Off to Deutschland

A few weeks after our move to Columbia, Maryland, in the fall of 1967, I flew out of Dulles airport on my first trip to Europe.  The purpose of the trip was for me to introduce some of our overseas personnel to a new research tool that I had developed at NSA. My initial stop was at Frankfurt am Main, where I had a quick and unpleasant introduction to the meaning of jet lag.  A day or two later, after visiting several field stations in the Frankfurt area, I moved on to Stuttgart.  From that city, my guide and I travelled by automobile to Nuremberg and Kassel and then back to Frankfurt.  We visited several field stations on our way, I gave many briefings, and we saw much of the German countryside.  Before leaving for home my friend and guide George Wood took me to the Rhine River region, and we had an interesting tour of the old university town of Heidelberg. My memories and impressions of the trip include the following:

o I dined at a few excellent German restaurants during my trip.  Water was almost never served, but wine was everywhere.  Since I didn’t drink wine, I quickly learned to order traubensaft or applesaft (grape juice or apple juice) as a substitute.

o I particularly enjoyed a visit to one restaurant where, after the meal was finished, the clients all raised their glasses and began singing hiking and marching songs.  Many of the tunes, though not the words, were familiar to me.  Everyone appeared to be having a grand time.

o My favorite German dish was wienerschnitzel.  I wish I had a really good recipe.

o The Germans drove the autobahns like madmen.  I don’t believe there was any speed limit.  Accidents were few, but when they occurred they were often horrific.

o I visited the I. G. Farben building in Frankfurt.  The building was being used by our own people in 1967.  While there I thought of I. G. Farben’s many contributions to the German war effort in World War II — particularly their development of Zyklon B, the gas used to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews and other so-called “undesirables” in Nazi concentration camps.

o One of our field sites was located on the site of an old Luftwaffe base.  When we walked into the base dining hall we could see the names of pilots emblazoned on the walls.  It was sobering to reflect on how few of those young men survived the war.  The large double doors to the dining hall were constructed of solid wood and there was ornate carving on the face of each door.  I recall the image of some sort of superman holding a flaming torch — undoubtedly a symbol of German youth leading the way toward a brave new world.  Underneath the somewhat pagan symbol was etched the words “Anno Domini 1937.”  It all seemed rather sad and incongruous.

I returned home to my family in Columbia in late November.  We were living in a large apartment in Bryant Woods as we waited completion of our home in Faulkner Ridge. We moved into the new domicile in early January 1968.

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