OCCUPYING GERMANY: ON THE FRONTLINES OF STOPPING THE RED MENACE
By Phyllis Zimbler Miller
One line description:
The true life account of an U.S. Army Military Intelligence couple stationed in Munich from September 1970 to May 1972 on the frontlines of the Cold War.
Utilizing my original military and civilian documents from this period, I recount the impact of the Cold War on U.S. military forces stationed in Germany during that period as well as the experiences my husband and I had as Jews in Germany stationed as part of an occupying force only 25 years after the end of WWII.
Why this book?
Many Americans have no idea that American troops continue to be stationed in Germany ever since World War II ended as the frontline defense for democracy in Europe. Now that the Cold War threatens to renew itself, this is a particularly appropriate time to look back at protecting democracy against Russian aggression in Europe and for Americans to understand the role the U.S. military and their families play in this global effort.
In addition, due to the recent rise of the right-wing Alternative for Deutschland political party as well as the rise of anti-Semitism in other parts of Europe and as the number of Holocaust survivors dwindle rapidly, it is important to educate people about the Nazis’ Final Solution.
My husband and I left Germany after 20 months of living in the country that had killed 6 million Jews and untold others of Romani, homosexuals, dissidents, mentally handicapped, etc. The experience of living in Germany surrounded by reminders of the Holocaust changed us forever.
I was stationed with my husband with the U.S. Army in Munich, Germany, from September 1970 to May 1972. My husband, Mitchell R. Miller, was a Military Intelligence Officer at the 18th Military Intelligence Battalion and worked on the sociological desk under U.S. Army civilian Lucian Kemper, the German-born son of Robert Kemper, an assistant U.S. chief counsel at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kempner (Lucian himself had been interned in Dachau early on and, when released, worked underground in Italy for the Americans during WWII.)
I spent a year engaging with the U.S. Civil Service to eventually obtain the right to work for the U.S. Army and to get my own security clearance. I worked as a secretary for a counterintelligence unit of the 66th Military Intelligence Group; the reports I typed were sent to the CIA’s Munich office.
Although Mitch and I had tickets for the Munich Olympics, a change in Army policy for Mitch’s classification sent us back to the U.S. in May 1972. When we returned to Philadelphia, with a B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University I worked as an editor and reporter for the weekly Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia, where I published firsthand accounts of Holocaust survivors and saviors. Mitch attended Temple Law School during that time on the G.I. Bill and then I earned an M.B.A. in Finance at The Wharton School.
In 1980 we moved to LA, had two children, and I worked on my writing besides holding marketing positions. I was the founding president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
In 1992 Perigee published the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION that I co-authored with Rabbi Karen Fox. In 2008 my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT – a fictionalized version of my first nine weeks in the spring of 1970 as a new officer’s wife – was a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist at the same time I self-published the book through Amazon’s POD company.
The Amazon recognition of MRS. LIEUTENANT plunged me into the digital world, and since 2008 I have been active on social media and frequently blog on history-related and book-related topics at my own author blog as well as writing guest posts for other sites.
I am a seasoned public speaker and have taught news writing and copy writing at the college level.
I blog on history-related and book-related topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and I now repost on Scriggler.com, where several of my posts attract a high number of views.
I’ve been on Twitter since the spring of 2008 and have grown my followers organically to over 11,900 (http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller). I also have a Facebook profile and a Facebook author page as well as a robust LinkedIn profile with blog posts, a Google Plus account, a Pinterest account and a Goodreads author account. For five years I wrote a monthly guest post on book marketing for another author’s blog.
I have experimented with paid ad campaigns on a variety of online platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Library Thing, BookBub and Amazon.
From November 2008 to November 2009 I was the co-host of the twice weekly BlogTalkRadio interview show “Your Military Life.”
In early spring 2018 my ebook “The 7 Essential Tips for Marketing in Today’s Digital World” is due out from Business Expert Press.
