Story and photos by Larry Reilly
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs
Col. Glenn Dickenson, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, led 10 members from the community to participate in the 72nd anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Buchhof, April 9.
Dickerson placed a wreath at the memorial site, located on the farmlands just outside the town of Buchhof where American and German Soldiers were engaged in a seven-day battle in April 1945.
“Each year, we pay homage to the hundreds of Soldiers who fought here and especially to those who lost their lives in the Battle of Buchhof,” Dickenson said, addressing the more than 60 local residents who had gathered to pay tribute. “It was a battle that included hand-to-hand combat and artillery and tank engagements for a solid week.”
Although most of the numerous skirmishes occurred in the fields around Buchhof and nearby town of Stein, the battle drifted into both towns.
“As the battlefield moved toward the surrounding towns, another concern came into play for the American Soldiers, and that was civilians on the battlefield,” Dickenson said. “American soldiers are trained to protect and defend civilians, especially in battlefield situations.”
Residents soon found themselves under siege as the two armies fought one another within the close confines of the two villages.
“Unfortunately, innocent civilians lost their lives during the battle. However, many survived to tell their story,” Dickenson said. “One such person was Herr Hermann Belz, who was just six years old at the time and still recalls the fear that gripped him and his family as the battle raged on all around them.”
Belz and his family lived in Stein at the time of the battle, and farming the same land where much of the battle was fought, and to this day Belz still farms the land. “Leaders all over the world have to realize that conflicts cannot be solved by wars,” Belz said.
“Belz collected memories and testimonies from others who survived the battle,” Dickenson said. “He has shared the stories with his children and grandchildren as well as with local school children who visit his farm to hear the stories.”
Dickenson thanked Belz for preserving precious memories.
“It is in the sharing of the stories of what happened on the battlefield and in the nearby villages more than 70 years ago that will help preserve the memory of all those who lost their lives during the Battle of Buchhof,” Dickenson said.
This is the third straight year that Dickenson participated in the memorial ceremony and, as it will be his last, he left the audience with a parting message of friendship.
“I will always remember my visits to this farmland area of Germany, not just for the beauty of the landscape, but for the caring and heartfelt appreciation of the residents who live here,” Dickenson said.
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