Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This Day in History Aug 17 1987

Rudolf Hess found hanged by an electrical cord at Spandau Prison, aged 93. He was incarcerated there for 40 years, 21 of those years as the solitary inmate. In 1941 Hess flew to Scotland with ideas of peace in his head, making Hitler very very upset.

Why does this make the blog “Smokes and Booze”? – Hang in there, there is a payoff.

Rudolf Hess was a prominent Nazi politician who was Adolf Hitler's deputy in the Nazi Party during the 1930s and early 1940s, was an SA commander during the failed Beer Hall Putsch (but that doesn’t qualify him here), transcribed Mein Kampf for Hitler and eventually rose the rank of Deputy Fuhrer.

What brings him up today on S&B happened later in his life. 

During the later parts of WW2, Hess privately hoped that he could convince Britain to join Germany as an ally.  So on the  10th of  May 1941, Hess (a competent flier) took off from Augsburg in a Messerschmitt Bf 110 (radio code VJ+OQ) which he had equipped with drop tanks to increase its range.  He later crashed his plane and demanded to see the Duke of Hamilton.

Hess was tried at Nuremburg and was given a life sentence, that ended on this day in history when he committed suicide.

What links Hess to S&B is not the man himself, but where he chose to steal his Messerschmitt from;  Gablingen Field, Augsburg Germany.

Flr-9-2You see, Gablingen Airfield was captured by the Americas at the close of WW2 and later converted to a Military Intelligence Station for monitoring electronic traffic during the Cold War.   The large “Elephant Cage” Antenna (a FLR-9) was the most prominent (and talked about) feature of the base.

When I arrived in 1992 to work on Trojan Classic and Trojan Spirit as a government contractor, we had offices in what affectionately called “The Back 40” – First in abandoned buildings in a compound within a compound, left over from WW2, and later in in the last remaining (of two) hangers left over from that faithful day  on 10 May 1941. 

Old Trisa

Again, even my crazy ties to this story (and I wont even get into “The Vagabond Series” with Glenn and Jeremy – That is a whole 10-15 different blog posts) are not what brings this to S&B.

Instead, we go to a brewery – Thorbräu, one of the oldest breweries in Germany, founded in 1582 in Augsburg, Bavaria.  You see, beer is such a part of German culture that everyone drank all the time.  In many cases, there German Contractors/Soldiers on the bases, and once the Military went “Dry” at lunch during the 80’s, the Germans still had a right to drink during the day.  Since Gablingen was a Military Intelligence installation, it had to have items specially vetted prior to bringing on base…..and so Thorbräu had a special beer made for the installation, believed to be the only one of its kind.  The label even depicted the secret base and it’s trademark antenna.


As Paul Harvey would say – And now….you know the rest of the story.

Jump over to the S&B Facebook Page for some pictures of Gablingen (Then and Now)

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