KS Reunion
 

Braunschweiger Zeitung (Helmstedter Nachrichten) 15th June 2009

A friendship carved in stone

Monument in Langeleben recalls the British soldiers who left their traces in the Elm.

By Arne Grohmann

LANGELEBEN. It was only a small spot in the woods on the Elm. Nevertheless the era of the British radio station in Langeleben marks a significant chapter in the history of Königslutter.

“Where occupiers became friends” is the title of an exhibition in the Königslutter Town Hall foyer, which can still be viewed this morning. For that, which developed between the British soldiers stationed in the Elm and the people of Königslutter, there now stands a commemorative stone on the carp park in Langeleben.

Paul Ellis, whose father was a soldier in Langeleben, carved the memorial from York stone in England. It has the following inscription in English and German: “We came here as youths in an uncertain world; left it older and wiser in peace and friendship and a world full of hope. Friendship and cooperation. In the name of peace.”

On two plaques, again in both languages, stands the following text: “Dedicated as a sign of lasting friendship between the inhabitants of Königslutter am Elm and the British soldiers stationed in Langeleben between 1951 and 1992.” Worked as a relief engraving on the side of the stone is the town’s coat of arms and on the front and rear the flags of Germany and Great Britain.

The speeches were –like the entire ceremony- moving. Indeed, numerous soldiers and civil personnel of the barracks in Langeleben were present, while the reading of the roll of honour took up no small amount of time. The many guests also learned that a minute’s silence – as opposed to the short intimation usual in Germany – in Great Britain lasts a minute.

After the ceremony the soldiers fell out to do just what Bürgermeister Ottomar Lippelt in his speech euphemistically described as “enriching the local breweries”. As is old times the British took part in the social life of Königslutter and attended the Schützenfest.

FACTS

From 1951 to 1992 British soldiers were stationed in the Elm.

The main task was the monitoring and decoding of military voice or Morse transmissions of the Soviet and National People’s Armies in East Germany.

In the first years intensive contact with the civil population was discouraged.

The Association is represented in the Internet at www.langeleben.co.uk


Hello Helmstedt! (Comment)

The ceremony in Langeleben to unveil the commemorative stone to recall the British soldiers formerly stationed there was moving. Not much remains of the barracks. Only a few crumbling concrete foundations are still there. Here and there lies some broken glass, probably left-overs from the demolition. Pieces of plastic have survived over the years. Caps, which protected screws from the weather in the Elm – in olive green, of course, - lie near the foundations. The military buildings played an important role in the Cold War. By means of the radio station the British soldiers monitored the activities of the military formations stationed in East Germany.

Over the years occupiers became friends. These came to the unveiling of the memorial. The robust appearance of the British Army with its stamping on command is really impressive. And all that irrespective of the age of the soldiers. The military band, complete with bass-drummer in tiger skin (hopefully not real!) and the highly-polished instruments had style.

Arne Grohmann


Braunschweiger Zeitung (Helmstedter Nachrichten) 13th June 2009

How occupiers became friends

Yesterday the exhibition about the British barracks in Langeleben opened – today the memorial will be unveiled

By Arne Grohmann

KÖNIGSLUTTER. The British are not shy of hard work. They even bring their own stones with them to Germany. One of these has become a memorial, which will be unveiled today at 11 o’clock on the car park in Langeleben.

Yesterday an exhibition about the history of the British barracks in Langeleben opened in the foyer of the Königslutter Town Hall. It can be viewed today, tomorrow and Monday in the mornings.

“Do you remember him?” in German or English was a question which was often to be heard in the Town Hall. Former British soldiers, who had been stationed in Langeleben, civilian labour, friends and relations came to view the exhibition.

The history of the listening post in the Elm is described on boards in English and German. The end came in 1992, after the first Gulf War. A private individual bought the camp, which fell into disrepair. Finally, the District Authority had the buildings demolished. Today there are only a few foundations to be seen in Langeleben. The site is not open to the public.

