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Situated in northern Germany between the major cities of Hamburg and Hannover, on the edge of the Lüneburg Heath, I have known about Hohne for years. As the daughter of a soldier serving in the British Army, the majority of my secondary schooling was undertaken at Gloucester School, which is a British Forces Education Service school situated within Hohne station.

Keith Williams first started to write his history of Hohne for the Gloucester School Hohne Association website, and it really needed no initial introduction because we all knew where Hohne was, we had all gone to school there, some lived on the station itself, while the rest of us lived within a 50 mile radius. It was and still is a very familiar place to a lot of people. It has everything, shops, cinema, schools, sporting & medical facilities, all provided by the army to make this a true home from home for its personnel. Most of us gradually became aware of the historical significance of the area, the buildings themselves all hinted of a past, especially the "Roundhouse" which housed the N.A.A.F.I. and the Y.M.C.A., an imposing building that dominates its surroundings even today.

Keith was immediately taken by the historical feel of Hohne when he first went there as an 11 year boy, the son of a serving British soldier posted to Hohne Garrison. It has long been an ambition of his to write this brief history about a place that has played such a major part in the recent history of Europe. Once a predominantly agricultural area, in 1936 many German families were forcibly removed from their homes and livelihoods, and whole villages were evacuated to make way for the establishment of a massive training ground for the Wehrmacht in the lead up to the war. In April 1945 towards the end of WWII, it was where the Western Allies first had irrefutable proof of what had until then only been talked about, witnessing for the first time the horrors of the infamous Bergen~Belsen Concentration camp which lay a mere 3 kilometres away from Hohne itself. In the period immediately following the war, during what was to be known as the "Cold War" the ever-present threat of invasion from the east meant that Hohne became a BAOR stronghold with several units of the British Army permanently stationed close to the front line. Since that time, following the re-unification of Germany, the situation has changed, and Hohne is once againadapting and adjusting to the new political landscape.

Hohne Garrison today is home to the 7th Armoured Brigade ~ The Desert Rats, who are the latest in a long line of military personnel to occupy this historic area.

Helen Mathews

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