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The History of Rothwesten/Kassel


Entrance Gate to Rothwesten

This is a view of the guard shack from inside the base. The statue is just over the wall on the left. The dependents housing area was straight ahead on the right side of the road. The road goes out maybe a half mile to another road. I think they call it Rothwestener Str., now, turn left on this road and down a steep hill and you are at Simmershausen and the Fulda. Somewhere on the left from Simmershausen is the Grau Katze.

In 1935 Kassel had only a small airfield for pleasure aircraft. Some time later the area between the villages of Westhagen, Rothwesten and the country estate of Eichenberg were chosen as the location for a Luftwaffe base. A runway was constructed which was 600 meters wide and 800 meters long. Later it was extended to 1000 meters. On the east side of the runway the technical buildings were set slightly into the hills. Among them was a wharf, a maintenance building and an engine testing building. Additionally there were three large hangars; later two more were added. Then there was a command post and a building for the aerial photographic service. In the middle stood the control tower.

The first buildings at Rothwesten were put into service on May 1, 1935. In December 1935 the first pupils arrived for the new flying school which had been established there, and by mid 1939 the Fliegerstab Rothwesten was completed and at war strength, hosting a reconnaissance group taking photographs over Poland, France, Belgium, and Holland.

During the war, Rothwesten was of less strategic importance. The new planes could not use it. The runway was too short, and it was not concrete. Nevertheless, parts of the maintenance crew stayed behind to serve the flying school which still had its facilities there. The most important task for the base was as a service center for night fighters. Aircraft that had to refuel during battle could land there, and minor repairs could be made. It was not a real night fighter base, and played a minor role during the war.

As a result of having been built with very deep foundations, some buildings could be equipped with basements, and some even with a sub-basement. These were used to store all kinds of things. They were not used as bomb shelters, for the walls were not thick enough. However, there was a "Bierkeller," a canteen for officers from the base, with murals on the walls. It is still in use at the base, which is now a Bundeswehr barracks.

Behind the Bierkeller was an arched gallery which was closed with concrete by the Americans after the war. There was also a junior officers' casino. Beneath this cellar was a bowling alley. Next to the casino stood the officers' houses, which were built on small hills. They were connected with one another by wooden foot bridges which led over the airbase roads. Other buildings (mostly barracks) stood in the middle of the woods. For the soldiers and Luftwaffe men, who were used to old, grey buildings, it was like a resort. In its day it was one of the most modern and best-equipped Luftwaffe bases: it had a swimming pool, hospital, gas station for private cars, barber shop, post office, etc.

From 1944 until April 1945, the remaining larger buildings of Rothwesten were used by Fieseler aircraft industries as a small production line for planes. According to eyewitness reports, most were Me-109 fighters of the later types (probably G versions and perhaps a few Ks). Another unconfirmed source says that during the winter of 1943/1944, there was a very small production line for the Ju-87D. Spare parts for these machines were eventually stored in some of the basements, but by March/April 1945 production stopped as supplies ran out. Orders were issued to dismantle the production line. This work was about 90% complete when the war ended. The unfinished wings and fuselages had already been moved to an unknown place.

When the Americans took over the base in 1945 they inspected every corner above and underground. Every door was carefully examined; there was still a chance that some booby-traps might be found. After inspection, they sealed (welded) all doors of cellars that were not going to be used. Generally those doors were found in the few sub-basements. When the Bundeswehr took over the base from the Americans in 1975 every building was inspected again from top to bottom. Cellars that were not used were closed or sealed off. Some of them have now been returned to use by the Bundeswehr.

Several U.S. military units were stationed at Rothwesten after the war. They include the 1st Constabulary Regiment 1946-1947.


Kassel 1945

After World War II (1949-1950) two Signal Service Companies, the 114th SSC and 116th SSC, deployed detachments to Rothwesten during the warm weather months.

In April 1955 the 331st Communications Reconnaissance Company moved from Giessen to Rothwesten. It maintained outstations at several place to include Bahrdorf, Lubeck, Altefeld, Fulda, Wasserkuppe, Darmstadt, Fritzlar and Wesendorf. In June of that year the 331st CRC was re-designated as Company A, 307th Communications Reconnaissance Battalion. In July 1956 the unit underwent another re-designation and became Company A, 307th Army Security Agency Battalion.

In 1957 the Army Security Agency was forced to downsize and found itself unable to sustain the manning of its tactcial TOE (permanent) units. Many of the TOE units were inactivated and replaced by TDA (considered temporary, usually designated USASA units) units. Due to the downsizing, the 307th ASA Battalion was deactivated on 15 October 1957 and the 319th USASA Battalion (TDA unit) was formed from it's men and officers. The reorganization resulted in the addition of Company C, 319th USASA Battalion which was formed and located in Rothwesten. The 184th USASA Company was organized and assigned to the 319th USASA Battalion at the same time.

The 319th USASA Battalion continued it's mission in at Rothwesten until 1966. In June of 1965 the 17th USASA Field Station was activated at Rothwesten. In June of 1966 it was re-designated USASA Field Station Rothwesten and continued operations until June of 1972.

The 17th USASA Field Station included HHC, A Company (Operations Company), B Company, C company and Det A, Schleswig .