The Air Base Becomes Fursty
On 29th April 1945, the invasion of the US Army marked the end of World War II for the citizens of Fürstenfeldbruck. In its wake, the air base was occupied and used as an operating air base by the US Air Force. Captain Woodworth of the 840th Engineer Aviation Battalion gave the order to restore the air base site, which had been severely damaged in the aerial bombing in early April 1945. In the course of the restoration, the completion of the administration and accommodation facilities as well as the kitchen facilities had priority. In order to build a runway and a taxiway, a railway connection was established, too. In 1947, the runway was extended by 300 meters on both sides. Due to the extension of the air base, private owners again lost land when the European Command US Army expropriated their properties. As is common with US Armed Forces stationed abroad, a “little USA” was established. Thus, many residential buildings, the so-called “Sternbauten“ (star-shaped buildings), a school and a kindergarten as well as a church for all denominations were built. The name “Fursty” came into being.
The fluctuation of American units arriving and leaving the air base was very high during the postwar years. Thus, from 1948, parts of the 36th Fighter Bomber Wing (36. Jagdbombergeschwader) of the US Air Force had their home here. This bomber squadron was the first US Air Force unit to be equipped with jet airplanes in Europe. During the Berlin Crisis of 1948/49, various US Air Force units were temporarily stationed in Fürstenfeldbruck. The air base came to play a central role for the US Armed Forces at the beginning of the Korean War in the year 1950. Afterwards, until 1956/57, the US Air Force used the air base as a front airfield in the Cold War as well as a training base for itself and its allies. In this context, the 7330th Flying Training Wing, which had been stationed here since the end of 1953/beginning of 1954, played an important role. It was a unit set up in Fürstenfeldbruck under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP) providing flight training also to non-European allies of the US. After the end of World War II, the USA assumed its role as a leading nation among the colonial powers for the NATO states and temporarily for other countries as well. Colonel Mark H. Vinzant, the new commander of the air base, set up a flight training group. As early as from 1952/1953, student pilots from Turkey, Italy, Iran and Pakistan were trained in Fürstenfeldbruck and from the mid-1950s, student pilots from Portugal and Spain also received their training here. By the end of the MDAP program in 1956, more than 1,000 jet pilots from 15 NATO states and Third World countries had completed their flight-instructor training in Fürstenfeldbruck. On 1st November 1957, the air base was taken over by the Air Force of the Federal Republic of Germany and was officially handed over on 14th December 1957.
Being dependent on the American occupation force, Anton Uhl, appointed as provisional mayor by the Americans, and Hans Wachter (CSU), first elected mayor, tried to establish a good relationship with the American authorities in civil administration and at the air base from the beginning. Immediately after the war, their relationship was still rather frosty. However, the number of problems such as housing shortage, unemployment, a high crime rate and food shortage soon made both sides cooperate pragmatically. Despite the preceding war, the Americans also did their best to establish a friendly relationship to the Germans from the start – to their citizens and the town administration as well. At the beginning of the 1950s, joint housing programs were set up. From July 1952 onwards, a liaison office for civilian matters of the air base existed at the town hall. One month before, Colonel Scott, commander of the air base, had already invited mayor Bauer and other town officials to the air base in order to intensify the German-American relationship. On the other hand, the town council had to deal with the issue of low level flying at the air base in its meeting on 7th May 1956.
At the same time as the air base was taken over by the US Armed Forces, private homes and individual housing complexes at Werftsiedlung or at Tulpenfeld were also occupied. In 1946, more than 1,400 civilians were employed at Fursty. Four years later their number had risen to some 2,000 civilians in charge of the maintenance and expansion of the airfield. For the citizens of Fürstenfeldbruck this meant relatively good job and earning possibilities in economically difficult times. Moreover, many local craft businesses benefited from orders from the air base. After the end of World War II, the relationship between the members of the US Air Force stationed at the air base and the local people was still difficult but it gradually improved, for example thanks to the German-Youth-Association-Program initiated in 1949 organizing youth sports festivals or relief actions for needy children. Another example was “Operation Help” by Major Chaplain Pietrek in November 1952 which involved US American soldiers and their families collecting food, clothes, money and toys for needy Fürstenfeldbruck citizens. In 1955, 3,000 trees were planted in the Rothschwaiger forest by students of Bruck and the American school at the air base in a joint planting event. In addition, the “Armed Forces Day” of the US Armed Forces in May 1955 helped bringing the civil population and the military closer together. On 5th April 1957, US Captain Richard Higgins who had technical problems on a training flight saved the people of the town by not ejecting over the town area but at its western end. While the wreckage of his plane crashed down on a meadow, Captain Higgins lost his life in the accident. On the initiative of former mayor Dr. Fritz Bauer, a street in the town area of Fürstenfeldbruck was named after the American jet pilot.Source information