Paul Ellis carved the stone, which will be unveiled in Langeleben today. It is made of York stone, which is found in England. The stone is tough, the mason told us yesterday, who, together with his father, visited the exhibition in the Königslutter Town Hall. His father had been stationed in Langeleben.

“A small German town – where occupiers became friends” is the title of the exhibition. John Richardson conceived it. Technical equipment, as well as uniforms, can be seen, which the British soldiers in those days used. In the days of the Cold War they had the job of monitoring the radio transmissions of the Warsaw Pact troops stationed in East Germany.

There were special operators trained to receive Morse code, and also analysts who spoke foreign languages.  At its height around 140 men were stationed in Langeleben. After duties they did not stay up in the Elm. Quickly they captured the town of Königslutter and also captured many female hearts on the way.

The British soldiers even played football as the Königslutter third team. Once they won the league. The later World-Cup-winning goalkeeper in 1966, Gordon Banks was part of the team. John Richardson, who speaks very good German, met his wife in Königslutter, and now lives with her in Wolfenbüttel. After his army service in Langeleben he worked for the German Police in Wolfenbüttel.


Helmstedter Sonntag 14th June 2009

Anglo-German friendship

New commemorative stone unveiled

By Nicole Grandt

Königslutter’s Bürgermeister Ottomar Lippelt and  British Major-General (Retd.) Peter Baldwin shook hands like brothers, as they officially unveiled a new commemorative stone on the car park in Langeleben yesterday. Both emphasized, that the stone is dedicated to the lasting friendship between Germans and British.

British soldiers were stationed in the military camp with radio station in Langeleben until 1992, which gradually fell into disrepair and became a victim of vandalism and was finally demolished. The camp bore the name “Anderson Barracks”.

After demolition in 2008 no buildings are left on the site. Only the concrete foundations and roads recall the former camp. No fence surrounds the site, it is freely accessible and nature is reclaiming the former military estate.

Langeleben looks back on a long history with the British soldiers. They first pitched their tents there in 1951. Officially, fraternisation by the occupation forces with the German population was frowned upon, but after a short time girls from Königslutter were meeting soldiers. A few years later the first marriages between German women and British soldiers took place.

The expansion of the camp made it into an important economic factor for Königslutter. After the end of the East-West conflict in 1992 the camp was closed and the soldiers were bade farewell.

Although the soldiers returned to their homeland, neither they nor the people of Königslutter forgot the common years. In 1993 a Veterans’ Club was founded in England, whose members were also present at the car park to witness the unveiling of the stone. The column was led by the “Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band”, a 35-man military band from England.

The erection of the stone was made possible by donations of the Veterans’ Club.



Helmstedter Blitz from Wednesday, 17th June:

A Commemorative Stone has been officially unveiled in Langeleben

Germans and British remember a lasting friendship

LANGELEBEN. “We came as youths in an uncertain world, left it older and wiser in peace and friendship and a world full of hope.” This is the inscription on the commemorative stone, which was officially unveiled last Saturday in Langeleben.

This memorial reminds the old soldiers who were stationed there of the army camp, which closed after the end of the Cold War in 1992. The first soldiers pitched their tents in 1951 in Langeleben. After initial resentment, relations between the soldiers and the civilians developed in a very positive way. The camp also became an economic factor.

The memories of time spent in Langeleben were so enduring, that a veterans’ club, called the “Langeleben Reunion Association”, was formed in 1993. Many of the members of the Association turned up on Saturday to be present at the official ceremony.

Maj.-Gen. (Retd.) Peter Baldwin spoke the words of greeting for the British guests. He emphasised, that it is always difficult to accept foreign soldiers in one’s own country. Nevertheless, positive and friendly relations to the Germans developed rapidly. “This went so far that some soldiers even found their wives in Germany”, remarked Baldwin. The British soon took part in social life as well, for example in sport clubs. And the local breweries also profited from the soldiers’ good custom, added Baldwin with a smile.

