A “Trip into the Tunnels of Time” (Miguel Gonzales-Hermosilio)
This was a FANTASTIC “Patrol“! Before beginning this tour however, let’s read what some of our travelers had to say.
Duane Luthe-Rubin (5821-LIFE-1999)and Penny were on both “Patrols“:
“WOW! What a “Patrol“! It was everything you said it would be and more, it was terrific!! My comments briefly for now would be – a high point of my life due to not only walking the same path as great German historical leaders, but also walking with American men of history. You see Harry, ‘the Volk‘ were the real high point for me, just being in the presence of the German veterans was awesome, recognizing the mindset of the German people and the burden they carry(especially the later generations) was an education in German tragedy! I shall never forget the proud but sad expressions at Ulrichsberg. I have always been proud of my great-uncle who served the Kaiser 1914-1918. The Sharkhunters Members we met and are in contact with are of great importance to us – what a wonderful group of people. You have something to be very proud of, Commander!!”
Dr. Renée von Worde (887-1988) has been on previous “Patrols” and she writes:
“I have been reading about the FABULOUS “Patrols” and also the Members’ comments. I know that everyone had the trip of a lifetime. I have fantastic memories of our trip and I think of how much I am looking forward to being able to return. With Sharkhunters, one experiences history and creates memories that last forever. No other tour can even come close!”
Ed Hargrove (2074-1991: “I had a really great time – it was very good as always.”
Larry Kagan (5053-C-1996): “If you can’t make history – live it! Live it by going on a Sharkhunters tour!”
Rich delFavro (1495-LIFE-1990):
“I had a FANTASTIC time! I best liked Ulrichsbergfest, the dinner and friendship with the veterans, our dinner at Landskron Castle with the Police Choir and impromptu trip to Italy. My best memory of the “Patrol” was the Police Choir at Landskron then sitting with Rudy from that Choir on the bus the next day. I had a great time from meeting you in the Munich Airport to the last breakfast goodbye. You did a great job and thanks for having me along.”
We met veterans from great combat divisions (seen here is Eugen from the Hermann Göring Division), had dinner in a castle and visited a World War I museum that is known to be one of the finest in the world.
Andy Byers (6800-2004) had this to say:
“I best liked being admitted to places where the general public would not ordinarily be allowed. My best memory was singing patriotic songs with the veterans and their wives at the Friends of Ulrichsberg; staying at the Hotel zum Türken; standing on the podium at Zeppelnfeld, dinner at Landskron Castle and being at the site of the 1934 Nürnberg Rally. I had high expectations for this trip – I can honestly say that they were all exceeded! I made friends that will be friends forever and really look forward to going again.”
And from Alfred Richert (3744-1994):
“You amaze me as to how you not only find these Third Reich enclaves that are not necessarily open to the German public, but you find a tour guide to explain it all to us. We must keep our time in the Hotel zum Türken. My overall comments – the surprise and excitement that Harry programmed for us was always exhilarating. One could spend thousands of Euros in Bavaria and Austria but never experience the depths of its political and military history that Harry exposed us to.”
Our deluxe “Royal Class” motorcoach took us into München in the morning where we met our guide who took us to the famous buildings in the city including the Party Headquarters of the Third Reich, past the hotel where Hitler had his special room, by the Feldherrnhalle and so many more. (the photos will soon tell this story).
For lunch, we ate at the Hofbräu Hof, famous for …well, you must know its history. We were welcomed by their band and they treated us wonderfully and naturally, everyone had to buy goodies from the gift shop.
This evening, we enjoyed a great dinner in the beautiful four-centuries-old Löewenbräukeller where we were met by our good friend Georg Högel (240-LIFE-1987) and his wife. Georg (photo below) has been a strong Member of Sharkhunters since 1987 and during the war, he was radioman on U-30, the first boat into action. He was later chief radioman on U-110 when the Royal Navy captured that boat and seized all the codebooks – and the Enigma.
|Georg Högel||Georg Högel and “Fast Eddie” Hogan (6979-2005)|
“Fast Eddie” was Skipper of a minesweeper during the war and is a retired Captain, US Navy and at 92 years of age, never slowed down! Here is what he thought of his time with us:
“Thank you for your good care during he trip to Germany – saw places that I had heard about but never thought I would see. The trip to Hitler’s Eagles Nest was a place I thought I would never go. The WW II veterans I met will be something to remember.”
To Nürnberg! We were met by our good friend Michael as we enjoyed a special tour of the museum that he founded – photo below and with Ed Hargrove (2074-1991) at the Maxim gun. After some hours there, we visited his new tower! This was a tower in the fortress city, built in the 1300’s and will be another part of Michael’s great museum.
