Tour of Remembrance
Then we drive along our combat route from another day when we would be the
U.S. Division making the deepest penetration. We are now into what once
was East Germany, through Friedrichroda and then Ohrdruf. The former "slave"
labor camp is no more. Nothing there for us to realize where we
are except our memories of the horrors we saw. It is now an army camp.
Those we meet know nothing of that long ago place and probably prefer not to know.
That night in Gotha we have a huge feast. Later the youngsters gather at the
bar and regale each other with "stories".
We go to Zwickau, the last stop on our combat trail, but on the way we see places
we know but do not recognize---50 years has taken its toll. Arnstadt, Bad Berka,
Waltershausen and Rudolstadt pass and we are in the city. Some remember places like Liechtenstein
and Reinsdorf but memories have faded and places change. Zwickau was
not badly damaged, many older buildings remain---some new building is in progress.
As we depart the morning rush hour is on, not like the gridlock in many
of our cities but we see a conglomeration of students, laborers and "white
collar" workers on their way to somewhere.
The Autobahn to Nurnberg shows wear. Some repair is underway but one can see
the years of neglect. We go at once to the huge field where the
Nazi Party held their rallies. The dais where Hitler stood is still there.
The swastika has long since been removed. But, one can feel
the great power Hitler must have felt as he looked down on the cheering thousands listening to
his words. Reality---the field is now a parking lot
for hundreds of vehicles in various states of repair, a mechanical "boneyard".
In Munich our hotel will not be able to hold our entire group so a nearby
restaurant is substituted. It is an upscale place, but noisy, and our
farewell dinner is much different than we had planned. Then
back to our hotels, some to bed, others to stay up since
they have a 4am call in the morning. Most return to the U.S. but
others will stay in Europe for some days.
It is agreed that this was a wonderful trip, a chance to renew old friendships and kindle new ones. We are all the better for the experience. We have done honor to our comrades and, in a sense,
to ourselves. Can one ask for more?
Prepared by: Willis B Scudder
89th Tour planner
Battery C, 563rd Field Artillery Battalion
Castle where the veterans ate lunch