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When: 3-5 May 2010
this previously unpublished photo, Lt.Col. Kenneth Wallace, 30th
Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division (on the right), discusses
the surrender of Berchtesgaden with Bürgermeister Karl Sandrock
(left, in overcoat) and Landrat Theodor Jacob (center), in the
square in front of the war memorial. From there, this group traveled
up to the Obersalzberg, to complete the surrender of the area, 4 May
1945 (Click here to see photos of the capture of the Obersalzberg by
troops of the 3rd Infantry Division).
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Flies Over Obersalzberg
On 5 May 2008, Old Glory flew again on the Obersalzberg, Germany. A special forty-eight star flag was raised by Society members, commemorating the flag-raising ceremony conducted there by 7th Infantry Regiment Soldiers exactly 63 years earlier on 5 May 1945.
Veterans Bob Dutil, John Miller, and Ross Brown, who had all been present at the 1945 ceremony, raised the flag and then unveiled a commemorative brass plaque. The plaque recognizes the 3rd Infantry Division’s entry into Berchtesgaden on 4 May 1945, the first Allied unit to enter the city. Assisting the three veterans were Paul Heintges, grandson of 7th Infantry Regiment Commander, Colonel John Heintges; Kathy Brinson, daughter of veteran Joe Kolacz; Captain Monika Stoy, President of OP Europe and ceremony organizer; Dr. Bernhard Oswald of the International Resorts GmbH (which owns the Intercontinental Resort Berchtesgaden), and State Secretary Georg Fahrenschon of the Bavarian Finance Ministry. Also attending the ceremony were Berchtesgaden, Mayor Franz Rasp and the U.S. Consul General in Munich, the Honorable Mr. Eric Nelson. While the 1945 ceremony had been short and solemn, this one concluded with the singing of the “Dog Face Soldier”—the first time the Division song was sung on the Obersalzberg.
The ceremony preserved history by making history—the plaque is the first to recognize an American unit for its WWII accomplishments in Germany, and in a location of tremendous significance—the Obersalzberg. The 3rd Infantry Division made history 63 years ago when, after 2 years and 9 months of combat, soldiers of the 7th Infantry Regiment, along with attachments, under orders from Division Commander, Major General “Iron Mike” O’ Daniel, won the race to reach the last significant Nazi war symbol and entered Berchtesgaden shortly before 1600 hours on 4 May 1945; the original flag ceremony took place the next day. Last month’s Marne Trail ceremony made history by bringing Americans and Germans together on this special anniversary.
In her keynote speech, Captain Stoy honored the veterans’ accomplishments and the division’s grand achievement, and paid special tribute to the close and important relationship between Germany and the United States, and between Bavaria and the US Army, and between German and American people. She described the relationship as one that developed after WWII, characterized by mutual respect and admiration and critical to victory in the Cold War. “The 3rd Infantry Division’s entry into Berchtesgaden signaled the end of the greatest evil to befall mankind in the 20th century, as well as the long national nightmare of the German people,” said Captain Stoy.“It also signaled the beginning of a partnership and a friendship between the United States and Germany,” she said, adding that “this partnership proved to be indispensable in the West’s ability to defend freedom from totalitarianism.”
Captain Stoy concluded her speech by stating that the German-American relationship “…continues to be indispensable as Europe and the United States face the myriad challenges of the 21st century. It is a partnership that grew from the shared sacrifices of the Cold War, but is based on the true friendship that developed between American soldiers and the German people who were their hosts here.” The speech was translated into German by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Stoy, who also narrated the ceremony.
The memorial plaque visibly testifies to the division’s hard-won battle honor of liberating Berchtesgaden, a fact erroneously called into question in Stephen Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers which inaccurately the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment with that honor. Regrettably, the book’s 2001 HBO mini-series the inaccuracy to the American public. Now, the Obersalzberg Marne Trail ceremony sets the record straight.
