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.

Oberursel Rosengaertchen and Camp King in the 1970s

The photo shows the early days of the new housing area ‘Im Rosengärtchen’, completed by 1972, and built in the marshes and fields right next to the U.S. Military Camp King Oberursel.

Since then, the newly planted trees have reached heights past our fourth floor. Also, at the first right turn into the Rosengärtchen, a U-Bahn platform was added on in 1997. Before that, we had the choice of getting off at at the station ‘Kupferhammer’ or ‘An der Waldlust’.

On the bottom right, two of the former U.S. housing buildings can be seen. The building closest to the edge was taken down, when the new German housing area was built. The other original building is still standing and has been rented out to locals.

Some of the playgrounds around the Rosengärtchen look rather abandoned these days. When we first arrived in 1995, we usually found a few moms and kids there. Today’s children are in daycare, and more mothers are returning to work earlier.

Im Rosengärtchen in Oberursel, ca. 1972

Im Rosengärtchen and Camp King Oberursel, 1972 Photo by C.Kreuzer

Thanks to Carsten Kreuzer, who found this photo in his father’s files. His father was the Bauleiter (site manager) of the Rosengärtchen development at that time.

12 Things You Should Look Out For With U.K. Student Housing Contracts

There was a time when I actually thought life would get a bit quieter once our son is enrolled at university. Should have known better as we know, when situations change, so do the demands.

During his first year at the University of Nottingham, he has room and board. For the second year (starting September 2013), he has to find his own private housing arrangement.

Sure enough, 10 days ago, I got a phone call, asking to send money for a down payment and retainer as he and his friends were going to look at a house for rent. When I asked him what a retainer was, he was not sure either. But in order to secure a reservation, he had to have the money for it.

Of course, he was told to pay by cheque the same day, which is very unlikely going from a German bank to a British institution. I made a direct deposit into his postal account instead and we has able to make a cash payment.

Our son then sent us the guarantor form and rental contract. After looking both forms over, I decided to send them to a friend who is an expert in the field of renting/letting in the U.K.

He pointed out the following things to watch out for when renting student housing:

1. Make sure your prospective landlord offers you a Unipol standard contract. The best landlords in Nottingham are Unipol registered, which is designed to protect the student from rogue landlord demands.

2. The amount of 250 pounds for a down payment is normal. Make sure you receive e-mail confirmation from the Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) within 14 days of paying the deposit to the landlord. If not, the landlord is forced to refund the money to you.

3. The charge of a retainer (my friend has no idea what this is…) is neither required, nor acceptable under Unipol contracts. If they want to charge you for a retainer, find out what it is, why it is required, and when it is returned. Get this in writing.

4. This is a joint agreement, i.e. each person can be accountable for the WHOLE rent if someone pulls out. Student tenants each agree to be jointly accountable for all the rent. Harsh, but normal.

5. Make sure the amount of utilities (gas/electric/water) are included in the contract. Watch out for the costs on a weekly basis to avoid shocks. As a guideline, one person’s electric bill share should be about 5 pounds and gas should run about 6-8 pounds a week.

6. Make sure all defects are noted and agreed at the beginning of the contract, i.e. before you move in. If not, take photos, note the defects on a check-in sheet (make one yourself) and have the landlord sign it. This is for your protection.

7. Insist on a minimum of 24-hour notice for access, i.e. when the landlord wants to show the house to prospective tenants.

8. Reputable landlords do NOT advertise until 21 January, the official start of Nottingham house hunting. If advertised earlier, then watch out.

9. Watch out for the interest fee charged for late rental payments. Ours said 8% if the rental fee is 14 days late. Again, this kind of interest fee is not allowed under Unipol and is a clear warning sign of a tough landlord.

10. Make sure to get the completion date noted if your housing rental is still under construction. Clarify this before you sign. Living in an unfinished house, with construction workers in and out, while paying full rent, is not right.

11. Quoted from our contract:

“PROVIDED that if the rent or any instalment or part thereof shall be in arrears for at least 14 days after the same shall have become due (whether legally demanded or not) or if there shall be a breach of any of the agreements by the Tenants, the Landlord may re-enter the Property (subject to any statutory restrictions on his power so to do) and immediately thereupon the tenancy shall absolute determine without prejudice to the other rights and remedies of the Landlord.”

This is illegal. There is a legal procedure to reclaim a property, but this clause is not permitted.

12. If you decide to rent with a landlord who isn’t registered with Unipol, then insure the following:

– Ask to see the House of Multiple Occupation licence (HMO), which will demonstrate that safety standards or some kind are met. If the landlord is not in possession of such HMO licence, the landlord can only legally rent to two people in the house and risk big fines if the tenants report him.

– Ask to see the Gas Safety Certificate. This is critical and needs to be valid at all times of the tenancy.

– Ask for a CO2 monitor. The cost is about 20 pounds and will detect CO2 if released.

– Ask to see the Fire Certificate/Working alarm system. There MUST be a working fire alarm system in the house.

 

Last, but not least, take your time and look at various buildings with your friends. In regards to Nottingham, there are 4000 more bed than students, so there is no need to rush. The university told you to take your time, and so do I.

War Stories and Camp King Oberursel

Several years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to one of her British friends, Nicola, in front of the EDEKA supermarket, located on the former Camp King areal in Oberursel. Imagine my surprise when she stated she knew me from reading my blog.

The photo below shows Camp King before most of the reconstruction began. Notice, there is no shopping center yet and much of the townhouse building still had to take place.

Of the five military housing buildings, there are only two remaining – the two most outer ones. The three buildings in the center all had to go.

Anyway, Nicola used to live in the new Camp King residential area until last year and then went off to the U.S.A.

Camp King, with its rich history, is often talked about. A while back, Nicola sent me this BBC link, which her sister discovered while doing genealogy.

Her sister found out that her grandfather’s cousin, Squadron Leader H.D.H. (Douglas) Cooper, had been taken to Oberursel as a POW. This is not only the same town Nicola had just left, but her home used to be on the very same ground, Camp King, where her D. Cooper once had been interrogated.

Quoting:… From Hamburg, Cooper was taken to a reception centre for prisoners of war at Dulag Luft in Oberusel. He was soon moved on …

See full article on BBC.co.uk.WW2peopleswarstories.

I was reminded of this comprehensive website again, because our local Camp King historian, Mr. Kopp, and I had a brief meeting earlier today.

Another book, by an American author, is in the making and a couple of chapters will include the early years of American occupation at Camp King. More about this later.

 

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