A Google search of “Phyllis Zimbler Miller” will return pages and pages of blog posts and online articles I have written since 2008.
I am most active on Twitter — http://twittercom/ZimblerMiller — with 11,900 followers.
My other major accounts are:
The Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION co-authored with Rabbi Karen L. Fox was published in 1992 by Perigee. The book went into several reprints. When the rights reverted to us, we self-published via Amazon’s POD company in 2008.
My other books currently on Amazon are self-published.
I know of no comparable books in the market that focus on a personal account of being part of a U.S. occupying military force in Germany during the Cold War as well as a personal Jewish account of living in Germany in the early 1970s.
For a second history book project I am in the process of writing SURVIVORS AND SAVIORS: A MEMOIR OF THE HOLOCAUST. (See www.phylliszimblermiller.com/survivors-saviors)
This book will cover the survivor and savior accounts I published while editor of the monthly literary supplement of the weekly Philadelphia Jewish Exponent as well as many additional survivor stories and related Holocaust experiences (including the first-hand interview I conducted with German Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld and the attempted film project about Israeli Nazi hunter Tuviah Friedman).
Chapman University’s Holocaust library/archives personnel have been currently working with me to eventually make the survivor and savor accounts available online in their entirety.
In addition, as I am very interested in history projects to educate younger generations, I am working on a proposed TV docudrama series that would contrast the Cold War and the Vietnam War fought simultaneously by the U.S. This project would incorporate the narrative of OCCUPYING GERMANY. (Tentative title for the proposed TV docudrama series: TWO WARS: Fighting Communism – The Cold War & the Vietnam War.)
Chapter 1: September 15, 1970
The Pentagon installs a new computerized link to the FBI to help find military deserters – September 14, 1970
The upcoming September 1972 Munich Olympics appears to be a piece of luck for myself and my Army 2LT husband Mitch Miller. At the 11th hour I get concurrent orders to accompany my husband from the U.S. to Munich because the Germans have already pushed many U.S. (occupation) units out of Munich in preparation for the Olympics, leaving available housing for U.S. Army junior officers.
Chapter 2: September 18, 1970
Fifty-two American soldiers are killed in South Vietnam fighting, the lowest since the week ending December 3, 1966 – September 19, 1970
Mitch and I arrive with our eight pieces of luggage at the Munich train station amidst drunken guest workers celebrating the famed Oktoberfest.
Chapter 3: September 20, 1970
Five Nobel Prize laureates, in special U.N. ceremonies, call upon the U.S. and Soviet Union to halt the nuclear arms race. – September 21, 1970
Mitch and I discover that we have army sponsors who should have written us weeks ago that I had concurrent orders. At dinner at their army headquarters I say to myself: Welcome to the U.S. Army in Europe – ground zero in the Cold War.
Chapter 4: September 25, 1970
U.S. student Mark Huessy is sentenced to seven years in prison in East Berlin for making propaganda statements against the East German government. – September 26, 1970
Mitch hopes to be assigned to work for the head of the 18th Military Intelligence Battalion sociological desk – German-born Lucian Kempner, the son of Robert M. W. Kempner, assistant U.S. chief counsel at the Nuremberg Trials. Later Mitch and I meet the Jewish Army chaplain and learn that, a few months before we arrived, Arabs set fire to the synagogue in Munich. At the adjoining Jewish old age home, seven elderly Jewish residents died in the fire.
Chapter 5: September 30, 1970
The Selective Service System sends new rules to local draft boards prohibiting them from calling for induction a man who has reached his 26th birthday unless he had been called previously for service before he was 26. – September 30, 1970
I attend the NEO – Noncombatant Evacuation Order – briefing on what to do in case the Russians march into West Germany or set off a nuclear bomb in West Germany.
Chapter 6: October 16, 1970
Following a series of explosions at West Coast military installations and a court house, Nixon orders the FBI to investigate and crack down on terrorists. – October 9, 1970
We travel north to rescue our Fiat, shipped to Bremerhaven, and run into numerous obstacles, including being dumped off the train between Germany and Denmark in the middle of the night for fear that Mitch is trying to go AWOL in the era of Vietnam. (Our papers are not in order.)
