Saturday 7 September 2013

listening post or king under the mountain

There has been much discussion of late of the special relations that Germany shares with the United States but it is really difficult to envision the historic scope in abstract, encouraging words. Here is a map overlay with the addresses of US military installations in the country, starting with outposts and commands captured immediately following the surrender of Nazi Germany (the superimposition, excavation also reveals a lot about where those former facilities were) and evolving over the course of the intervening decades. All these coordinates were taken from public sources and some are already on the map—thank you very much, but I am sure that more than a few missteps and red herrings have been tossed in to determine who might be angling for this information.

View Outreach in a larger map

A favourite Cold War admission by the Soviets was owning that they knew all about maneuvers and where munitions were hidden by the Americans not through sophisticated spying but by simply monitoring subtle changes in the water—from a safe distance downstream, since soldiers in the field and remote locations were not wont to relieve themselves at the latrine. The sampling was quite telling. Though most sites have been abandoned and returned to the German government since decades, there was quite a concerted and concentrated effort that went on for years, driven by different factors, from the nightmares of battle and hubris, to reconstruction and containment, to ideological brinksmanship and polarisation and on to homesteading and inertia.
From a distance, it looks like it one could hardly turn around in West Germany without encountering an army base, but it is interesting to zoom in and see what occupies (or doesn't) that land now, an exploration of places both famous and obscure, and speculate about what activities might have been going on very near you in years past.