Bomber B17 Delegation visiting Camp King Oberursel, Germany

Eleven relatives of the B17 crew (shot down in August 1944) came to Camp King Oberursel to follow the whereabouts of the five crew members interrogated at Camp King.

Mr. Manfred Kopp, also known as Mister Camp King, welcomed the group and later on, historian Ms. Susanne Meinl (the one in charge of organizing this Germany-wide tour), also joined us.

Here, Mr. Kopp explains Thomas Kilpper’s art work. The artist used the old wooden floor of the former basketball gym to carve events and memories of the U.S. occupation time. This relief art was then poured into cement, and can withstands any kind of weather (our first rainy day in months…).

Visitors chuckled at first, when they realized the former Commander’s House was now an after-school day care center.

This very house, today’s Kinderhaus, was built in 1921 by a Jewish professor from the Frankfurt University. He was one of the first ones to come out to Oberursel to help start classes in farming, which was by then required from university students.

In 1939, this same house did not meet Nazi standards anymore, and had to be changed into a more German look: the half-timbered house.

The visitors enjoyed this presentation given by Mr. Kopp, and they also had many questions.

One question was – is there any knowledge of POW abuse during the interrogation process? The historian, Ms. Meinle, responded with ‘Yes, they turned up the heat in the room’.

Presentation at the Kinderhaus, Camp King Oberursel

I spent 2 1/2 hours with the delegation. By then, they were ready for lunch (catered from somewhere), two more visitors joining the tour had to be picked up from the airport, and the tour would continue.

One of the visitors was a 90-year-old lady, the widow of waist-gunner, Richard C. Huebotter. We all had a little chuckle, when she joked Mr. Kopp was still young at 85 years of age.

My role in this was to lend a helping hand, such as help greet the visitors, serve drinking water, and get everyone’s attention when moving to the next point of interest.

Bomber B17 ‘Hard to Get’ Delegation of Relatives coming to Camp King, Oberursel

A delegation of 11 relatives to the bomber crew B17, shot down near Rheinberg on 26 August 1944, is coming to Oberursel to learn more about this fateful day.

Manfred Kopp, the local historian, and I will welcome the group this coming Friday, 24 August 2018, at one of the Camp King facilities for the afternoon. After that, they will go to Aachen.

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26 August 1944

After being hit, three crew member die on board of the plane, while others try to get away by parachuting. Gunner Michael Vlahos is dead by the time he hits the ground,  gunner Richard Huebotter falls into the Rhine River, and is saved from drowning by a German, and then turned over to the German Forces.

While on the train to Oberursel Dulag (Transit Camp), two of the survivors are able to escape. Charles Evans and Harvey Purkey are caught and turned over, in the name of “self-justice”, to the population in the Hessian part of Groß-Gerau. A mob of 300 townspeople attack them with stones and iron bars. Severely injured, they try to get away, but then are beaten to death by two German soldiers (these two soldiers were hanged for their crime in 1946).

The other three – Huebotter, Dean Allen, and James Carey, are interrogated for a week at Camp King, before being sent off to a prison camp. At the end of the war, they are able to return home to their families in the U.S.A.

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The Institute for Stadtgeschichte is looking for contemporary witnesses at: 0209 169-8551 (isg@gelsenkirchen.de) or historian Ms. Susanne-Meinl@web.de

If you know a contemporary witness, please ask them to get in contact with one of us. Thanks.

The Horse Farm behind Camp King, Oberursel

One of my readers, a former soldier stationed at Camp King from 1970 to 1972 and assigned to USTRANSCOM EUR Headquarters, wanted to know what happened to the horse farm/riding school adjacent to the northern end of Camp King.

The Siedlungshof, a.k.a. the Reichssiedlungshof in former times, was constructed in 1939.

Siedlungslehrhof Oberursel

It is still there, and as a matter of fact, a number of renovations and improvements have taken place over the years, especially when management changed hands in 2010.

On the other hand, Oberursel City plans more housing projects, and a much-discussed one is the one right next to the horse farm, which is the wide open space between the Mountain Lodge and the horse farm’s main buildings.

On 6 July 2018 though, it was decided to keep the new housing area smaller than the original design had called for. Instead of building 36 townhouses, the number was reduced to 23, among other concessions.

The final decision has to be made by the Siedlungsförderverein, the city of Oberursel, as well as the other current tenants of leased land.

You can read more about the current plans here (in German): Ergebnis der Begehung des Siedlungslehrhofs

I started my walk from the Rosengärtchen end, so I first arrived at the northwestern end of the horse farm/riding school.

After that, I had to turn around, since this is a Privatweg (private lane). I cut through the northern end of Camp King, and passed the Mountain Lodge in all its morning glory.

Mountain Lodge Camp King Oberursel

Then I proceeded to the other end of the horse farm.

This is the same private lane, from the other end.

Heading back, I crossed through the park around the Mountain Lodge. The big old trees are still green after this summer’s drought.

… but the grass is dying to tell its story.

The town of Oberursel seems to be imploding at the moment. There are quite a few new housing projects going on.

It is good to take some photos now, because these views of nature could change all too quickly.

Camp King Oberursel in June 2018

On one of my daily strolls going past Camp King, I took a few photos the other day. Summer has come early this year (we had temps near 30°C in April), and with the higher than normal humidity, nature is green and luscious.

The building wall on the left is one of the two remaining buildings. Its original color went from sandy orange to grey about 10 years ago.

The yard used to stretch past the point of my photo taking. I remember joining a BBQ under the trees where you can see the asphalt and the car (part of a small parking lot) now. This part of the yard was taken away when the new housing was built in 2001/2002.

The picnic/playground area seen from a different angle.

This special tree seems to have kissed the earth, and its lowest branches have taken roots and formed a hedge. In the back, you see parts of ‘Im Rosengärtchen’ housing area, which was built in 1972. From these high-rises, you have a grand view over the Feldberg mountain range.

For those of you who knew Camp King Oberursel until 1992, I hope you enjoyed this little reminiscent walk with me.

TRANSCOM at Camp King, Oberursel in the 1970s

Mr. David Strain contacted me via e-mail and offered to share some memories from his time in Oberursel, as well as these newspaper clippings for the Camp King Oberursel archives, of which I am a member. He then gave me permission to publish them here.

This is what David had to say about his time with Transcom in Oberursel, Germany:

I joined the HQ US Transportation Command, Europe (USTRANSCOMEUR) in December of 1970.  I was assigned to the Office of the Comptroller directed by Mr. Howard South.  In our group, there was an interesting mix of military personnel, U.S. civilians (DAC), and local nationals.  The local nationals were not always so “local” as I believe we had more folks from the UK than West Germany.  We traveled a lot throughout Europe as the scope of the TRANSCOM mission was wide.  I was later assigned within the Headquarters to the ACofS (Office) for Security, Plans and Operations.  In this position, I was a part of another team that was essentially military staff.  Our chief was Colonel Whitaker.  While assigned to TRANSCOM my wife and I lived in Friedrichsdorf.  My son was born at the Wiesbaden Air Base Hospital in 1971. I left TRANSCOM and Oberursel upon release from active duty in May 1972.  My assignment to TRANSCOM was a great one for a brand new Second Lieutenant (later First Lieutenant) looking to learn, explore and grow.  My time in Oberursel was quite a ride!

David, thanks for sharing your story with us.

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