tv Close up - The Current Affairs Documentary Deutsche Welle August 29, 2018 11:15am-11:45am CEST
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ramstein air ramstein air right check over. the name ramstein can refer either to a huge us air base in southwestern germany. or the small community of right next to it. is imposed on them to be just a military base where an ordinary small town in rhineland faults they got a song about salsa that in that there was for more than six decades the u.s. military has brought economic prosperity to this region just what i've been told about it being discussed thirty five dollars there but it has also front weapons of mass destruction and environmental damage and noise. sure is vital to the peace and stability of of germany itself so we felt the felt was something that the public had to tolerate. ramstein was also the scene of one of the worst aviation accidents in post-war german history.
ramstein air base resembles small town america there are shopping centers housing complexes movie theaters and sports facilities all the creature comforts of home but for many military personnel ramstein is also their first introduction to europe . got a load over fufu tolls it was all there about fifty five thousand americans living there right now that may come and go every two years or so so over the decades there have been millions of them and this was the place where they got to know germany who it is of
a queue or torchlight can. military veterans who choose to retire in germany often come back to the base i'm always with the german culture but if i feel lonely i want to get to american a cop traps and it's american. transport aircraft constantly take off and land here but what do they carry and where are they headed that information is often classified. and what's in these underground facilities it's all top secret ramstein is also the headquarters of nato's allied air command. the combined community of russia i miss and is about two kilometers away population just over seven and a half thousand. by comparison about fifty five thousand u.s. citizens live in the surrounding region which includes the city of kaiserslautern.
the americans are welcome customers at local businesses for instance who wants like on average americans pump about two point three billion dollars per year into the kaiser's loughton regional economy as the on learning. that includes wages salaries rent payments and construction projects does the stuff for the end that's a yearly average. that. the presence of the u.s. military is both a blessing and a curse on the one hand it makes a major contribution to the local economy on the other much of its work is shielded from the public. these few remaining bunkers date back to the nazi era they were cut into the local sandstone deposits as part of the system of defenses known as the sea crete line. after the war the allies developed this region as an important cold war base they took over the old bunkers. and also
a stretch of highway that ran between kaiser's now turn and. there was portions of the autobahn here which mean an ideal landing field for both the allies and the axis powers so they had built it all the way out here even though this area is quite rural at the time there wasn't heavy use for the roadway out here as of yet so it made a perfect landing field as it was flat it was even have to take the airplane out of the mud in the dirt and made it easier the americans didn't hesitate to reshape the area to meet their needs. to keep a full school the cold war was underway and the allies spent millions a year on military infrastructure of two in the one nine hundred fifty three there
. was a press report about the night of millions of your four hundred million marks worth of contracts were awarded in kaiserslautern in one night. for gave. a number of farmers were ordered to hand over their land and received very little compensation for it construction engineers drained swamps and cut down trees. in one nine hundred fifty one an estimated ten thousand workers from all over germany arrived at the site they put up office buildings housing facilities even airfields it was a shot in the arm for the local economy. but you can damage the region was poor at the time that local residents found new ways to make money they put granma into a room in the attic and rent at the rest of the place from even called adama the homes of those old siméon to put five or six workers in one room in our own in the home made sleep there awake after outside first and then go off to work to fruit
goats or to make their own bank for dinner and then go to bed. big military vehicles roared through the narrow village streets day and night. the u.s. military personnel started to arrive and housing had to be found for all of them. this newspaper article asks whether local farmers should expand their barns and rent them to the americans after all they had more money to spend than the construction workers did there were lots of new housing projects. focus the students grew some said yankee go home but that would have ruined the local economy for. at the same time security at the base wasn't very tight military personnel visited nearby towns and cities like eyes or slow down or it's by booking and the local residents did their best to provide them with goods and services. so. turned their cars into taxis.