Not only the plaque, but also eyewitnesses testify to this fact. Major General Lloyd Ramsey, then a lieutenant colonel, knows exactly what happened; he had been posted by Iron Mike O’ Daniel at the only operational bridge providing access to Berchtesgaden. Sherman Pratt, then a first lieutenant and commander of L Company, also knows what happened; it was his company that raced to reach Bertchesgaden. Bennett Walker knows; then a sergeant, he had been chosen to raise the flag on 5 May 1945 because of his valor in the fighting in Nuernberg during the previous month and because of his actions as platoon sergeant of the lead platoon in L Company. Bob Dutil of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry’s I&R section, and John Miller of L Company also know; they were there, too. All of these veterans and eyewitnesses know the real history of the liberation of Betchesgaden. They and many others have provided invaluable support for the Marne Trail Project and for the Obersalzberg ceremony.
Other critical support for the memorial plaque dedication was provided by the Bavarian State Chancery under State Secretary Eberhard Sinner, represented at the ceremony by State Secretary Georg Fahrenschon of the Finance Ministry, and by the International Resorts GmbH, represented by its Director General, Dr. Bernhard Oswald. The Intercontinental Resort Berchtesgaden Director, Mr. Tom Bauer, and his staff, led by Andreas Zybell, provided important assistance and acted as hosts to the veterans and family members who traveled to Germany for the ceremony. The hotel also arranged for a local band to provide musical support. VFW Post 9534 from Mannheim, Germany, under Commander Matt Coulter, provided an outstanding color guard for the ceremony—all six color guard members became Society members.
Two individuals provided key support. . Colonel Steffen Rohde, German Army, retired, was of immeasurable assistance throughout the preparation process which began last year. And, Florian Beierl, the historian of the Obersalzberg Institute, rendered invaluable assistance in coordinating with local authorities, supplying vital historical background, and providing linguistic support. He has also provided great moral support for the 3rd ID; in his published history of the Obersalzberg, he accurately credits the Division with liberating Berchtesgaden
At a post-ceremony reception hosted by the hotel, Captain Stoy recognized those who contributed to the success of the event and presented the three veterans and Kathy Brinson, representing her father, Joe Kolasz, with Freedom Team Salute certificates from the Department of the Army. The veterans then presented their state flags to Dr. Oswald – California by Bob Dutil, Michigan by John Miller, Colorado by Kathy Brinson, and Texas by Paul Heintges.
Media coverage was provided by the Armed Forces Network- Bavaria, arranged by the Army Chief of Public Affairs, Major General Anthony Cucolo. Other media coverage included Bavarian television and the Berchtesgaden newspaper.
OP Europe has worked on the Marne Trail project for three years, placing 19 plaques in France; the Obersalzberg plaque, the only Marne Trail plaque in Germany, marks the logistical end of the Marne Trail. Now the Obersalzberg can serve as a meeting point for veterans, their children and grandchildren, and all supporters of the 3rd Infantry Division, can return annually to remember the Division’s tremendous achievements. The special Old Glory will remain, flying over Obersalzberg at the 3ID monument throughout the year and will greet the next group of veterans who plan to visit in May 2009!
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The 3rd Infantry Division raises the Stars and Stripes at Obersalzberg, above Berchtesgaden. The flag is raised by Pvt. Bennet A. Walker and Pfc. Nick Urich of the 3rd Division's, 7th Infantry after capture of the village.
Read the November 2005 issue of Conde Nast Traveler Magazine starting on Page 214-The story by Clive Irving of a tour of present day Berchtesgaden with the usual errors of the 7th Infantry Regt. of the 3rd Division not being the first unit to capture the town.
A Hotel Too Far?
What do you get when you transform the Nazis' Bavarian
playground into a luxury resort? Clive Irving explores the enigma of
Hitler's legacy, and discovers that some ghosts can never be laid to
Unfortunately, the following
paragraph perpetuates a persistent mis-conception that the 3rd
Infantry Division was not the first unit to enter Berchtesgaden.
Clive Irving said when units of the 3rd Division reached Hitler's
mountain top compound above Berchtesgaden, the French were already
there and were first. That is not true. The 3rd was first,
the French arrived four hours later, and Easy Co, 506 Parachute
Regt, 101st Airborne (Band of Brothers) arrived 16 hours after the
Third. The 101 has always claimed to be first. They were third. We
had years of trying to set the record straight, as Stephen Ambrose
in his book, Band of Brothers, had the 101 first.
Click here to read the Truth!
