Bad Kreuznach, Germany
Bad Kreuznach [known as "B.K."], once home to roughly 2,300 soldiers and the 1st Armored Division headquarters, has effectively shut down. The division and many of its soldiers now reside in Wiesbaden, a community in the midst of a $50 million-plus overhaul.
Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen announced Feb. 15, 2000 that the Department of Defense would end operations at two overseas locations as the 25th round of base closures. Headquarters US Army Europe ceased operations in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, and returned six facilities to host nation control. They are the Bad Kreuznach Family Housing Area, the Army Air Field, the Hospital Kaserne, the George C. Marshall Kaserne, the Moersfeld Storage Point and Rose Barracks.
While the decision to close Bad Kreuznach was announced in February 2000, the idea has been "kicked around for about four years. All of the studies pointed to the closure of Bad Kreuznach. The only question was what would be the final disposition of the units.
US Army Europe ceased operation in Bad Kreuznach and moved the 1st Armored Division to Wiesbaden by December 2001. In the summer of 2000, the 12th Aviation Brigade, 5-158 Aviation Battalion and the 3-58 Aviation Battalion (ATC) relocated to Giebelstadt Army Airfield. Also in the summer of 2000, the V Corps Artillery relocated to Heidelberg, the 212th MASH and 254 Combat Stress Detachment relocated to the Miesau Army Depot and the 527th MP Company relocated to Giessen. For the summer of 2001, the 1st AD Headquarters, DISCOM, and 141 Signal Battalion relocated to Wiesbaden Army Air Field. The 1st AD DIVENG moved to Giessen and the 102nd Signal moved to Hanau. During the summer of 2001 the 1st Armored Division headquarters relocated to Wiesbaden Army Airfield [WAAF] and by the end of the year, the 410th Base Support Battalion closed up shop in Bad Kreuznach, returning the American military installations to German control.
Prior to closure, the population assigned-served was: Active Duty Officer/Enlisted (BK/DX): Combined-approx 2650 Family Members: 2312 Civilian Employees: 354.
Bad Kreuznach, located in the Nahe Valley, 12 miles from the junction of the Nahe and the Rhine, is a beautiful old city with a population of 40,000. The city dates back to Roman times. It is famous as a health resort and wine-producing area and is rapidly becoming an important industrial city. It is 7 minutes from the Mainz/Wiesbaden autobahn and 1 hour from Frankfurt.
Bad Kreuznach is centrally located between many Army and Air Force bases; Mainz, Weisbaden, and Frankfurt are just a short drive north of Bad Kreuznach and Kaiserslautern and Ramstein are about an hour south. Bad Kreuznach is centrally located within Germany, 50 minutes southwest of Frankfurt and about 35 minutes southwest of Wiesbaden and Mainz. The community is medium sized and offers a wide variety of activities to meet the needs of the military community. Bad Kreuznach is surrounded by vineyards and was built around the beautiful Nahe River valley. The city of Bad Kreuznach is located on the Nahe River at the foot of Kauzenburg Hill. For over a hundred years, the city has had a widespread reputation as a health spa. The natural springs are said to have great healing power due to high contents of salt and radium.
Around Bad Kreuznach there are swimming pools, riding stables, and many parks and places of historical interest. The cities of Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Frankfurt offer good opera seasons, orchestra series, and visiting artists. In the Bad Kreuznach area, the U.S. Army maintained education centers, which offer language courses and advanced studies. Several universities offer graduate programs in Wiesbaden and the surrounding areas.
Bad Kreuznach is the home of the Schneider Optic Factory, whose cinematographic, photo, and projection lenses are world famous. This factory is over 100 years old, and along with another long time resident, the Seitz Machine and Filter Works, and the Michelin Tire Factory, forms the backbone of the city's industry. The other major industry of the region is the world renown wine production of Nahe Valley.
Since its earliest recorded history, Bad Kreuznach has had a legacy of military influence that has shaped its character to present day. Bad Kreuznach was a Celtic settlement under the name of Crucinacum. There is evidence, however, of settlements as far back as the stone age, 4,000 years ago.
In 50 B.C. the first Roman Legionaries came to build a fortress near Lammerbrucke. During the 400 years of occupation, the Romans gave the local people their monetary system, laws, progress in agriculture, administration, trade and business. The Romans latinized Kreuznach's Celtic name of Crucina to Crucinacum and colonized the region. They introduced many arts and crafts, established manufacturing plants, demonstrated new methods of horticulture and farming, and most importantly, they brought the vine. The Roman troops withdrew from this area near the end of the 4th century A.D. and returned to protect their Italian homeland. As one result of the Roman influence, wine has become a major business along the Nahe River.
The Germanic tribes were next to occupy the area, followed by the Franks who reigned over the Nahe region and made it part of the Frankish Empire. Their realm ultimately encompassed much of what is now France, Switzerland, western Germany and northern Italy. Under East Frankish rule, central government gave way to local feudal control. By the year 900, the feudal era, although just beginning, had taken its toll on the existing town.
