JOHN WALL HANFT

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Russian Linguist

August 1958-December 1959

 

 

BERLIN MEMORIES 

 

I am a retired military judge and the keeper of the Berliner Kameraden address list.  I havetwo daughters and one grandson, and divide my time between North Carolina andMinnesota.  I served in Berlin with the ASA from August of 1958 through December of 1959.  Indeed, I have many, many memories of that time, but most of them are very personal in nature, and my rather limited vocabulary does no allow me to even begin to give them a proper place in a written forum.  The memories that I can share are of the pro forma variety, but here are a few.  By the time I got to Berlin, the ASA ranks had swollen to around 150 or so.  We all had a job to do, and I think we did it quite well, 24 hours a day.  Looking back at those times, the thing that has stayed in my mind most regarding the purely military aspect of ASA in Berlin (at least at that time) was the lack of command trying to butt into our lives.  Command (what there was of it) had the good sense to pretty much leave us alone.  And we generally had a ball!

 

As for Berlin itself, it was and is one of the great cities of the world (that is, if you don’t mind not seeing the sun from October to March!).  West Berlin was largely rebuilt by the time I got there, yet an American dollar would get you DM4.20, and 50 Pfennigs (about 12 cents) would get you a half liter glass of fantastic German draft beer.  And not only was the beer cheap.  A dinner at one of the best restaurants on the Kudamm cost me DM5.30 (about $1.30), and that came complete with a strolling violin player.

 

Through one of my fellow ASAers there, I met a really wonderful German couple who guided us to and through many wonderful Berlin places and events that we never would have seen or experienced otherwise.  I kept a correspondence with them for some 25 year after I left Berlin, and we would occasionally even meet.  Unfortunately, they are now both gone.

 

There you have it, just a sampling of my many memories of Berlin.

 

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