After lunch, we toured the “Rathaushalle” (photo below) where kings, noblemen, and knights met in ancient days to formulate treaties – and where Adolf Hitler met with the city and state officials on many occasions. This room is NOT open to normal visitors.
|Michael’s “New” Tower||the “Rathaushalle“|
Another visit that was NOT for the usual visitor was our walk into the depths of the city beneath the pavement a few stories deep into the bunker and tunnel system that lies beneath this city.
After all these great experiences, we headed for the “Zum Guldner Stern” restaurant, now a regular dinner place for us in Nürnberg. This restaurant was already some eighty years old – when Christopher Columbus departed for the New World! It is in this restaurant where we have the annual Sharkhunters Sausage Eating Contest. The Sharkhunters record of 42 sausages was set during our 2003 “Patrol” by Steve Riha (2937-1993) and although there were many boasts in this 2005 group that the record would fall, no one was even close to the record of 42 sausages. These sausages are tiny, but they are extremely rich.
Naturally, we were joined by the fine lady (age 90 now) who was present at the 1936 Party Congress, selling what else – Nürnberger Sausages! Hermann Göring gave her a ride from Zeppelinfeld in his car at the end of the day. She is on the right of the photo below.
As every year, our friend Eugen joined us as did several other veterans. Eugen was a Panzergrenadier with the Hermann Göring Division. He and his wife are sitting next to Harry Cooper (1-LIFE-1983) in the left of this photo.
Still in Nürnberg, we picked up Michael with our bus and toured the city where we passed the Deutsche Hof, Hitler’s favorite hotel – now standing empty. We passed the villa of Julius Streicher, owner of a major newspaper in the Third Reich. He was a favorite of the Party until they learned that some of the goods and property seized by the Party was mysteriously funneled into the private hands of Streicher! He fell from favor with the Party but even so, after the war, he was tried in absentia at the “War Crimes Tribunal” and sentenced to death. They could not find him – but one day, an American soldier was watching a local artist paint landscapes in the Bavarian Alps and he told the man that he looked a lot like Julius Streicher. Instead of laughing it off and making a joke of it, the artist began to sweat and loudly protested that he certainly was not Streicher. The soldier was immediately suspicious and had the artist arrested. He was indeed, Julius Streicher and so he was executed.
We drove the bus into the center of the old Party Congresshall building, right past the sign that states “EINGANG VERBOTEN” which we know means “Sharkhunters are Welcome Here!”…..but you already knew that. Check the photo below left.
Michael took us to the World War I “Flieger Monument” (photo above right) which also commemorates the fallen aviators of World War II. The only fact that saved this monument from destruction was that it was built after World War I and prior to World War II.
This “Patrol” was again very special in that we were actually IN the “Gold Room“, the secret room beneath the huge stadium at Zeppelinfeld where Hitler would hold receptions prior to going up the staircase and emerging on the speaker’s platform in front of hundreds of thousands. The ceiling is still inlaid with hundreds of gold swastikas. Naturally, we walked all over the stadium and each had to have his/her photo shot on the speaker’s platform. We also visited the shrine (photo below left) where the “Death Ceremony” or Memorial to the Fallen Soldiers took place.
From there, we walked a short way to the beautiful state-of-the-art (in 1939) train station, now dubbed “Hitler’s Station” (photo above right), where we had a great lunch and fellowship with our friends and hosts.
From the left:
Harry Cooper (1-LIFE-1983)
Ed Hargrove (2074-1991)
Michael Kaiser (6166-2000)
Chris Banda (6733-2003)
Michael made sure that there was no court in session in Room 600 of the “Palace of Justice” and we went inside for our visit. This is the room in which the “Nürnberg Tribunals” otherwise known as the “War Crimes Trials” took place, and we had it all to ourselves.
Later we drove to a beautiful little village some miles outside of town where one of the world’s greatest aviators is laid to rest, and we placed flowers on the grave of Hans-Ulrich Rudel, the “Eagle of the Eastern Front“.
His lifelong motto “No man is beaten until he admits defeat!” has been an inspiration to many.
We had a pleasant drive through the Bavarian Alps into the Austrian Alps where castles were frequently dotting the roadside. After a lunch stop on the Autobahn overlooking the breathtaking scenery of Austria, we continued south to Klagenfurt, the capital of Kärnten. While we were looking at the stone dragon (photo below), the emblem of this city, we spotted a small group of young people holding a protest against the Ulrichsbergfest. They were young Communists and had no idea that this solemn event was to honor all who fell in battle, no matter what uniform they wore. Further, many were barefoot, smoking cigarettes and listening to rap music on their portable radios while half-heartedly handing out their brochures. It was rather apparent that these were idealistic, easily-led kids …you know, hippie “wannabes” too late to make the “Flower Power” generation of the 1960’s and 1970’s so they were here in a sad and pathetic attempt to live in their parent’s generation. Nobody paid much attention to them and they didn’t appear to mind – they were smoking and enjoying the sunshine and music.
