GOODBYE G.I.

A documentary film
by Uli Gaulke and Agnes Lisa Wegner

Next TV broadcast: October 29, 2014, 11.30 pm, SWR


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After more than 65 years, the US Army is leaving Mannheim, Heidelberg and Schwetzingen. The complete removal of the US Army from the Rhein-Neckar-Delta is a moment in history, a historical moment for this region and its people - no matter if it is seen as liberation or an unfortunate farewell.

For more than 65 years, the soldiers and their families were ever present. The barracks, Chevys, street signs and the sound of AFN are a daily part of our reception of the cityscapes of Mannheim, Heidelberg and Schwetzingen.

Even though high fences - especially after 9/11 - divided American and German living realities, German-American friendships were formed, families were raised, work relations were established over generations.
Most importantly, the American presence shaped this region’s culture to a considerable degree. Heidelberg is the cradle of German hip hop, the most successful German soul music is from Mannheim and every year, one of Germany’s best and largest Jazz Festivals takes place in this region. Here, teenagers grew up with patches of American culture. With American Football and beauty shops, graffiti and American diners.

While the US Army continues to pack up and the cities are eagerly planning what shall become of the former Army installations, between farewell and new beginnings we want to pause and hold our breath and let the open spaces talk to us.

By means of events on the (former) US Army grounds and other cultural projects, GOODBYE G.I. seeks to look at what the US Army will be leaving behind and what the Americans are taking home with them once they leave.
“I went on post yesterday.
They’re really packing up now! The girl in the PX said that by September the entire kaserne would be closed. I did drink one last toast to the old home.”
US soldier, Schwetzingen, Germany