Wednesday, December 28, 2005

History and Pictures of U.S. Army Security Agency Field Station Berlin

My Berlin, Berlin, you pearl on the Spree
You are, Berlin, which says you never say adieu
Because your magic can never die
My Berlin, Berlin, Berlin…

My Berlin, Berlin, you pearl on the Spree
You are, Berlin, which says you never say adieu
Because your magic can never die
My Berlin, Berlin, Berlin…

The Second World War is over.

The Cold War is over.

The Nazis are gone....and the Communists too.

The American, British, French and Russian military occupations are history.

Berlin has become the beautiful and free city it always wanted to be...

I spent three years in Berlin with the U.S. Army Security Agency Field Station (1974-77) in the Dark Days when Berlin was a gray city of fear divided by a ugly Wall. It was an honor to have played a small role in saving one of the world's most grand and glorious cities. The Field Station was closed in 1992 and in 1994, the Allied Occupation ended as the last American soldiers marched to the airport and home.

The U.S. Army Field Station Berlin entered the city's history in the turbulent post-war period in 1951. Strictly a mobile tactical-support unit, Detachment F, 6th Field Station was deployed from West Germany to a temporary site in the British sector's sprawling Grunewald forest. Several other ASA mobile units were also deployed into the city during the 1950's.

On July 1, 1957, these units were consolidated administratively into the 260th ASA Detachment. The detachment's headquarters was moved to Andrews Kaserne (Barracks) in the Berlin Lichterfelde district.One of the most historic military sites in Berlin, the post first opened in 1873 by order of Kaiser Wilhelm I as the Prussian Haupt Kadetten Anstalt (HKA) or Prussian Main Cadet Establishment.

The school became the Prussian equivalent of West Point, providing Germany with its senior military leadership for a period covering two world wars. Entry into the academy was extremely difficult as was the subsequent discipline, military training and academics. After graduation, the cadet was given a probationary rank and spent time with a line unit. After subsequent attendance at a "war school", the officer-candidate was elected into the Prussian officer corps by the officers of his regiment. Upon receiving his commission as a lieutenant, the officer swore his loyalty to the Officer Corp, which, as a body, swore their allegiance to the ruling monarch rather than the Prussian state.

In this way, cadets Goering, von Runstedt, Guderian, von Manstein and others because the military elite of the Nazi Wehrmacht. As an aftermath of the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I, the HKA was disbanded in March of 1920. On March 9, 1920, the entire cadet corps marched silently out the front gate and across Berlin through the Brandenburg Gate to the Prussian War Ministry. After presenting their guidons, they received their final dismissal as a cadet corp.From 1922-1933, the post was used to house a public school and a unit of the Berlin Police.

By 1933, after Adolf Hitler assumed power, the Kaserne became the SS Kaserne Lichterfelde. The dreaded Schutzstaffel (SS) used the post as a billet, training and administration area. Among other units, it housed the most infamous SS unit Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler (Living Banner Adolf Hitler). This Battalion sized unit was made up of the finest and most Aryan of the SS elite and served as the personal bodyguard of the fuehrer. The elegant Prussian academy's buildings were modified to glorify the Nazi myth. Statuary and symbols were placed throughout the post. Some, minus Nazi symbols, stand even today.

In March 1945, the remaining Liebstandarte troops in ranks and made a final cross city march to the Reich Chancellory, near the Brandenburg Gate, to prepare for the final siege of Berlin - an ironic and sinister reenactment of the final march of the Prussian Cadet Corps troops twenty five years earlier.By 1946, the Kaserne was under full US Army control and was named in honor Lt. General Frank Maxwell Andrews, Army Air Corp.

This, then, is the historic legacy of the post housing, current Headquarters of Field Station Berlin. By July 1961, the USASA Detachment had undergone several redesignations and was called the 78th USASA Special Operations Unit (78th USASASOU) the mobile equipment was moved to the top of Truemmerberg (Rubble Mountain), this hill, the highest in Berlin, was built mostly by hand from rocks, bricks and debris left of the city. It was started in 1946 by the gaunt survivors of the war - mostly women.

After an operation feasibility study was made a permanent site was built what became known as Teufelsberg or "Devil's Mountain". All ASA assets were relocated to Teufelsburg by 1966, at which time the unit was redesigned the 54th USASA Special Operations Command (54th USASASOC). In 1967, it became the USASA Field Station Berlin. In 1977, the United States Army Security Agency became the Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), and this unit became the United States Army Field Station Berlin.


Anonymous said...

As we used to say, "I Know YOU!" Excellent information on our bit in history. Absolutely loved it. Hope you don't mind, I shared a piece of it and told people if they want to see more, I provided the link.
Bill M
S/S A; S/S K
B Trick

Ronbo said...

If you visit there today, you can check to see if the Stasi (East German Secret Police) had a file on you, as they did on many members of Field Station Berlin.

I understand when Germany was re-united in the early 1990s, all the Stasi records were transferred to Andrew's Barracks and placed in the rooms where Company "B" USASA(of which I was a member) lived in the 1970s.

KG said...

Fascinating stuff. Ronbo.
And a magnificent and charming city, despite the sometimes ugly history.

Ronbo said...

The Berliners were good friends in those Cold War days to the American troops, especially the older people who could remember what the Red Army did to the city in April and May 1945 - raped, pillaged and looted it back to the Dark Ages.

Thus the U.S. Army, the Royal Army and the French military were the cavalry riding to the rescue of Berlin on July 4, 1945, and ended the Russian Reign of Terror in the Western occupation zones.

Unknown said...

I served in Berlin 1976-1977 and was the Field Station Career Counselor, and yes I was a lifer...

My first time at FS Berlin was 1968for training at Site 4, before I went to Vietnam.

We all had a mission ASA all the way 1965-1978.

Bill Graser

Unknown said...

I was stationed in Berlin as an ASA M.P. 1969 -1971, housed at Andrews Barracks. Worked shifts at the "Hill", site 4, and site 1. Visited Berlin and Andrews Barracks in 2014.

Michael Riles said...

I was there from 1977 to 1981. I wrote a novel about that experience. Google Citizen Soldier/Citizen Spy by Michael Riles

Ronbo said...

Video of East Berlin in 1978 - the same time frame that I served in the West Berlin (1974 - 1977) the dialogue is in German, but lots of good scenes of the Russian Sector of the city we at Field Station Berlin never saw due to having security clearances.