life in mid-twentieth century Germany. An obscure farm town in 1935, Wildflecken became a base community for the rapidly growing German military machine of the late 1930s. In the aftermath of Hitler’s disastrous war, American-occupied Wildflecken became a catchment area for several distinct groups of refugees. Just as the refugee crisis began to ebb in the late 1940s, the nascent Cold War escalated, and the American presence, previously declining, dramatically reversed course. For the next forty years, Wildflecken became an American base town, one of many to dot the region as a guarantor of West German security in the midst of a global conflict.

This is a book about land and the strangers who lived there, in close proximity to each other, during the years after the war. The land was a hilly, forested 18,000-acre tract just north of Wildflecken stretching out between the town and the border between Bavaria and the state of Hesse. Over twenty years, different groups and institutions laid claim to that land and asserted their right to make use of it as they saw fit. Military and civilian officials passed countless maps back and forth. They outlined in vivid and contrasting colors the shifting boundaries of a piece of property shaped and re-shaped by events taking place far beyond the valley of the Sinn River.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.