WIESBADEN, Germany - From its name, Club 905, one might assume this is a swinging hot spot where people meet for a good time. And although that is partially true - this club welcomes a distinctly more mature clientele - U.S. veterans, retirees, spouses and widows - who meet once a week for conversation, refreshments and to share information.
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Club 905, the first American Veterans Center of its kind to open in Germany in a former U.S. military community, welcomed German and American guests Oct. 21. Located on the former Francois Kaserne in the Lamboy section of Hanau, the club is open Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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"I welcome you to the first veterans center in all of Europe," said Joyce Schloesser, the force behind the establishment of the club and a Wiesbaden community volunteer who helps veterans and spouses make the monthly trip by bus from Hanau to Wiesbaden for shopping, health care and other needs.
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"The idea began about two years ago as the Army closed (the military communities) in Hanau and BAfA1/4dingen," she said, explaining that she was supported by city officials to find a place where individuals who remained in the area could come to socialize and share military information.
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Schloesser described how her husband, Dr. Robert Schloesser, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's director of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, served as a young lieutenant in Hanau in the early 1960s and returned in following years to serve in a civilian capacity.
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"Americans who were assigned to the BAfA1/4dingen and Hanau areas all have great memories. ... We will never forget Hanau and BAfA1/4dingen and the other areas where we served," she said, thanking German citizens for the hospitality they extended over the decades.
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Hanau Lord Mayor Claus Kaminsky, BAfA1/4dingen Mayor Erich Spamer and past Hanau Lord Mayor Margret HAfA$rtel were on hand to help welcome veterans to the center.
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"I'm glad to stand here today at the first and only U.S. Veterans Center in all of Europe," said Kaminsky, praising Schloesser for her dedicated efforts to bring the project to fruition. The mayor explained that while the city contributed to the project, a large part of the successful endeavor was thanks to Thomas and Herbert MAfA1/4ller of the Terramag GmbH - a Hanau company that provided space for the center in the building which once served as a temporary home for Lithuanian refugees after WWII. "They performed an invaluable favor for the veterans."
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"The Americans did a lot for our city," said Kaminsky, pointing out how in the years immediately following World War II, the U.S. military helped reconstruct Hanau and brought peace. "They came in 1945 as liberators and left as friends."
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Kaminsky also said that, unlike in the former East Germany side of the country where the Soviet military left buildings that were in much worse shape, the U.S. military turned over property that was very valuable for future uses.
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Spamer, who bid farewell to Soldiers and families in BAfA1/4dingen as they left in 2007, said, "The people of BAfA1/4dingen have not forgotten about you and you have not forgotten your German friends. ... Just as you are welcome in this veterans center in Hanau, you are always welcome in the city of BAfA1/4dingen."
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A,A Stephen Waller, an employee with Central Texas College who retired from the U.S. military in 1984 and still lives in Hanau, said the new center was "excellent."
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"This is significant," added Robert Pierce, Wiesbaden's Retiree Council president.
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"Today is a wonderful day for me to see all these retirees, widows and friends come together," said Albert Vargas, a retired veteran of 3rd Squadron, 12th Cavalry, in BAfA1/4dingen.
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"This is very needed in my opinion," Vargas added, saying that the center offers a place where people can share ideas, maintain contact and help each other. "It's a place where you can come back together again, stay in touch and, for people who are having difficulties of one kind or another, to help one another. It's a tremendous asset to all of the people who can benefit from this. ... I will be dropping by frequently."
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While Club 905 is only planned as a temporary center, Hanau's mayor said that a more permanent home is in the works. "In the coming year we hope to have a permanent location in the former Hutier Kaserne."
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The Hanau American Veterans Center is located at Ulanenplatz 2 on Lamboy Strasse - across the street from the former Hutier Kaserne and just down the street from the former U.S. Army Garrison Hessen Headquarters on Yorkhof Kaserne. For more information contact Joyce Schloesser at Schloesser-bob@t-online.de or call civ (06128) 489 202.

Page last updated Tue October 26th, 2010 at 10:50