On May 4, the Third Infantry Division reached the resort town
of Berchtesgaden and from there took a narrow, twisting road a few
miles up to Obersalzberg, some 1,200 feet above. It found the French
Second Armored, the first of the Free French troops to have entered
Paris in 1944, already there. Nobody much cared who was first. A force
of 315 British bombers had already pulverized much of the Nazi
compound and had left the Berghof a shell. But truckloads of loot were
still to be had, especially wine from the cellars of Field Marshal
Hermann Göring, creator of Nazi air power, who had built himself a
handsome vacation house near the Berghof. In short order, two enlisted
men from the Third Infantry, watched by a small group of
comrades, raised the Stars and Stripes over Obersalzberg, echoing the
way their compatriots in the Pacific had raised the flag over Iwo Jima
in February 1945.
7th Regt. 3d Inf. Div. troops at
Berchtesgaden May 1945, have something to smile about after 3 years of intensive fighting .
|Hitler's retreat was also known as The Eagles Nest. The French 2nd Armored Division arrived with the 3rd Division simultaneously at Obersalzberg and the Eagles Nest (the mountain teahouse) of Adolph Hitler.||Although Berchtesgaden was beyond the 3rd Division zone, General O'Daniel ordered the 7th Infantry to continue on through the hills to Hitler's mountain retreat. This was the last action of World War II for the 3rd Infantry Division.|
Click Here or on
"Third Reich in Ruins" Website Logo to see
Photos from Alain Godec
These photos shows the big flag (which was in fact Dutch) that the French put on the balcony/terrace of the Berghof. The French looking for a French flag, found only a Dutch Flag. When used the right way (vertical stripes instead of horizontal) made it look like the French flag.
Goering's Guest house
12th Company, 3rd Battalion,
of "Regiment de Marche du Tchad
Lt. Messiah sitting with his hands on his lap with a beret.
This is a letter in response to Major Dick Winter's recollections in his book "Beyond Band of Brothers". He wondered why the 7th Infantry Regiment was nowhere to be found when Easy Company entered Berchtesgaden after the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division captured it.
March 18, 2006
Dear Mr. Winters,
We are writing in regards to what you have termed the "controversy" regarding the capture of Berchtesgaden. We are of the opinion that there is overwhelming documentation to support the fact that the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division deserves the title of "liberators". Some, but by no means all, of the sources follow. To preclude any inference of bias none of the sources have ties to the 3rd Division.
In THE LAST OFFENSIVE Charles B. MacDonald states on page 442, “It was congestion, not resistance, that slowed entry into Berchtesgaden. “Everybody and his brother,” said one radio message, “are trying to get into the town.” Motorized troops of the 3d Division got there first, in the late afternoon of 4 May.”
In CRUSADE IN EUROPE President, then General of the Army, Dwight D. Eisenhower states on page 418, "On May 4 the 3rd Division of the same Corps captured Berchtesgaden."
In SWORDS AND PLOWSHARES General Maxwell D. Taylor, former Commanding General of the 101st Airborne, states on page 106, "On May 4 the Division received an order to move on Berchtesgaden behind LeClerc's tanks sharing the Salzburg autobahn with the 3d Infantry Division, Unfortunately, a bridge was destroyed on our side of the autobahn, so that 3d Division units got into Berchtesgaden ahead of us on the afternoon of May 4, followed by two battalions of the 506th Parachute Infantry."
In BEYOND THE RHINE Donald R. Burgett, a member of A Company of the 506th PIR, states on page 132, "Radio transmissions were made by the 506th Regiment's 2nd Battalion to 101st Command, telling of the problem with Major General O'Daniel blocking the way. It took time to send and receive orders to counter those of General O'Daniel. By that time the General had received word by radio that the 7th Regiment of his 3d Division had entered Berchtesgaden, and only then did he lift his roadblock and allow the 2nd Battalion 506th to proceed."
You pose the question, "If the 3rd Division was first into Berchtesgaden, where did they go?" That question is perhaps best answered by Professor John C. McManus of the History Department of the University of Missouri - Rolla. In what may be the most researched and detailed account of the capture of Berchtesgaden, "The Last Great Prize", published in the May 2005 issue of WORLD WAR II magazine, he gives the following account of a meeting between Colonel Robert Sink, your Regimental Commander and Colonel John Heintges, Commander of the 7th:
Heintges returned to his command post and was visited by Colonel Robert Sink, the commander of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The two men were old friends, and they warmly greeted each other. They then sat down for a nice lunch and went up to Heintges room for a few drinks.