general stores became souvenir shops and. pubs were transformed into dense homes the troops often had lots of time on their hands and this led to an increase in what some german critics called immoral activity. courses its own coming soon there was prostitution and more bars in the villages this was a rural area not everyone was pleased about this activity or in. the increase in the use of alcohol and illegal drugs even spread to the families in the german quarter that hosted the troops that naturally led to an increase in the crime rates during those years. so no god who for from the feeling of. civilian authorities don't get the us military police or the local german police stepped in to try to get things under control officer thomas comes of it and go
through things. like many black troops experienced more democratic freedoms in germany then they did back in the us particularly if they were from the southern states they could sit where they wanted on buses were served in restaurants and could dance with the local women. some studies claim that this phenomenon helped to strengthen the american civil rights movement in america and american soldiers were not subjected to the segregation that was still prevalent in the deep south is the sticky cuts will get there were no legal or social restrictions imposed on them at all. i think because what there was some grumbling among the local residents for example a german father may have had concerns that his daughter was dating a black man and he was seen at the inside of talked on with how awful it can also use the council. they got. in at the. there's still many
germans were attracted to the american music that was being played in pubs and clubs there were new dances hot rhythms coca-cola and cocktails and performances by some of america's best musician is that god is the golden gate quartet. vinyl hampton. and count basi and yes everybody is all of it in a great mist way isn't bad back to seattle usa footy your good thoughts when you go to go for younger germans this is an entirely new world order that they've lived through the nazi era and the war that these and then suddenly here is this exciting new music including a jap such people and it will seek the feel of. one of the great things about jazz is that it helps you to express yourself a cry for youth and young people thought that was great it's. awful. but the americans weren't here just to have a good time ramstein also played
a key role in nato is front line of defense against the warsaw pact the base was fully stocked with the latest missiles nuclear and chemical weapons were stored nearby. just a few kilometers south of ramstein near the municipality of can spot is the site of nato's former air defense operations center if the warsaw pact had attacked the air base command and control operations would have been transferred here. this facility which was closed in one nine hundred eighty four covered thirty five hundred square meters its primary mission was to monitor european airspace for potential threats. the nearly seventy rooms contain an early version of a computer that plotted bombing strategy plus equipment for analyzing enemy code
traffic and. facility for processing reconnaissance photo ops. and the center was completely self-sufficient it had its own water supply electricity generators climate control system and accommodations for the staff. the military weapons have always held a certain fascination for some people. in the early years after ramstein was opened local residents were invited to open house events. the air force tried to maintain a good neighbor policy with its hosts germans and americans often held joint public celebrations these included the start of baseball season with local royalty on hand . this one nine hundred sixty five parade marked the crowning of the local rose queen and the community seven hundred fiftieth anniversary. that same
day the base commander and the mayor of rum shine laid a wreath at the town's war memorial and then dedicated a square that had been named for president john f. kennedy. and. the relations between the two countries were cordial then many of the american troops married local germans jasko footloose the golden yellow those are the golden years of german american relations from the mid fifty's to the end of the sixty's. don the cold war then things sort of cooled off germany took a more mature approach and the post. of a critic of. the vietnam war divided not only american society but the entire western world and ramstein served as a key transport hub during the conflict. u.s. army depots near ramstein were filled with weapons bound for southeast asia troop transports took off regularly from the base. soldiers like patrick
henry left their families behind and went to war. does funny. vital it was easy last month continues to different you didn't get mail very often when you couldn't just pick up the telephone records on my ass called the red cross for health and welfare reports on him or paul to find out if he was even still alive in my money i'm leaving missed. black and white us troops fought side by side in vietnam but back in the us racial tensions were running high and many african american soldiers stationed at ramstein expressed their frustration at the situation. of a civil lawsuit that we've been in trying to learn its side how your life so it seems would feel if. you don't be divisive. jobst as his own fear.
him out and does be a sunni chuffing been a lot of those roots of. reals that leave light only been in one suppose you're born to talk about we're through it but i want to agree with that so most that we just thought it was and we just try to take it we want. meanwhile thousands of people attended yearly open house events at the airbase. we've been having air shows and i'm signed since one thousand nine hundred eighty three. and it's a good way to show the public what a helicopter looks like or go in a cockpit of a plane or you know be able to talk to somebody who flies their plane or fixes their plane so it allows the public take a little bit more familiar about something that would be strange in our normal everyday life. it was important for the u.s.