Chapter 7: November 1, 1970
East and West Germany announce simultaneously that they will resume talks designed to improve relations. – October 29, 1970
We visit the concentration camp of Dachau only a short tram ride from downtown Munich. We walk through a small gate to view the crematoriums where the bodies of people who died or been killed at Dachau were burned. Then as we walk back into the main part of the camp, I turn around and spot, framed by the small gate, three Gypsies – two men and a woman – a stark reminder that the Gypsies were also marked for extermination.
Chapter 8: November 10, 1970
U.S. forces in South Vietnam are reduced to 368,000, the lowest level since December 1966. – November 9, 1970
In our Army quarters I read a book about the Holocaust and, as I reach the description of a 1938 event I hadn’t heard of before – Kristallnacht – the Night of Broken Glass –I shiver as I realize today is the anniversary of that horrific event.
Chapter 9: December 1, 1970
At a White House ceremony for Young American Medal winners, 19-year-old Debra Jean Sweet tells President Nixon she finds it difficult to believe that he really wants to end the war in Vietnam. –December 3, 1970
The news about the Vietnam War is grim including information presented at Lt. Calley’s trial at Ft. Bennington for the 1968 My Lai massacre. I am nauseated by remembering about fragging – the term for enlisted men killing their officers in Vietnam – such acts as rolling a grenade into the officer’s tent, the officer usually a first or second lieutenant. Mitch’s rank.
Chapter 10: December 14, 1970
North Vietnam calls President Nixon’s threats to continue air strikes an excuse to escalate the war. – December 12, 1970
Standing in skis in a tow rope line on top of the Zugspitze, I listen to an American military personnel I don’t know tell me what would happen if the Russians rolled their tanks into West Germany. Basically we’d all be dead.
Chapter 11: January 1, 1971
The Polish Catholic Church asks Premier Pyotr Jaroszewicz to restore all freedoms to the Polish people as a condition for “peace in social life” within which church-state relations would be normalized. – January 1, 1971
The Russian spy stands out in the cold to watch all officers and their wives of the 66th Military Intelligence Group arrive at the Officers Club for the New Year’s Day reception. I overhear an officer’s wife say to the colonel’s wife, “I didn’t want to come today.” The colonel’s wife shoots the other woman a withering look and replies, “If I had to get up, you can darn well get up too.”
Chapter 12: January 23, 1971
The Army drops charges against the last of the five enlisted men accused of participating in the Songmy massacre. – January 22, 1971
We meet a captain newly arrived in Munich from Vietnam. When he starts describing how he killed the Viet Cong, Mitch and I make our excuses and leave. This captain hadn’t even been drinking like the officer at the Ft. Knox, Kentucky, Officers Club who asked me if I knew about the Phoenix assassination program in Vietnam.
Chapter 13: February 13, 1971
Cornelius McNeil Cooper Jr. becomes the first West Point graduate to receive an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector. – February 13, 1971
As a junior officer, Mitch for the next six months is assigned to babysit a platoon of 24 men every weekday morning, getting up extra early to arrive at the troops’ barracks at 7 a.m. and make sure the enlisted men get up, clean the billets, etc. And since the platoons are rated, Mitch will be rated by how well his platoon does in their ratings.
Chapter 14: March 5, 1971
Court martial of Army Capt. Ernest Medina in connection with 1968 My Lai massacre begins. –March 8, 1971
Constantly surrounded in Germany by reminders of anti-Semitism, I write an essay to be submitted to the Chicago Sentinel newspaper that includes this paragraph:
“Just two weeks ago in Munich the German Jewish day school received a bomb threat. The following week was the first anniversary service for the seven elderly Jews who died last year when the main synagogue of Munich was set afire by an arsonist. In the last few weeks the store of an Israeli in Munich was burned and police have ascertained that it, too, was set. Of course any or all of these acts could have been performed by the many Al Fatah members who live in Munich. But a German or Arab Amalek makes no difference, we still have to be on guard.”