Sink turned to Heintges and said: "Well, Johnny, I'm up here ... to relieve you. My Regiment is on the way up here."
Heintges was surprised because the 3rd Division staff had led him to believe that the 7th Infantry would get to stay in Berchtesgaden for awhile. "I just talked to Division a little while ago," Heintges uttered, "and they told me I'd be up here for five or six days."
"Oh yes," Sink replied, "but those plans were all changed and you're going back to Salzburg.”
Heintges excused himself, called the 3rd Division and found out that Sink was correct. The 7th Infantry had orders to Salzburg, its original - and authorized - zone of operations."
It is our hope that this information will help to dispel any doubts that you may have about the 7th Infantry and Berchtesgaden. If this can be accomplished we all move one step closer to the end of any "controversy".
It is not our desire to detract from the accomplishments of the men of Easy Company or the 101st. That would be impossible. We seek only to have the deeds of the veterans of the 7th acknowledged for themselves and their families. Our fathers served with the 30th Regiment of the 3rd Division in World War II. We look upon the men of the 7th as their "brothers in arms" and will do all that we can to insure that their deeds are recognized.
On a personal note, Lt. Col. Sherman Pratt USA (ret), a veteran of both World War II and Korea, is a friend. In 1945 then Lt. Pratt was in command of L Company of the 7th Infantry when they entered Berchtesgaden on the 4th of May. After the publication of BAND OF BROTHERS he wrote Steven Ambrose seeking and acknowledgement of the facts. He was summarily rebuffed.
We are aware that you receive many letters and have countless demands on your time. However, we respectfully request the favor of a reply that we may share with Mr. Pratt and other veterans of the 7th.
You have our deepest gratitude for your service to Our Country, as do all those who served in whatever branch or theatre. We wish you all only the best.
GOD BLESS AMERICA AND THOSE WHO SERVE,
Lee Hatfield, Son of Lee Hatfield 30th/3rd
Lewis Pergament, Son of Hyman Pergament 30th/3rd
Michael Wells, Son of Franklin Wells 30th/3rd
The Truth! US View
An Update on the Third Division Confrontation with Ambrose –
Spielberg over Historical Distortion in the Berchtesgaden Capture
Sherman Pratt, Lt Col US Army
(Ret), Company Commander,
Company L, 7th Infantry, WWII
Russ Cloer, Capt., I & R Platoon
Leader, 7th Inf. Regt., 3rd Inf. Div.,
VI Corp., 7th Army, US Army.
For some months the U.S. Army’s Third Infantry Division vets have been attempting to get Historian Stephen Ambrose and filmmaker Stephen Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan) to set the record straight as to which unit arrived in Berchtesgaden first.
Subsequent to our earlier protests, we now find additional and unimpeachable authorities to support our contentions. We here pass these along to anyone interested in joining us in the struggle to correct the falsehood of Ambrose and Spielberg.
Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower, and the CG of the 101st Airborne Division, General Maxwell Taylor, have both specifically credited the Third Division with the honor of entering Berchtesgaden first.
In his book, "Crusade in Europe", on page 418, Gen Ike wrote, "On May 4th....the Third Division captured Berchtesgaden," In General Maxwell Taylor’s memoir "Swords and Plowshares", wrote, in part, on page 106, "On May 4th the Division (Taylor’s 101st Airborne) received an order to move on Berchtesgaden....unfortunately a bridge was destroyed on our side of the autobahn so that the 3rd Division got to Berchtesgaden ahead of us on the after-noon of May 4th."
One would think that these two honored and reliable authorities would be more than adequate to result in a retraction and correction by Ambrose and Spielberg. But so far, in spite of continued complaints no such development has occurred. Again Hollywood demonstrates it is far more interested in box office receipts than historical accuracy.
Unfortunately, far too many of those men who deserved the tribute, are no longer alive to enjoy it. But little is fair in this life. Those of us who are still here to experience the change are happy to accept it with the same good grace that we volunteered to serve.
The Truth! French View
Regarding the picture with de Valence, O'Daniel and Leclerc,
with gratitude to Alain Godec
Here is what Lt. De Valence said about it :
This photo of General O'Daniel, General Leclerc de Hauteclocque, and Lieutenant De Valence was most certainly taken in Berchtesgaden on May 5, 1945, as this was probably the only time Leclerc was wearing a "cap". De Valence was wounded in Normandy (he lost an arm) but came back at the end of the war, therefore being with Leclerc at Berchtesgaden.