military to maintain good public relations. ns with the germans. at a press event in one thousand nine hundred sixty five one participant even managed to shoot film inside the cockpit of a brand new phantom f. four fighter bomber these days that would be considered a serious breach of security. we for the f. word phantom and our mission was to train for war. fighter jets bombers and transport planes filled to the skies above ramstein day day after. that is nonsense even after she the fighter squadrons were stationed here until nine hundred eighty seven we had an average of one hundred seventeen thousand takeoffs and landings a year and wish me. only choice for not having the noice would be for the air france not to be here we felt that we had a mission to accomplish our mission was vital to the peace and stability of of
germany itself as well as the united states and so we felt that that was something that the public had to tolerate. this is the ramstein documentation center. one of the items stored here recalls the one nine hundred eighty one attack on the base by the red army faction a militant left wing group. i'm hearing of this on the right it this is a special case. this globe comes from the headquarters of the u.s. air forces in europe which was attacked by the red army faction in august nineteen eighty watts of the globe was damaged in the attack you can still see were pieces of the map are blown off it isn't look. like a huge car bomb exploded outside the headquarters building twelve u.s.
military personnel and two german civilians were wounded. even before the r.a.f. claimed responsibility for the attack the base commanders ordered a number of new security measures. is the bottom line for the when this whole bottom line her afraid on the facts and things started we were worried that we'd be targeted in an attack if you like some up for a fight and when israel had to cause one in the garage and one parked on the streets. and every morning i check underneath it for explosives. you didn't wear your uniform around and you didn't put american flags on your car you know so that you would stand out he would try to blend more in with the population. relations between the germans and americans grew tense peace groups demonstrated against nato's policies toward the warsaw pact and called into question the open
house events at brimstone airbase. but we must this over why did they do that to us what did they show us all those weapons of war soil and. they turned it into a public festival. what about the security threats to the public this i knew this would be flogging a fleet of what about the technological issues are going to face me when you thought of what sort of horrific military adventures with those weapons be used for the. the public was still welcome at the base even as peace activists made their presence felt those who tried to hand out leaflets were turned back. and the visitors were no longer allowed to get too close to the aircraft. and. sometimes there were clashes between demonstrators and security police let loose was.
peace activists trying to find out more about supplies of u.s. nerve gas stockpiled in the nearby town of clausen and nuclear warheads stored in fish pond. and the inverse sheaf keeps when thought it was really up to one group's a slice of some food if something had gone wrong with those weapons what consequences with that have had for the local residents in and him out on so. i would go to those places but they were fenced off. and so you couldn't get in or get any kind of information on what was stored there and vice and who had access to it. convergence who could shut. in one thousand nine hundred eighty six president ronald reagan announced that all us chemical weapons would be removed from west germany by nine hundred ninety two in one thousand nine hundred ninety
more than one hundred thousand artillery shells tipped with nerve gas or move to a depot at michelle near the town of around shine before being transferred to a u.s. base in the pacific ocean for disposal. once for claus forgot you're going to if they're going to accident or something it would have had a devastating effect on the surrounding area is there something i'd gone seriously wrong i don't know what we would have done. in august one thousand nine hundred ninety a c five a transport aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from ramstein killing thirteen of seventeen on board the side of the crash was twelve kilometers from me south where stocks of nerve gas were being prepared for transport was a dangerous yes by all means i would not say no but again you have professional people that knew what they were doing and are trying to even if something happened for that they've been trained it was dangerous but that was the kind of life we were living at that time. for years
activists had been warning about the safety risks posed by some of the open house events particularly precision flight demonstrations. august twenty eighth one thousand nine hundred eight their worst fears came true that's right look you know so much it's a beautiful summer day and people were sitting outside around the field sunning themselves barbecuing eating ice cream and generally enjoying the day to come up. the crowd was a. about to enjoy a performance by the italian precision flying team the french eatery caloric or the tri color arrows the jets had just taken off so their fuel tanks were full. he. lies but it was the last show of the day in the italian squadron that richard chico laurie got started about three thirty and you know.
