I have visited and lived in several G locations: Germany, Greece, Georgia, and this place:
Actually, it was my parents who lived here in the late 1990’s while my dad worked for the civil service. Graf, as this town is called by most Americans who have been stationed or trained here, is a small city with about 6,500 inhabitants in Eastern Bavaria.
Graf is the largest training area in Germany and one of the largest NATO training bases. Previously, this camp was used by German troops since 1907. Hitler particularly liked to climb up into the tower pictured above and watch his troops train during the World War II era.
Once the Americans took over this base for their own use (though some German Bundeswehr units also still use the post), Elvis Presley even trained here during his short stint in the Army before he became truly famous. (For the record, my mom once glimpsed Elvis walking down the main shopping street in Frankfurt when she was a teenager some time around 1960, at which point he was already on the edge of fame and recognizable.)
Graf is very close to the border of the Czech Republic, and it is a short drive to Karlsbad (or Karlovy Vary as the Czechs call it), a spa town where one can buy gorgeous and inexpensive crystal and porcelain:
My parents actually lived in a tiny (and I do mean TINY!) village of Schweissenreuth near the Army post. This village had 11 houses, and we lived in #11. It was a truly idyllic location – a quiet town surrounded by fields and woods. I was in college at the time, so I was only there a short time in the summer and at Christmas.
One day, in the summer time, we saw tanks approaching from a distance!! It was quite an odd site and initially we didn’t know what was happening. However, we soon were told that the German Bundeswehr (military) was using our village for a training exercise in practicing taking over and occupying an area.
My husband attended a short training exercise at Grafenwoehr while we were stationed in Germany. He brought back several pieces of crystal for me (that he bought from a Post Exchange vendor). We also drove to Karlsbad together with friends, and got a porcelain coffee service. Sadly, upon moving back to the States, after assembling and setting up our china cabinet, a shelf with all my “treaures” fell – and most of those items were shattered.
Guess we may need to go back some day …