Chapter 15: March 12, 1971
South Korean forces complete replacement of U.S. troops on the armistice border with North Korea. –March 12, 1971
The rules for the “dining in” that Mitch and the other officers are required to attend are issued. These include: “3b. No women’s names will be mentioned during the course of the meal. (Should an officer mention a woman’s name, he is required to buy all other officers who overheard him a drink of their choosing at the conclusion of the dinner.)”
Chapter 16: April 9, 1971
Rep. Hale Boggs (D., La.) accuses the FBI of tapping congressmen’s telephones and demands the ouster of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. – April 5, 1971
We consider traveling in Europe. As an MI officer, Mitch is under restrictions not to travel in Communist countries. That means a lot of European countries, including ones with very popular tourist sites, are off limits. We think of this as we prepare to celebrate Pesach – the Jewish holiday of freedom. How many people around the world, including in Eastern Europe, are not free?
Chapter 17: May 10, 1971
Paris peace talks to end the Vietnam War enter their fourth year of continued deadlock. – May 13, 1971
The evening of Mitch’s promotion to first lieutenant, Mitch and I go to dinner at a Russian restaurant in Schwabing, the student and nightclub district of Munich. At the next table a U.S. Air Force officer, his wife and a German couple are seated. Mitch buys them a round of vodka to celebrate his promotion while he contemplates where he will be in less than a year.
Chapter 18: June 5, 1971
Nineteen U.S. troops are lost in Indochinese war combat, the lowest weekly total since October 1965. –June 5, 1971
Mitch and I meet my parents and two of my three siblings in Israel. While there I contemplate that Mitch and I were in Jerusalem almost two years earlier on our honeymoon. At that time, certainly with no expectation of ever living in Germany, we stood outside the building of the 1961 trial of Final Solution architect Adolph Eichmann.
Chapter 19: July 25, 1971
Jane’s Fighting Ships reports that U.S. naval strength is on the decline while the Soviets have achieved super-navy status. – July 30, 1971
In a discussion among the very few Jewish Army personnel stationed in Munich, a German-born Department of the Army civilian is asked why he doesn’t want to visit Dachau. He says, “In the investigations for the Nuremberg war trials and the interviews I had to conduct, I saw it in my mind better than many people who saw a camp after the war.” And then he adds, “My father was killed in Auschwitz and I lost 12 other relatives at the hands of the Nazis.”
Chapter 20: August 28, 1971
U.S. Defense Dept. expresses deep concern over the shipment of Soviet planes and pilots to Egypt. – September 1, 1971
In a Copenhagen restaurant a classic “pick up” (an attempt to turn American military personnel into working for the Russians) is made to Mitch and me. I am about to start my security-clearance job at the 66th Military Intelligence Group so I as well as Mitch have been briefed about this classic attempt. We run all the way from the restaurant to Tivoli Gardens to get away from the man and then debate between ourselves whether regulations require we report this attempt.
Chapter 21: September 7, 1971
For the third time in a week, U.S. bombers strike at enemy positions inside North Vietnam. – September 6, 1971
I start my new job just when the office is in an uproar because a “soldier has gone over” (to the Russians). At the same time someone in Mitch’s unit has gotten orders for Vietnam, which his Commanding Officer is trying to delay.
Chapter 22: September 25, 1971
Nixon signs a bill extending the military draft through June 1973, and freezing military pay hikes until the wage-price freeze ends on Nov. 13. –September 28, 1971
The German employees under the Status of Forces Agreement are the only ones allowed to put up the Army sukkah for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. But they cannot put it up in time because they have to go to Oktoberfest. Meanwhile, under the Agreement we are not allowed to put it up ourselves. (Mitch is now lay leader of the Munich Jewish Army community as the Jewish Army chaplain rotated back to the U.S.)