The stone was financed by the veterans and was crafted by stone mason Paul Ellis, whose father was a soldier in Langeleben and whose mother came from Königslutter, said Baldwin.

Bürgermeister Ottomar Lippelt thanked Baldwin for the kind words, which expressed very well the friendly coexistence which prevailed between Langeleben Camp and the inhabitants of Königslutter. He further emphasised that the unveiling of the stone is taking place in a very special year, marking the 20th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall. In this connection, it is clear what the British soldiers in Langeleben Camp had achieved in making “a contribution to overcoming the consequences left by the inhuman Nazi regime”, according to Lippelt.

As an example of the partnerships formed in daily life, the Bürgermeister recalled the soldier Gordon Banks, who kept goal for the third team of Viktoria Königslutter. Years later, in 1966 he became a World Cup winner with his national team. Many old Königslutter inhabitants can remember this well.

Friedrich Düerkop from the State Military Reservists’ Organisation came to thank Peter Baldwin for the dedication to the friendship which binds the two peoples. He thanked the British soldiers for more than 40 years’ service in Germany, which guaranteed the freedom of the country.

The musical enhancement was provided by the 35-man-strong “Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band”. The blessing of the stone was also part of the programme. A moving part of the ceremony was the reading of the roll of honour, which took no little time.


 

From the German Federal Reserve Forces’ magazine, August 2009 issue:

Commemorative Stone as a sign of friendship

The British Army’s Langeleben Camp left visible traces.

“We came as youths in an uncertain world, left older and wiser and in peace and friendship and a world full of hope!” Maj.-Gen. (Retd.) Peter Baldwin read this inscription from the commemorative stone and unveiled the small memorial, together with the Mayor of Königslutter am Elm, Ottomar Lippelt.

For over 40 years a Signals unit of the British Rhine Army   was stationed in Langeleben Camp beneath the towering antennas, where up to 120 soldiers were on duty. From 1951 they listened in to the East and carried out radio reconnaissance. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact these operations became superfluous. In 1992 the British Army closed down the listening post. The soldiers were posted elsewhere. However, the reservists and veterans founded a “Langeleben Reunion Association”.  Here, the idea was born to erect a commemorative stone at the former camp in Langeleben near Königslutter. The President was Maj.-Gen. (Retd.) Peter Baldwin. The Königslutter town council and the responsible bodies approved the intentions immediately, as over the 40 years a feeling of mutual trust and friendship had developed between the civil population and the British soldiers. Family ties were no longer a rarity. In this spirit, Stone Mason Paul Ellis created the commemorative stone. His father was a soldier in Langeleben, and his mother came from Königslutter.

In his speech Bürgermeister Lippelt emphasised the good and deferential relations with the British soldiers in daily life. „“It is a good moment in time to remember and thank Great Britain for its efforts in creating a free democratic basic order based on of human rights in Germany”.

The vice-chairman of the Lower Saxony Reserve Forces Association, Reserve-Hauptfeldwebel Friedrich Düerkop praised the contribution of the British Army to the reunification of Germany. On behalf of the Lower Saxony Committee he presented Maj.-Gen. Baldwin with a commemorative plate.

In front of a large assembly of civil representative from Königslutter and district, as well as British reservists and veterans, Chaplain to the Forces Philip Bosher blessed the commemorative stone. A British military band played the national anthems of Germany and Great Britain and provided the musical accompaniment for the ceremony. An impressive Act of Remembrance completed a stylish ceremony in the former camp location in Langeleben near Königslutter.

Picture captions (from top to bottom):

British reservists, veterans and colour party

Speech by the vice-chairman of the Lower Saxony Reserve Forces Association, HptFw d.R. Friedrich Düerkop

Presentation of a commemorative plate to Maj.-Gen. (Retd.) Peter Baldwin (r.)

Blessing the Stone

National anthems and act of Remembrance



Translation of the above newspaper articles - Courtesy John Richardson

Last updated 27 March 2011