• post-war American occupation of Frankfurt

    'It seems from the central station at night that Frankfurt resembles more an American colony than a German city.'

    Herbert Sulzbach was in his home town four years after the end of WW2, and fifteen years since he had last visited. He hardly recognised it, and had difficulty making himself understood.

    'When I asked one of the G.I.s where to find the shopping centre he seemed disconcerted, thought for a moment, then said, “Ahh, Shapping Centre!”'

    It was January 1949 and the Americans had been an occupying force since they had fought their way into the city in March 1945 and commandeered the vast I.G. Farben building as their centre for the Supreme Allied Command. Sulzbach had last been there in 1934 when he had visited Karl and Arthur von Weiberg at their chemical business to discuss dyes for his paper factory.

    He was horrified by the changes in the city's traffic.

    'There are American trucks, German juggernauts, huge luxurious American cars, clapped out German ones, and an almost unbroken succession of jeeps - mainly from the American army and their military police – as well as numerous taxis.'

    Two doors away from his childhood home in prosperous Friedrichstrasse, the Americans had set up a War Crimes Investigation Unit – at the large villa of number 61, once the home of his friends the Riesser family.

    On 31 January 1949 he went to find the street that had been named after his father. This honour in memory of Emil Sulzbach (who had died in 1932) had been swiftly revoked by the Nazis when they came to power but after Herbert Sulzbach had written to the Americans in 1945 the street had been quickly re-designated.

    A week later, he went to 'an Allied cinema'.

    'It was strange when “God save the King” was played at the beginning and we all stood up. All the German girls with their American soldiers stood up too.'

    On that day, Herbert Sulzbach realised that he felt more 'at home' in England than he did in Germany.

    (photo: Herbert Sulzbach in Emil Sulzbach Strasse 31.01.1949)


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On my blog I write about biography, Anglo-German reconciliation, and the life of Herbert Sulzbach.


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