Ehrenbreitstein - Festung Ehrenbreitstein
By Chet Yastrzemski
Co E 272nd Inf Rgt
On March 27, 1945, Fortress Ehrenbreitstein fell into the hands of American soldiers for the second time in the 20th Century. Details of the troops involved and the movement may be read in Unit Histories of the 272nd Inf Rgt beginning with the March 26, 1945 date. The historic factor of the conquest and the ceremony of the occasion is also spelled out there.
The capture of the fortress was a historic occasion because it was here that the last American flag was lowered following the occupation of Germany after Word War 1. The flag was lowered on April 23, 1923, and the same flag was once again raised over the fortress on Army Day, April 6, 1945, as a symbol of the victorious return of American troops to Germany. General Bradley, 12th. Army Group Commander and Major General Rheinhardt, 69th. Infantry Division Commander, presided over the ceremonies.
Two platoons were selected from various companies of the 272nd. & 273rd. Regiment. They were chosen in proportion as to their height and weight generally about 5 ft. 10 inches and about 150 lbs.. They were representatives of World War 2 as conquerors and received the colors from members of the 4th. Infantry Division, representitives of the occupation troops of the last war. Also present was a platoon of soldiers from the various infantry divisions in the European Theater Of Operations.
Fort Ehrenbreitstein sits very high upon a rock formation. Looking down from the fortress at the Rhine River is a scenic view of the area known as "Duetsches Eck." At this site is a statue with a soldier on a horse. At this time the head of the soldier was missing supposedly shot off by a artillery shell from our troops. When I returned to this fortress in 1965 the head was still missing from the statue.
This is a huge fortress and we were billeted in a former German Army barracks. One area of the fortress was underground and was being guarded by the Military Police. We were advised that it was off limits and that there were many paintings and other artifacts, including gold, that were stolen from other occupied countries and stored in this fortress.
Upon my return to Company E I was glad to be back with our squad but sad to learn that during my absence three members of our squad had been wounded while crossing a open field to attack a position located on a high hill in a wooded area.