After an hour or two buying souvenirs and enjoying the sunny afternoon, we boarded our bus and got checked in at our hotel. It was a 400-year-old Gasthaus in the mountains.
Dinner this evening was in a medieval castle high in the mountains. As we entered the gates of the castle, we were greeted by twelve of the Police Choir who then sang for us all through our dinner. They were fabulous – and they made our President Harry Cooper an honorary member of the Police Choir. Good thing it’s honorary – have you heard Harry sing?
It was a bit past midnight when we tumbled into bed, but with so many memories already in our heads but with the anticipation of even more to come the next few days.
We visited the Kotschak/Mauthen Museum, a splendid museum dedicated to World War I combat that took place in that area high in the Alps. This is acknowledged as one of the world’s premier museums on World War I history.
It was time for lunch and we went to an authentic Austrian Alpine Haus high up in the Alps at the Plöchenpass, site of another fierce World War I battle, where a toasty fireplace pushed back the chill brought on by the high altitude. As we have come to expect, the food was excellent!
We popped into Italy for a short visit to a strange souvenir shop where they sold wine in black bottles with pictures of either Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Großadmiral Dönitz, Großadmiral Raeder, Hermann Göring or other interesting personnel of the World War II era.
Back to the hotel to clean up, then off to the highlight of the evening and one of the true highlights of the entire Southern “Patrol” – we were guests of honor at the annual meeting of veterans of the Gebirgsjäger (mountain Troops), the Falshirmjäger (paratroops) and the Waffen SS (the ‘Green Berets‘ of the German Army). there were between 400 and 500 veterans in the hall, and all were pleased that we joined them. We met with veterans (photo below) of many of the well-known divisions and everyone was happy to sign autographs, with their unit name and number.
Two new friends – H. J. Genscher and Aüte Peters.
“ULRICHSBERGFEST” – the main reason for our visit to Austria where hundreds of veterans gather to pay their respects to all who fell in battle, no matter what uniform they wore. For the first time ever, the ceremonies and speeches were not held atop this high mountain but rather in huge tents a few hundred yards down from the summit.
Fog and a light drizzle caused that change, but the people were there by the hundreds and the main speaker announced that the Sharkhunters were in attendance as honored guests. We met many new friends there (photo below) and when the ceremonies finished, we enjoyed a light lunch in an old restaurant on the mountain.
|Bill Napier (2290-C/LIFE-1992) with veterans||from the left, Eduard Kummer (6469-2001)|
Harry Cooper (1-LIFE-1983)
Richard Graswald (7008-2005)
After our time here, Duane Luthe-Charles (5821-LIFE-1999) wrote:
“What I liked best about the entire “Patrol” was the ceremony at Ulrichsberg, and being with David Korak (our translator). Harry, your patrol plan was superb! There were to many great memories of this “Patrol” and all equally spectacular, but again I will say, the Memorial celebration at Ulrichsberg. I treasure the friendship of the Sharkhunters and the German people alike; the friends I have made and interaction of these special people is what pulled the entire “patrol” together under your leadership. The “Patrol” gets a 5-star rating from me.”
And Duane’s wife Penny followed with her comments:
“What I liked best – of course the historical sites were very special but I fell in love with Austria! Meeting the veterans at the ceremonies and dinner is definitely a high point. My best memory of this “Patrol” was seeing Austria up close and personal. This is something I will never forget. It was absolutely wonderful!”
After a short rest at the hotel, we were back at the evening with the hundreds of veterans as the evening before. There was singing of folk songs, fellowship and making new friends and there was another surprise – Die Bürgermeisterin (the Lord Mayor) of this town went onto the stage and, one by one, called each Sharkhunters Member up with her where she pinned on a small medal and handed each a beautiful certificate stating that we were “Friends of the Ulrichsbergfest“. It was late again by the time we reached the hotel, but nobody cared about the late hour – they had actually MET history!
|die Burgermeisterin Hilde Gaggl (2nd left)|
and our friend Paul Rösch (2nd from right)
|Captain Fred McLaren (5835-1999) and a veteran of the Wehrmacht.|
Captain McLaren was Skipper of USS QUEENFISH (SSN 651).
Captain McLaren had this to say about his time on this “Patrol“:
“I had a good time and I really liked the München visits, Berchdesgaten, Eagle’s Nest, Nürnberg and the Veteran’s Reunion. My best memories are München, the museums and the new friends made on “Patrol“.”
Next day was an easy day…..slept late (well, a little bit late) and enjoyed a pleasant ride through the Alps to the little town of Berchtesgaden where we did – what else, souvenir shopping! Our bus parked right by the town cemetery and less than 100 feet from our bus was the grave of Dietrich Eckhardt (photo below). If you aren’t familiar with the name, he is acknowledged to be the founder of the NSDAP.