After the Roman occupation, the fortress became a Franconian Royal Palace, and was given, along with the city of Kreuznach, to the Bishop of Speyer. The Count von Sponheim then built a castle on Kauzenburg, along the river, to care for the needs of his nobles. This formed the medieval Neustadt. The inhabitants of the old Kreuznach began building in this direction for protection purposes.
The village of Crucinacum, located on the right bank of the Nahe River in the vicinity of the present-day Bahnhof (train station), was nearly wiped out as a result of a devastating fire in 1183. Meanwhile, a flourishing settlement grew along the opposite bank of the Nahe River under the patronage of the Sponheims. The Counts of Sponheim are regarded as the founders of the "new" Kreuznach, which consisted of today's Altstadt (old city) and Neustadt (new city).
In 1241, the two towns were united by a bridge over the river, and walls were constructed around the town. The terms Altstadt and Neustadt (Old and New City), were then used only to identify the parts of the town of Kreuznach. Between 1291 and 1301, the wooden bridge was replaced by a stone bridge -a remarkable structure, spanning the river on eight piers. At the end of the 15th century, the "Bridge Houses," or Brückenhäuser, were built on this bridge.
During this time, the Sponheims also began constructing a fortified castle on top of the hill overlooking the town. It was given the name "Kauzenberg" in the late 15th century. Kreuznach remained the seat of the Sponheim dynasty until 1437, when the family died out. Following the Sponheim era, Kreuznach changed hands many times.
The mounting tensions between the Protestants and the Catholics resulted in the Thirty Years' War (1618 to 1648). Germany became the focal battleground for religious and political forces from all over Europe. The Kreuznach area was entangled in the fighting. During the period of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), Kreuznach was alternately French, Swedish, Spanish, and German. The castle was stormed twice during the Thirty Years' War, and weathered attacks by Spanish, Swedish and Imperial troops with little damage.
While the town was struggling to overcome the ravages of war, a plague struck in 1666, claiming the lives of 1,400 Kreuznachers. Immediately thereafter, this area, referred to as the Palatinate, fell victim to the dynastic ambitions of King Louis XIV of France. Between 1667 and 1697, the region's landscape was devastated in three wars of conquest. In 1689 the troops of France's King Louis XIV blasted and burned it to ashes during the War of Conquest. The town was almost completely destroyed during this time, and the population was decreased by one-third due to hunger, poverty, fires and plundering. By the turn of the 17th century, Kreuznach was left in total ruin. Its buildings, fortified walls, towers and churches were destroyed. The castle was never rebuilt. Instead, a modern hotel and restaurant were erected in its place.
During the French Revolution (1789 to 1799) and the ensuing wars of Napoleon, the Palatinate again succumbed to French control. A French municipal government was set up in Kreuznach after 1795.
With the defeat of Napoleon at Leipzig and Waterloo, the Rheinland-Palatinate, and with it the town of Kreuznach, came under the control of the rising German superstate of Brandenburg-Prussia. With the Treaty of Vienna in 1815, Kreuznach became a part of Prussia.
In 1817, the mineral baths were discovered, and new life was given to the city. The area became a resort for the wealthy of Europe, due to the healing qualities of the natural baths. The name of the city was changed to Bad Kreuznach in order to take advantage of the natural baths in the area. During the nineteenth century, Bad Kreuznach was the playground to the royal families of Europe. Before the outbreak of World War I, a local pharmacist discovered that the briny waters of the springs contained radium. The success of these medical investigations became the foundation of the town's development as a spa and health resort.
During both World Wars, Bad Kreuznach was major headquarters for the German High Command. As such, many of the leading generals of the German Army were in residence in many of the resort areas, including the Kurhaus, or health resort hotel.
With the outbreak of the First World War, the recently constructed Kurhaus became the command center for the German Supreme Headquarters of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1917 and 1918. After Germany's defeat in 1918, General Marquin, commanding general of the 10th French Army, and his staff set up headquarters in the Kurhaus. French troops occupied Bad Kreuznach and the rest of the Rheinland until 1930. They built the town's first barracks, the Des Gouttes Kaserne, later renamed John W. Minick Kaserne under American administration.
Bad Kreuznach was badly damaged by a number of air raids during the last months of World War II. In March 1945, elements of Gen. George Patton's Third Army took Bad Kreuznach. The American units, however, were replaced by French occupation troops in June and July of that year.
Following the second World War, first French, and then American forces have been continually based in the city. After World War II, the resort facilities were returned to civilian use and the town won back its position as a health resort of international acclaim.
In 1945, the political division of occupied Germany into four zones made the town of Bad Kreuznach part of the newly formed state of Rheinland-Pfalz, then part of the French zone of occupation. In 1951, after political boundaries between the three western zones had been eliminated, and a new self-governing German Federal Republic had been created, the US Army returned to Bad Kreuznach. The US 2nd Armored Division took over what was once Hindenburg Kaserne, and renamed it Maurice Rose Kaserne in honor of Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, a hero of World War II. In 1957, the 2nd AD was replaced by the 8th Infantry Division. On Jan. 17, 1992, the 8th ID cased its colors and was redesignated as the 1st Armored Division.