June 18, 2017

1949. American Occupation Troops in Germany Celebrate the Fourth of July

Fourth of July in Europe
"Entrance to the Anchor Service Club in Wannsee, Berlin," August 1949 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

July 4, 1949

There is a big effort underway today to take the German accent out of the Fourth of July in Berlin, and with today's perfect weather, fireworks, and an old-fashioned picnic, it looks like we might succeed.

The main celebration for the hundreds of GIs and American military government employees is at the Anchor Club on the banks of Wannsee lake. There will be a regatta with boats from the British and French sectors competing with the Americans. An old-fashioned barbecue is scheduled. There will be a horseshoe pitching contest, a badminton playoff, softball, soda pop and lemonade.

But the high point of the day will come this afternoon when the loveliest frauleins will parade in a beauty contest to select "Miss Anchor Club of 1949." The winner should be a little honey, because believe me, the GIs here have a monopoly on all the beauty there is in this beat-up city.

The day will wind up with fireworks over the lake—they had been flown in because the only fireworks manufactured here come from the Russian sector, and the Soviets are not letting us have anything that goes bang, holiday or no holiday.

The only thing lacking in today's Fourth of July celebrations in Berlin is the old-fashioned oratory. The closest thing to this is the Independence Day message from General Clarence Huebner, commander of our occupation troops. It took him less than a minute to read it over the American Forces Network.

Huebner warned against complacency in our acceptance of liberty and democracy, and he warned against "false philosophies which promise freedom but result in slavery."

It's no holiday for the fliers on the airlift, but all in all, Independence Day in Germany is just about like it is back home, except we are having a cool, sunny day. It's going to be hard to work up a sweat on a tennis court.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.