|Visiting Baumholder: The Basics|
|Baumholder makes an interesting day trip only 25 minutes from Ramstein. Take Autobahn 62 north, direction Trier, to the Freisen exit (# 5). Follow signs to Baumholder, about 6 miles from the autobahn exit. The size of the US garrison with six major housing areas is immediately visible as you come into town, with military-style buildings spread on both sides of the valley.
The First Armored Division Museum is unfortunately closed now. The uncertain future of the Baumholder post precipitated this event, which means there are now no official Army historical museums in Europe.
The Altstadt (Old Town) of Baumholder is best toured on foot starting at the Rathaus. Follow the above instructions to the 2nd light at the intersection of Aulenbacher Strasse and Kennedy Allee (just before the post gate). Turn right onto Kennedy Allee and continue slowly through town just past Korngasse (roughly the 4rd intersection). A sign for a Parkplatz behind the Rathaus is on the right. See the Walking Tour of Old Baumholder for details.
The town lake, or Stadtweihe where German weapons and ammunition were discarded, is about 100 meters right from the first intersection coming into town (on Ringstrasse). A community sport complex built in conjunction with US Army troops in the 1960’s is on the other side of the lake. Turn left at the first intersection, Am Weiherdamm, for parking, or walk down from the Rathaus on the walking tour. A shady picnic area and snack bar flank the popular swimming area.
The site of Erzweiler and its war monument is five miles east of Baumholder on L169 toward Lauterecken and Niederalben. Follow Ringstrasse past the Stadtweihe to the east edge of town where the highway abruptly turns off right. The highway winds through the past and present German military training area five miles to the “Leitzenberg” Biwakplatz.
The small chapel built in 1957 (before total eradication of the village in 1974) is across the road. A few grave markers remain beside the chapel, one from 1884. Soldiers from twelve villages who “fell for their home and their Fatherland” in both wars are memorialized about 50 meters down the road. Frau Heintz’s childhood home stood in the open area between the war memorial and the chapel, and the schoolyard was just past the memorial behind the wall. The rest of Erzweiler is marked only by a few grassed-over mounds and chunks of cement in the forest.
Special thanks to Herr Herbert and Frau Ruth Grimm of Baumholder, and Herr Herbert and Frau Gerda Heintz of Schoenenberg/Kubelberg for sharing their experiences and knowledge.
|"Greetings from the Troop Training Area, Baumholder", 1930's postcard