Soon we were at the beautiful Hotel zum Türken (photo below), owned by our friend and Member, Ingrid Scharfenberg (3308-A/LIFE-1993). She was waiting in the door with a huge hug for Harry, then we all took our rooms in this historic place. Harry showed the different openings into the tunnel and bunker systems of the former residents like Hitler, Göring, Bormann and Speer.
|Hotel zum Türken – photo shot from the end of|
what was once the driveway to Hitler’s home.
|This is all that is left of Adolf Hitler’s mountain home, the Berghof.|
It was destroyed by the government.
This hotel is a couple hundred years old and Ingrid’s grandfather bought it about 100 years ago. Her father was the owner when the war came along and since Hitler had the home immediately next door, Martin Bormann offered to buy the place from her father. He refused, saying the hotel was not for sale. Bormann had him put into Dachau “until he changed his decision” about selling the hotel. It didn’t take long until he sent word to Bormann that he would sell, but Bormann thought that he should now make the hotel a gift to the Party. With Dachau looming over his shoulder, who could argue with that logic – and so Bormann took over the hotel and the personal guard of Hitler from the 1st SS Division, the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, was quartered in this hotel. Ingrid’s father quickly died.
After the end of the war, Ingrid’s father was dead and so she and her sister went to the Allies and said that the hotel really was theirs. The Allies agreed and gave the hotel back. It is restored to its former beauty – BUT – in the middle 1990’s the US Army gave the area back to the government and the Bavarian Government has decided that, since the LAH were quartered there, it must be some kind of evil place and they are trying desperately to get the ownership back from Ingrid so they can destroy it as they have done with everything else on the Obersalzberg. No matter that wonderful people like Johannes Brahms stayed there, it must be evil – in their eyes – and so must be destroyed . We hope they do not succeed!
Ed Kelley (6799-2005) had this to say about his time on our “Patrol“:
“I had a really great time and I best liked the comradeship, bunker tours, Hotel zum Türken, the Eagle’s Nest and the bomb shelter museum. My best memory is talking with the veterans.”
Our deluxe motor coach took the group into Salzburg for the evening where they had dinner and of course – souvenir shopping!
Peacefully awakening to the magnificent Alps outside our windows, we had a great breakfast cooked by Ingrid herself. There was another short walk to look at different bunker entrances – then down into the tunnels and bunkers (photo below) beneath the Hotel zum Türken! We walked in the footsteps of history – down the tunnels and into the machine gun positions of soldiers long since dead. It was indeed, a trip back into time!
|Machine gun position – five stories underground!||Viktor Hirschmann (6773-LIFE-2004) at the memorial|
high atop Kehlstein Mountain by the ‘Eagle’s Nest.’
At mid-day, we boarded the specially-geared bus for the long and difficult ride to the top of the world, or so it seemed. We arrived at the entrance to the magnificent brass-lined elevator that took us to the Eagle’s Nest……….the very same elevator that took members of the Third Reich and their guests there some 65 or more years ago. We looked over the huge fireplace of Italian marble, a gift of Mussolini, and had our lunch in the famous place. We walked the grounds and since it was a bit cool, we enjoyed ‘Glühwein‘, a spiced and heated red wine to ward off the coming of winter’s chill. From this spot, high in the Alps, we could see the massive Salzburg Castle in the distance. A short rest at the hotel in the afternoon, then into town for the evening and – you guessed it…..souvenirs!
Another of the highlights – OKTOBERFEST! After a visit to the world famous Deutsche Museum, we visited the ‘Wies’n‘ – that is short for the German word meaning the meadow, and that’s where the first many Oktoberfest celebrations were held. It is now all paved and along the main midway are the tents of the various Münchener beers – huge tents filled with revelers and of course, those famous German “Oompha” bands, each trying to outdo the next. The beer flowed, the food and the fun was almost over the edge. Some were dancing in the aisles, others drinking – A LOT – of beer and of course …buying souvenirs!
Oktoberfest! A world-wide party
This was a super day of fun and fellowship, but it was also a sad day because it was the last full day with new-found friends. It was a rather quiet group that returned to the hotel this evening.
It is a solemn breakfast as we say goodbye to friends we have just met but whom we will remember forever. One by one they get into cabs for the five-minute ride to the airport and back to their homes scattered across America. A handful of people from this “Patrol” took taxis to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) where they caught the ICE (Inter City Express) train to Hamburg for that “Patrol” but that is another story and another webpage.
Some of our travelers headed from the South
‘Patrol‘ to the North ‘Patrol’. From the left:
Martin (our bus driver)
Dan Houser (6978-2005)