Monday, July 10, 2017

Visiting Point Alpha East-West Border Memorial in Fulda

In October 1976, the 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, left Fort Carson, Colorado, for Wiesbaden, West Germany. Within 48 hours of landing in Wiesbaden, the 4,000 soldiers of Brigade 76 had covered the nearly 100 miles from Wiesbaden to Fulda on the East-West Border. We road marched along the fence in one of the many shows of force that happened along the East-West divide.

I visited the Point Alpha Memorial on the former border at Fulda with one of my roommates from my Cold War assignment to Wiesbaden. Cliff Almes, now Bruder Timotheus, a Canaan Franciscan in Darmstadt, Germany, since his discharge in 1979. A guest at Canaan, Dmitri, also joined us. He was not a soldier, but his life was more strongly shaped by the Cold War than Cliff or me.
Cliff and Dmitri in front of the fabled fence.

Some of the fence and towers are preserved, but the effect is so different as a visitor surrounded by bored high school kids than when I was looking across the border at Soviet tanks from the turret of my own M60A1 tank.
An M60A3 Patton tank on display at Point Alpha. 
Most of my time in armor I was in an M60A1. 

As Cliff and Dmitri and I walked along the border, I told them about how tanks hide, and how many ways tanks are vulnerable on rolling terrain with ditches and sharp hills.

The Memorial itself has many artifacts of the Cold War border.

Posters, weapons, and pictures of protests in Communist controlled countries across Easter Europe during the Soviet era.

Before I visited Point Alpha, I visited several countries behind the Iron Curtain. Walking the hills near the former border and the halls of the museum area, it was hard to imagine how real the struggle between east and west seemed in the 70s and how different the world is now.

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