Darmstadt is the headquarters for the 233d Base Support Battalion (BSB) which includes the communities of Darmstadt, Babenhausen, Griesheim, and Aschaffenburg. The 233d BSB falls under the umbrella of the 26th Area Support Group (ASG) located in Heidelberg, approximately 30 miles south of Darmstadt. The Darmstadt/Babenhausen area is located in the south central area of Germany in the southern portion of the state of Hessen. Frankfurt is approx. 20 miles to the north and Heidelberg approx. 30 miles to the south. All units fall under the major command of USAREUR, United States Army Europe. The USAREUR combat support/combat service support structure consists of a logistics base in Kaiserslautern, a communications and transportation hub around Mannheim, and an intelligence node in Darmstadt.
The Headquarters United States Army, Europe, in conjunction with base closures announced by the Secretary of Defense, decided in 1997 to move the 66th Military Intelligence Group from Augsburg area kasernes to the Darmstadt area.
The history of Darmstadt's kasernes dates back to the early 1900's. The barracks or 'kasernes' in Darmstadt are located in the southwest portion of the city. There are three: Cambrai Fritsch Kaserne (CFK), headquarters for the 233d BSB, Kelley Barracks (KB), Nathan Hale Depot (NHD). There are two brigade headquarters in Darmstadt, housed on Cambrai Fritsch and Kelly Kasernes, the 22d Signal Brigade and the 66th Military Intelligence Group. Outlying kasernes, east of Darmstadt, is Babenhausen (BAB), approx. 21 mi and Aschaffenburg (ABG) approx. 30 mi both sharing the name of the German town they are located in. Ernst Ludwig Kaserne (now closed) was named in honor of Hessen Duke Ernst-Ludwig. The US Army took the area over in 1948.
The US Military Community Activity Darmstadt (USMCA) was formally established in 1974. It encompasses an area of 2245 square kilometers (867 square miles). On 1 October, 1991, the former USMCA Darmstadt became the 233d Base Support Battalion (233d BSB) under the umbrella of the 103d Area Support Group (ASG) headquartered in Frankfurt. On 1 October, 1993, the 103d ASG was deactivated and the 233d BSB was taken under the 104th ASG in Hanau until 30 September, 1998.
The 233d Base Support Battalion (BSB) has a full range of community services. The 233d BSB maintains a population of approx. 9,183 - 3550 soldiers, 4042 family members, 268 retirees, and 774 civilian employees. There are libraries, two elementary schools and one middle school, a travel office, craft and auto shops, banks and credit unions, fitness centers, community centers, outdoor recreation centers, community clubs, childcare facilities, a performing arts center, youth centers, movie theaters, commissaries, food concessions, post exchanges, 4-Seasons, and video rentals just to name a few. What is not available in the immediate area can be found within commuting distance. Rhein Main Air Force Base, 20 min., Heidelberg, 40 min., Hanau, 40 min., and Wiesbaden 30 min. The Darmstadt community boasts several new or recently renovated facilities. These include a youth services annex, a teen center, a consolidated dining facility at Cambrai Fritsch Kaserne, a sports bar at Kelley Barracks, a stripping yard for inexpensive auto parts and new training facilities. The BSB is striving to maintain and renovate all single soldier barracks. Equipping each with floor kitchenettes, home-like furnishings in day rooms, and exercise rooms in each building. Alcohol and visitation restrictions have been lifted. The 233d BSB has all the facilities and programs of most any American hometown.
Darmstadt is located in the south central area of the country in the German State of Hessen - Spa country, the Land of Healing springs. Darmstadt is approx. 25 mi south of Frankfurt and 40 mi north of Heidelberg. Babenhausen and Aschaffenburg are to the east. Darmstadt is situated amidst extensive forests and is the gateway to the Bergstrasse/Odenwald nature park. The Bergstrasse shares some of the mildest climate in the country. Sping arrives earlier here than any place else in the country. Darmstadt is a big city but still one of modest dimensions. It was virtually destroyed during a bombing raid in 1944 but even with reconstruction centering on economic growth, the dreamy charm of the past lingers on. Also called the "forest-bound city" as it sits on the edge of the storied Odenwald or Odin's woods, reaching into the Bergstrasse orchards and vineyards planted by the Romans. Darmstadt's economy primarily prospers on the chemical and engineering industries, as well as fine printing. Babenhausen is a much smaller town and sits in a more rural setting. The style of the Kaserne is unique and more of what you'd expect from and old German Kaserne. Aschaffenburg, unlike Darmstadt and Babenhausen, is in the German state of Bavaria. It too is a relatively large city and has a wonderful castle, the Renaissance Johannisburg Castle, that sits on the Main river. Visitors will appreciate the quaint alleyways and half-timbered houses of the old town and its beautiful parks. Aschaffenburg is the gateway to Spessart, a region of undulating hills, mostly covered by forests, many of them old oak forests, with a number of traditional small towns and villages hidden among them.
Darmstadt dates back to the Middle Ages as a small village situated on one of the Roman highways. In 1013, Henry II presented the Bishop of Wurzburg with this whole region. In the 14th century, the town was transferred to the Counts of Katzenelnbogen, who had their residence along the Middle Rhein, and who made Darmstadt an administrative center. A city by the year 1330 when Louis the Bavarian rewarded the faithful service of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen by conferring on them the freedom of the town. Darmstadt blossomed from the 15th century. In the 18th century the Grand Duchess Karoline patronized writers, and it is fitting that today the city is the headquarters of the German PEN club and the German Academy of Literature. In 1899, the last Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig, founded a picturesque artists' colony. Located in the neighborhood of the Wedding Tower and the Russian Chapel, it is still the center of much intellectual activity.
Darmstadt has always had the distinction of being small in size, yet cosmopolitan in terms of history, and progressive in present policy-making. The friendly international links forged by the Grand Duchy in its day fostered a liberal cultural spirit in this, the capital. Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig founded the famous artists' colony at the beginning of this century; "Mathildenhoehe"; with it's art-nouveau architecture and museums testifies to the age which laid the foundations of a meaningful interchange of commerce and culture. The establishment of "smoke-free" industries following the Second World War saw the arrival of publishers and printers. What is more, Darmstadt is now an international center of software production- "a mecca of Germany's programming elite", as an industry magazine dubbed it. Industry as a whole, by the way, is represented by such renowned names as Merck, Roehm, Schenck, Goebel, Wella, Goldwell, and other high-ranking corporations. Darmstadt therefore reaps the benefits of a favorable commercial infrastructure and a high level of employment.
Darmstadt lies at the heart of the Rhein-Main region, and area of considerable importance in Europe. International institutions such as the ESOC space center and the EUMESAT meteorological stations share their fine reputation with their host city, as do research institutions like the Association of Mathematics and Data Processing. The Darmstadt Institute of Technology and the Darmstadt college of Vocational Training provide impulses for the next generation of scientists.
That's one side of the coin, however, Darmstadt isn't just a working city; it is also a leafy, residential town. The gateway to the Bergstrasse, the Strata Montana of the Romans, and to the fabled Odenwald, Darmstadt enjoys all the advantages that a central location and an excellent transport system bring.
Nowadays, Darmstadt consciously furthers it's long tradition of international links. "Town of Europe" is a title that was conferred upon Darmstadt in 1975. For more than a quarter of a century we have cultivated partnerships with towns in our neighboring countries. For these activities, Darmstadt was awarded the Europe Flag in 1964, and the Europe Price of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in 1975.
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