Life on Post
The 1950 - 1970s represented a period of continuous change as US forces across Europe consolidated their positions and rationalised facilities. This culminated in the command of US Army Schools being relocated in Oberammergau in 1960, remaining there until 1974.
To accommodate the expanding education and training role of the Barracks, in 1950s and early 1960s a number of new facilites were constructed:
- Billeting. Staff lived in the Government housing to the north of the Kaserne (built in c 1953) and personnel on courses were accommodated on post, although Flag and General Officers stayed in the Armed Forces Recreation Center lodges in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, whilst women soldiers and civilians were put up in local guest houses.
- Headquarters. Building 601 - now the BWVS Headquarters - contained the HQ Company for USASCE, as well as shops, Post Exchange, tailor shop, US & German post offices and barber.
- Recreation. Buildings 615-617, known collectively as the 'Hilltop Lodge' contained recreation facilities, including a snack bar, games room, photo lab, craft shops, a theatre (in what is now Manfred Werner Hall), a bowling alley and a rod & gun club.
- Support. Building 604 was the HQ Supply Company and also contained the basement armoury; in the early 1950s it had been accommodation for Military Police students. Building 622 - the former blacksmith and saddlery shop - was the 'ammo store'. Meals were taken in the various snack bars, in the Enlisted Mess (Building 602 - now the BWVS Mess) or the Officers' Mess (now the NSO Community Centre & Lodge), as appropriate. Building 635, at the top of the hill (now used as offices for academic staff) was 'Enlisted Men's Quarters' and buildings 603 (now dormitories for the BWVS) were 'Bachelor Officers' Quarters', as was building 629.
In spite of the relaxed life at Oberammergau, the threat of conventional or nuclear war was ever-present. There were particular concerns that Warsaw Pack forces would surge through neutral Austria and penetrate Bavaria, thus Oberammergau would be vulnerable.
During TTW (transition to war) with the Soviet Union, families would be moved west, to be repatriated to the US, whilst service personnel would take up war appointments with fielded forces and headquarters.
Students on courses would 'make haste' and return to their units; accordingly, many students would routinely travel to Oberammergau with their service weapons in case of such an eventuality.
Another visitor to Oberammergau was General Dwight D Eisenhower (1890-1969). After a period as the Military Governor of the US Zone of Occupation in Germany, he became Supreme Allied Commander Forces Europe in 1950. He was elected as the 34th US President in 1952 and re-elected in 1956. He came to Oberammergau to paint, draw and hunt - occasionally using the Forsthaus guest house (originally a staging post used by King Ludwig II) in nearby Unternogg.
Increased NATO Training Role
NATO Weapons Systems Department. In 1966, the Special Weapons Branch became the NATO Weapons Systems Department (NWSD) and was placed under the operational control of the SACEUR. The curriculum was expanded and additional courses were introduced.
In 1972, the NWSD became the NATO Weapons Systems School (NWSS) and remained under the operational control of SACEUR, but was designated as a separate, joint-service, multinational United States European Command (USEUCOM) activity.