The United States Constabulary
U.S. Army of Occupation
Germany and Austria
1946

Paul Feuer

I enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York at the age of 17 in June 1946. After a brief stay at the Ft. Dix, N.J. replacement depot, I was shipped off by train to Ft. Jackson, S.C. for basic training. The cadre there were battle-hardened veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division and Patton's Third Army and spared us none of the rigors of basic training.

Upon completion of our training, most of us were sent overseas for duty in Korea. However, I was sent to Camp Kilmer, N.J. the port of embarkation for the ETO. After 28 miserable stormy, icy January days in the hold of a World War 1 Liberty ship converted into a troop transport, we landed in Bremerhaven, Germany. There I spent some time in an Army hospital recovering from pneumonia I contracted during that hellish sea crossing.

Upon my recovery I found myself on a troop train headed south to the American occupation zone of Austria -- the Land Upper Austria Area Command (LUAAC), under the command of Brig. Gen. Loyal Haynes.

During the train ride south, I thought I would get to see some of the German countryside, but the railroad sidings were piled two stories high with the remains of bombed-out buildings, wrecked trains and shot-down aircraft. It was as if we were riding in a tunnel all the way through Germany. When we stopped in Frankfurt, I got off in the Bahnhof (train station) which was nothing but a pock-marked concrete platform with twisted girders overhead. I did a 180-degree turn and as far as the eye could see, not a single intact building was standing. So much for Hitler's thousand-year Reich.

An exception to this bleak picture was when we passed the medieval town of Marburg, with its fairytale castle on the top of a hill and old men walking around in lederhosen.

Austria had escaped much of the damage that had been inflicted on Germany, but it was still apparent. I ended up in Linz, Hitler's boyhood home that he intended to make the cultural capital of his Grossdeutschesreich, or greater Germany. It also happened to be my grandfather's boyhood home. The picturesque old town belied its more sinister nature. Hidden underground were the vast Hermann Goering steel works, and above ground were the barracks of the slave laborers who worked and died there. A short distance out of town was the infamous Mauthausen death camp, where untold hundreds of thousands of Jews and other undesirables were cruelly murdered. Linz was also the home of the Bindermichl DP Lager (Displaced Persons Camp), where thousands of unfortunate survivors of the Holocaust were cared for by the Americans until some country could be found to accept them. Some went back to their homes in Poland and Lithuania where they were murdered by their erstwhile neighbors. Most wished desperately to go to the United States (which wasn't taking many) and failing that, to the British mandate of Palestine.

Upon arriving in Linz, I was assigned to barracks at the former Luftwaffe base at Horshching, just outside the town. The barracks were a far cry from the flimsy and cheerless American barracks back in the States. The German barracks were attractive, solidly-built one-story brick buildings with peaked roofs. Soldiers slept in comfortable semi-private rooms. The Germans certainly knew how to treat their soldiers. At the entrance to each building was a circular mural over the front door. It showed heroic Germanic warriors waving what was originally the Nazi swastika flag. However the Americans had painted out the swastika and substituted an American eagle for a very strange effect.

The unit I was assigned to initially was "E" Troop, 24th Constabulary Squadron, 4th Constabulary Regiment. While in "E" troop I performed several functions. One important function was to patrol the border between the American and Soviet occupation zones, which were divided at the Danube River. I must say I enjoyed bridge patrol. There I had an opportunity to try to converse with the Soviet soldiers on the other side of the border. They were fascinated with Mickey Mouse watches and had an insatiable appetite for them. "Meeky Moose! Meeky Moose!" they would exclaim if you brought them one from the PX. They would give you just about anything for one of those watches.

When we got off duty we had to turn our weapons in to the orderly room. Not the Russkies. They kept their automatic weapons with them at all times. On Saturday nights they would get drunk on Vodka and start firing their rifles across the river at nothing in particular. After a while you made sure to stay away from the river on Saturday nights.

For a while, I was stationed in the Linz Polizeiamt, or police station. There I walked a beat with an Austrian policeman. All the police were Wehrmacht veterans, and I used to ask each of them the same question: "Now that Germany has been defeated, what do you think of Hitler?" They all gave the same answer, almost word for word: "You understand, I vas never a Nazi. But, Hitler was good for Germany. He gave us back our pride, he built roads, he created jobs. He vas betrayed by the generals."

After a while walking a beat, I was given a cushy job handing out civilian drivers licenses. I couldn't drive and didn't know the traffic laws, but that didn't matter. They gave me a pile of forms and an official-looking stamp. The only discomfiting part of the job was the bronze Nazi eagle, complete with swastika, that still stood on top of the filing cabinet!

Another job for "E" Troop was to go to Bindermichl every Friday and take a head count so the following week's rations could be apportioned. One Friday I knocked on a door at Bindermichl and found a raggedly-looking family inside. There were a man and his wife, a 15 year-old girl and a 12 year-old boy. I spotted a beaten-up photograph of a man tacked on the wall. He looked familiar. I walked over and looked at it more closely. I was shocked that it seemed to be a photo of my uncle, who was back running his drugstore in Springfield Gardens, N.Y.!

Speaking in my broken Yiddish, I discovered that this family was indeed related to my uncle (by marriage). My family in Europe had been wiped out during the Holocaust and it was a shock to find not only a survivor, but an entire family. In the ensuing weeks I raised some money from my family, bought the relatives clothes and other necessities from the PX, and contacted the local Haganah representatives, who were successful in smuggling them into Palestine under the noses of the British blockade.

After several months of this duty, I was transferred to HQ & HQ Company, 24th Constabulary Squadron. It had come to the attention of the captain that I was an amateur artist. So I became the official unit artist. This involved hand-lettering invitations and place cards for the general's parties, painting the big billboards with the crossed sabre unit insignia that stood at the base gate, drawing a comic strip for the unit newspaper, and painting VD posters. To prepare for this job I had to accompany a doctor to the base hospital and watch him do short-arm inspections of venereal disease patients, both make and female. They liked graphic VD posters.

In March 1948 I was transferred back to the States.

See photos attached. The group picture shows me with the Pinczuk family in the courtyard of the Bindermichl DP Lager. These are my uncle's relatives. In the other standing picture I am in front of my quarters in the barracks at Horsching.

Paul S. Forbes [Feuer]
9321 Millbranch Place
Fairfax, VA 22031-1922

703/385-4417
E-mail:

paulsforbes@verizon.net

                               
                                                                                                                   Pinczuk family                                                                    Paul Feuer
This page has been updated Dec. 11, 2009

Back