Germany remembers 9/11: community testimonials

By Holly DeCarlo-White
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

Stuttgart Community Members Remember

I was here on Panzer Kaserne as the education officer for the Stuttgart area. I was in my building 2948 and I was walking down the hallway, and someone said, “Have you heard the news? Some crazy pilot has crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings.”  We didn’t draw any conclusions then, but when we heard that a second plane had crashed into the building, I immediately knew this was not an accident. This doesn’t happen twice in one day…

  • Michael Obeirne, former Panzer Education Center services officer

I was managing the Heidelberg Bowling and Entertainment Center and we were under renovation at the time, so I was in a temporary office that was located at a restaurant there. I remember coming back from a meeting and as I was coming through the kitchen in order to get to my office, I saw on TV that the twin towers were under attack. I didn’t believe it at first, I really thought that it was a small aircraft that hit the building, which we later learned was not the case at all. The entire afternoon, I was glued to the TV, to find out what was next, of course then the attack on the Pentagon as well as the Pennsylvania aircraft that went down… it was a horrible day for everyone. Especially, seeing the Pentagon – I had worked at the Pentagon for five years, I knew exactly where the plane hit the building. I had traveled that way many, many times.

  • Jim Einhorn, Galaxy Bowling and Entertainment Center on Panzer Kaserne

I was on travel, attending a conference for Advanced Practice Nurses in Milwaukee, Wis. During one of the sessions, the announcement was made of the attack on the first tower.  The moderator adjourned the session so that we could call families, friends, and employers.  The rest of the conference continued as scheduled, but the hotel set-up large TVs for monitoring the newsfeeds.  Returning home at the end of the conference, I was on one of the first commercial flights allowed to resume service.  It was hard to tell who was more nervous, the passengers or the crew.

  • R. C. Resson

I was in Basic Training in Fort Sill, Okla. The Drill Sergeant brought us all into a room and wheeled the TV in with the news of the planes crashing into the towers. We all thought it was a joke, or some part of the training to scare us. It took a long while for us to realize they weren’t kidding. This was real.

  • A. White, Regional Satellite Support Center

An interview with Böblingen’s Lord Mayor Wolfgang Lützner

How did you hear about the events of Sept. 11, 2001?

Like many other people, I learned about it on the radio. I immediately turned on the TV, of course, and watched, horrified, the live footage. Updates were broadcast almost continuously in many special programs.

What are some changes you have seen in Germany/Europe/the military installations following the events on 9/11?

Personally, my impression is that the need for protection of U.S. forces here in Germany, and of Americans in general, has increased significantly after 9/11. This has also lead them to be somewhat more isolated. The pursuit of security after such a horrific attack is only human and understandable, of course. However, it is rather regrettable that this meant giving up a bit of freedom.

How has the German-American relationship changed in the past 15 years?

This is a hard question. Changes that have occurred over 15 years cannot usually be traced back to a single cause. In fact, there are many factors that influence coexistence.

On one hand, our understanding for the Americans’ need for citizen and force protection certainly increased after 9/11. The shock of this unbelievable attack could clearly be felt also in this country and it lingered for a long time. On the other hand, the Americans’ separation, and in part also isolation, due to safety concerns led to fewer contacts or encounters between Germans and Americans in everyday life. In fact, we have no longer been able to go for a simple walk to the barracks with our children since then.

However, I wish to state and emphasize positively that our relations have become considerably easier and deeper in the past few years, especially here in Böblingen.

What is your hope for the coming years?

I hope that German-American relations will become even stronger, that they’ll continue to grow and thrive. It is also to be hoped that mutual understanding for each other’s situation will always be and stay there – fostered by togetherness, solidarity, trust, and mutual support -but also by constructive criticism, when appropriate and justified. This is my idea of true friendship.

The German and American flags fly from the ladder of a fire truck during the Patriot Day Ceremony held, Sept. 9, 2016 on Panzer Kaserne.
The German and American flags fly from the ladder of a fire truck during the Patriot Day Ceremony held, Sept. 9, 2016 on Panzer Kaserne. Photo by Holly DeCarlo-White