A farewell exhibition

Gertrud glossner-moschk

bamberg without americans? Several generations of burgers can not (yet) imagine this. And yet it will happen. On 12. September after almost 70 years the american soldiers leave bamberg and the u.S. Army closes its garrison.
No sooner are the gis gone than they are a case for rough exhibition: from the 5. Until 27. September, the people of bamberg were allowed to reminisce – and get a little sentimental in the process. The karstadt department store shows 314 photographs from old and new times and a rough number of "souvenirs" on all five floors to the americans. The title is: "american forces in bamberg – photographs from seven decades".

Exhibits from seven decades

There are five proven connoisseurs of the u.S. Garrison who contribute photos and exhibits and who have come together for this joint project: the FT photographers ronald rinklef and harald rieger, the deputy press officer of the bamberg u.S. Garrison, simon hupfer, as well as the long-time u.S. Employee and passionate collector manuela B. Harris and helmut weis. They present items from almost 70 years of U.S. Garrison, including real curiosities that they have saved from oblivion.
Journalist and photographer harald rieger, who has been a freelance contributor to the FT’s local editorial team for many years, has visited the bamberger u.S. Barracks countless times in the recent past and has illuminated and documented all aspects of life and work there, including the return of u.S. Soldiers from the iraq war and reunions with their families, military parades, sporting events, the beauty of the landscape around engineer lake, and much more. It is also documented how the americans once presented a tank as "nikolaus" to the americans dressed up and another time, it was 1982, helped the people of bamberg to clear the snow-covered streets of snow and ice.
In its early days, a highly acclaimed series by rieger entitled "life in the barracks" was been overwritten. In his reportages from the military and above all civilian life of the americans a fulle of pictorial material "jumped out". On the occasion of the departure, he will now present it to the public.
Rieger would also not be averse to making his photos available to a permanent garrison museum, which is currently being discussed in the city – but for which the "small change" is still lacking at the moment missing. The same willingness to keep the memory of the history of the americans in bamberg alive with photos, documents and exhibits – preferably permanently in a museum – is brought by ronald rinklef, manuela B. Harris, helmut weis and simon hupfer with.
But a museum is still a dream of the future. Still it heibt first of all to be content with a department store. And it’s really not the worst exhibition venue: to get the daily visitor frequency of several thousand people that the karstadt-haus in bamberg has to cope with, a museum would have to be open for weeks, if not months.

The right place

The exhibition space in the heart of the city was found quickly, by the way: karstadt manager alfons distler was immediately enthusiastic about the idea, and he will provide sufficient space for the photographers and military historians on all five floors of his department store at the grun market. But there is another historically sound reason for distler’s prompt approval: the department store building (formerly hertie) was used as a military facility in the broadest sense during and after the second world war and until its reopening in 1951. It was a prison and supply depot during the war, then a shopping center for the american occupation forces until 1949. So there is a direct relation to the US army.
The visitor should "stumble" over the photos and shows. He will meet them everywhere, including in the restaurant. "Let people talk about it", rieger and rinklef are hoping, and they promise, that "unusual things will be shown that you can never see otherwise and will never see again".
Not to give too much away, but to give two examples: among the exhibits, the uniforms of the first commander – the legendary nathan preston, unforgettable for old bambergers – and those of the last commander, michelle l. Bienas, his.