as you know beyond a certain charge told us that the preparations are gone smoothly in those there were three hundred thousand people there was a beautiful day. and then tragedy struck because this whole thing. just into next to the first we thought it was some sort of pyrotechnic stunt. that's what it looked like in the first few seconds knows. was not. an easy there was a huge fireball it was and we could see right away that something had gone terribly wrong when many people were screaming and shouting his newton even thirty years later it's still fresh in my mind the things that i saw and heard and experienced in those first few minutes and the invitation is that good still is the crash site like a battlefield with deborah and mongol bodies were everywhere up at the end because
some people were desperately searching for their loved ones but couldn't find them that's why for the mention the. fun. undone you see and me and you miss me i saw a young girl who was about eight or nine years old that's high and she was running towards me screaming so much she wore a light colored summer dress and i could understand why she was upset on it so she she looked ok from the front by the nazis would be sent off to side to get play but then she turned around and i saw that her back was badly burned out it that i don't you know some of the dress fabric had melted into her flesh orange when it is made to die and counted dr i was treating people nearby and i took the girl to the moslems who for. seventy people were killed and hundreds of others injured. every year on the anniversary of the disaster survivors and relatives gathered to pay their respects
to the victims the air traffic at the base is suspended for one hour. the crash was just horrible i mean you never thought some like that would happen ok and then the amount of people that got hurt the other side is having been assigned before a pram stine and knowing what you know ramstein where the planes are and things that could have been much much worse that could have. fallen into one of the bunkers that has the oil in the patrol and things like that so it was hard. even today three decades later many still associate the name ramstein with the air crash . as i was but even if i tell someone from kaiser's lots of them they think of football as that but if i say ramstein and they say oh yes the disaster on the lot of people think ramstein is just a military base and the minute it's limited happens is after the cold war came to
an end in one thousand nine hundred nine the us started shutting down or merging a number of its military bases but ramstein was due for an expansion during the gulf war in one thousand nine hundred ninety to ninety one troop and supply transports took off regularly from the base. but in two thousand and one the nine eleven attacks on the u.s. had a profound impact on ramstein that's an off him if he's up to right after september eleventh two thousand and one the base seemed sort of powerless as of it was like the whole facility has shut down the muslim clinic or you hear a pin drop. it was like that for two or three days because most of the fuel in the transports started up again but it was the u.s. prepared its military response to the attacks. and in iraq after that it becomes so restrictive it becomes so hard that to bring the germans the un and it over time how it is just about gone away that even the restrictions are so
hard that definitely hurt the the relationship between the german americans. and demonstrators started returning to the base in two thousand and twelve many were concerned about the u.s. military's use of drones to carry out targeted killings of suspected terrorists the . the signals that control the drones pass through ramstein air base. i can't comment on what the americans are doing because we haven't discussed it with them yet just to much as it does look ramstein is the headquarters of nato is allied air command and that includes missile defense operations. that's a well known fact almost understood as it's become we're an airlift command that's our major mission that we deliver food and supplies and troops and equipment to and
fro different theaters throughout europe and into africa as well but turn more for it depends on what units use it and what purpose this means that. much of the activity that takes place at ramstein air base today is tops. but sixty years ago the facility was a place where americans and germans could meet and get to know each other that doesn't happen today. every evening at sunset as the bugle sounds retreat work at the base stops for a few minutes. military personnel come to attention and civilians stand respectfully as the german and american national anthems are played. this ceremony recalls a time when the united states and germany were close allies particularly during the cold war the relationship between the two countries is now more complex.
but as nato redefines its role for the future ramstein air base and the surrounding community will likely continue to play on. the fast pace of life in the digital world shifting as the lowdown on the west showing new developments and providing useful information to the wittiest files and interviews with the makers engineers are. next on dollar. his creations and. his brand unmistakable talaga bennett ticonderoga of the fashion world. but what do we really know about the man feet high in the
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