"The scene took place on the autobahn going to Munich, at a by-pass junction to detour a river, probably the Paar river. The Tactical Group (Combat Command) of Lieutenant-Colonel de Guillebon is stopped by the right side of the autobahn approx 100 meters away of the by-pass. Lt-Col de Guillebon explains to General Leclerc that the Americans are refusing to let the French pass before they, themselves, have crossed the bridge being constructed on the river by one of their units that belongs to the 3rd I.D.
*(Also de Valence, whom I have just wrote, says that probably a unit of the 101st did throw the bridge on the river but further in his story he mentions that O'Daniel did say that "his men" had put the bridge. This the reason why I have put (3rd ID. !). With your knowledge of 3rd I.D. you may know who put that bridge, the 101st or 3rd I.D. and correct deValence's text accordingly.)
General Leclerc who I accompany, goes to the bridge near which, and below the road, we see a group of American officers among which is a General. This is General O'Daniel in person, whose face does not appear to me very friendly. He removes his glove from his right hand to shake the hand of Leclerc who asks me to translate his words :
Leclerc : 'Why, General, are you refusing to let my Combat Command cross which has been held back by this for an hour?"
O'Daniel : "Because, General, first you are not on your march axis/route and because second, those are my Engineers who have thrown the bridge on the river and in consequence your element will only cross it when my troops will be on the other side."
General Leclerc raises his voice and asks me to reply that he knows very well that if General O'Daniel let his troops cross first, that is because he thinks that there is no longer any German resistance on the other side, otherwise he would let cross the French Combat Command.
General Leclerc turns towards me and says to me, "And translate this exactly what I have just said ! Repeat exactly without changing a word !"
I must say that my translation was not as brutal. General Leclerc turned back and got onboard his command-car, after having told de Guillebon that his objective remained unchanged and he had, as soon as possible, to move toward Berchtesgaden."
The 3rd I.D turned right for Berchtesgaden and arrived first. The French followed and primarily went to the train station where they found Goering's train with goods and secret papers on the V1/V2 which were later sent to France.
Then an officer (Cne Touyeras) asked de Guillebon to go to the Obersalzberg and he went there taking the left route which the Americans still left unattended."
The Spanish View
I was reading the "Berchtesgaden Chapter" in your father's web and I would add something about.
As a Spaniard, I would like to tell you that one of the companies from the French 2nd Armoured Division that arrived to Berchtesgaden - the 9Th company from the "Regiment de Marche du Tchad" - was formed almost entirely by" Spanish Republicans"
(It was the same company that enter first in Paris).
The story of this unit is so interesting but it has been historically silenced. They were people who can't go back home because they were political refugees.
They fought under the French flag from 1940 to 1945. Many of them fought with Leclerc in Africa, Normandy, Paris, Alsace, German Campaigns and another important group of "Republican Spaniards" do the same with the 13eme Demi-Brigade de la Legion Etrengere in Narvik, Ethiopia, Syria, Bir-Hakeim, Libya, Tunisia, Italy (Cassino), France and Germany with the 1st Free French Division.
I just want to tell you that because I've had the chance to talk with some of these veterans (very few of them) and they have the feeling that history has passed over them because nobody talks about them. That's the reason I do.
A friend from Spain
Veterans, Members, Interested
Stephen E. Ambrose, whose best-selling
books made America's aging World War II veterans hometown heroes again,
died early Sunday, October 13, 2002 at a Bay St. Louis, Miss., hospital.
He was 66. Ambrose, a longtime smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer in
April. Family members were with him when he died about 4 a.m., relatives
In past visits to our Society's website you may have seen my letter asking for support in an effort to get Mr. Stephen Ambrose to acknowledge his error in stating that the men of the 101st Airborne were the "liberators" of
when in fact it was the men of the 3rd. Compassion for others has always been a "trademark" of the American people and one of the many things, our GI's fought to preserve.
Photos courtesy of the 3rd Signal Company,
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from the book:
©1945 Henry Holt & Co.
© 1944 United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
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©Rich Heller 1997-2015
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