The Old Ironsides Museum: Americas Tank Division
The 1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Museum in Baumholder has something for everyone, regardless of age or military affiliation. The displays have been vastly upgraded over the last few years and deserve a visit to appreciate the fine dioramas, vehicle displays, uniforms, and armoured and artillery pieces. The history of the “Old Ironsides” Division is traced from its inception in 1940 all the way up to its return from Iraq in summer 2004.

Several items stand out in even a brief tour through the displays. The mixed tanker uniforms, boots, and equipment from the early 1940’s testify to America’s lack of preparedness for WWII, and the effect of the German Blitzkrieg on preparing the tank troops for war. The evolution of the tanker helmets from a modified football helmet to specialized headgear with a throat microphone is amazing.  A particularly well-done section documents extensive pre-war training in the USA with old photographs, maps, and documents. The photos show men blissfully unaware of what awaited them in Europe.

The museum collection of propaganda is outstanding, with several examples not seen elsewhere. A German leaflet targeting British troops shows a provocative drawing of a bare-breasted women entertaining her American boyfriend in the bedroom, declaring “You Americans are SO different!”   Another German-produced “Safety First” leaflet mathematically calculates the life span of US soldiers who surrender and become POWs, versus the “Average GI Joe in combat”.  The Germans played on every soldier’s fear in a particularly chilling leaflet: “Gentlemen prefer blondes, but blondes prefer strong and healthy men, not cripples.”

The outside displays range from WWII German and US tanks, vehicles, and artillery up to Iraqi tanks captured in Desert Storm.  There’s a German half-track tank destroyer and scout car plus several US and Iraqi tanks. Descriptive signs are posted by each display and museum staff members are happy to answer questions. Group tours and orientation trips are available through pre-arrangement with the museum staff.
Directions:  The First Armored Division Museum is located on Smith Barracks. To get to the post, turn left on Schubertstrasse at the first light as you come down the hill into Baumholder. Continue on the priority road, Aulenbacher Strasse, to the next light. The post gate is visible almost straight ahead.  Once on post, watch for a left turn marked “museum” just after the street makes a curve to the right. If you miss this turn, go all the way on Prussman Ave. to the five-way intersection at the lightpole and turn left on Chicago Ave (9 o’clock position). Make an immediate left in about 50 yards on Ave D into a parking lot, and the museum is on your left. Please note military identification is necessary to enter post, but arrangements can be made for non-military visitors by calling 06783-66349. The museum hours are Wednesday through Saturday 0900-1800, and Sunday from 1300-1700.  Tours for groups are also available with pre-arrangement.