Chapter 23: October 18, 1971
German Chancellor Willy Brandt is awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize for Peace. – October 20, 1971
We read the headline on page 2 in the October 18th International Herald Tribune – “Nazis of Oradour Massacre Hail War in Beery Reunion”:
“ROSENHEIM, West Germany, Oct. 17 (Reuter) – Some 500 members of the Nazi ‘Das Reich’ SS division, which massacred over 600 men, women and children in a French village in 1944, today wound up a weekend conference to form an old comrades’ association, with beer and wartime songs.”
Chapter 24: October 23, 1971
U.N. General Assembly votes overwhelmingly to admit Communist China and expel Taiwan from the U.N. – October 25, 1971
We visit Berlin, where our tour does not stop at the Wannsee Villa where on January 20, 1942, the infamous Wannsee Conference took place with the discussion of the extermination plans for the Jews – the “Final Solution of the European Jewish question.” We do go to Checkpoint Charlie to view the razed ground before the Berlin Wall on the East side with its barbed wire, tank tracks, hidden mines – all deadly traps for anyone trying to escape the workers’ paradise.
Chapter 25: December 10, 1971
Five Moscow Jews are arrested for planning a vigil outside the city’s U.N. information center to observe Human Rights Day. – December 10, 1971
I type a letter to accompany a monetary donation from the few Jews of the Munich American Army community to help save the Anne Frank House, as reported in a newspaper article:
“A severe monetary crisis led last year to serious talk of closing down Anne’s World War II refuge. There was more talk of closure this spring, but now there are hopes that No. 263 Prinsengracht will overcome its money problems and continue as a mute symbol of reproach for the greatest mass murder in history – the Nazi extermination of six million Jews.”
Chapter 26: December 26, 1971
The U.S. begins heavy air assaults on military installations inside North Vietnam, reportedly to protect remaining troops in the South. – December 26, 1971
We visit the Medieval walled city of Rothenberg ob der Tauber, where Jewish tombstones have been defaced and placed in the outer walls of the pig market. Having seen enough, we do not go on to Nuremberg, where the Nuremberg racial laws were introduced in September of 1935 at the annual Nazi party Nuremberg Rally. These infamous laws classified who was Jewish by percentage of blood, and the laws deprived Jews and other non-Aryans of German citizenship. Jews were prohibited from marrying German citizens in addition to numerous other draconian measures. Two months later the laws were extended to Gypsies and blacks.
Chapter 27: April 28, 1972
President Nixon announces that 20,000 more U.S troops will be withdrawn from Vietnam over the next two months, despite the intense North Vietnamese offensive launched in Indochina in the past three weeks. – April 26, 1972
We stand at the site of the Allied D-Day invasion during World War II – the audacious landing in Normandy that began on June 6, 1944, and eventually led to the end of the war. When we reach Pointe du Hoc, a 100-foot cliff with Nazi concrete gun batteries still visible at the top, I gasp. “To get off the landing boats and face this cliff, they had to know they would die,” I say. Mitch nods. “Tremendous casualties here.”
Chapter 28: May 12, 1972
The Soviet news agency Tass distributes an official condemnation of the U.S. blockade of North Vietnam and warns of possible serious consequences to international peace and security. – May 11, 1972
Back in the U.S. and outprocessed from the Army, I pick up the day’s Wall Street Journal and read that the day before, a few hours after we had flown on an army charter from Frankfurt, the U.S. Army’s Frankfurt Officers Club had been bombed with one officer killed and others injured. Apparently a letter from the German left-wing terrorist group the Red Army Faction claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Epilogue: September 5, 1972
King Hussein of Jordan bitterly criticizes the commando attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. – September 5, 1972
Mitch and I are in Philadelphia and not at the Olympics; we disposed of our event tickets when we got orders to return to the U.S. in May. Needless to say, we are devastated.