The American military offers patriots, adventurers and social misfits of all kinds career options, which until the end of the 80s, all too often led directly to the Hessian provinces. The GIs were stranded there on the outskirts of quaint old towns in barracks with their own housing areas, schools, PX and officers‘ clubs, living life with a clear concept of the enemy, flag-raising, roll call, anti-tank weapons, German Fräuleins, and plenty of Jim Beam.
Gelnhausen was one of these towns, lying not far from the border with the East in the middle of the "Fulda Gap", Western Europe‘s most highly-armed military corridor. During the base’s heyday, there was one member of the American armed forces for each of Gelnhausen’s 8,000 inhabitants. In ‘G-town’ they "stood up to the Russians" and sought their own personal piece of happiness. On paydays they transformed this sleepy town into a different, somehow excitingly crazy and enticing world: into ‘little America’. The excess of multi-ethnic machismo was, however, not without its consequences: the prostitution, love affairs, children given up for adoption, violent altercations, and large quantities of drugs resulted in ‘American apartheid’, to streets being declared ‘off limits’, and to the permanent presence of the military police.
The two authors, who moved to the town as children and grew up there, have returned to Gelnhausen to create this portrait of a typical barracks town and of a life lived between the banal and the deadly serious.
Jürgen Michaelis - mayor of Gelnhausen for almost 30 years
Prof. Dr. Peter Krahulec – veteran of the peace movement
Günther Oswald – police officer of the First Police District Gelnhausen
Jim Melley – his colleague of the Military Police
Ursula and Alfred Hensel – live next to the barracks
Jörg Höller – former German-American Contact Officer
Wilhelm and Carl Bode – own a farm within the military training grounds
Daniela Alof – daughter of a black GI and a German woman
Stephen Darnell Summers, GI and Vietnam veteran
Gerd Lehnert - keeper of a pub that is popular with Americans
Andreas Schilling – former taxi driver
Egbert Haug-Zapp, theologian and former local politician
Ute May-Baldner, lives in Gelnhausen
Book: Heike & Helgard Haug
Technical realization, director: Helgard Haug
Sound design: Frank Böhle
Editor: Gisela Corves
A WDR production, co-produced by the SWR