The Taylor Barracks in Mannheim-Vogelstang are one of those locations that are not really abandoned, but have the looks and feel of a deserted place. Cleared by the US Army on August 30th 2011 the Taylor Barracks are now under the administration of the BIMA (Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben / Institute for Federal Real Estate), which has to decide what will happen to this former military base.
The Taylor Barracks, named after Private 1st Class Cecil V. Taylor who died in the last days of World War II and who posthumously received a Silver Star for courage in the face of the enemy, were built in 1939/40 by Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht as Scheinwerfer-Kaserne (Searchlight Barracks) – most likely because it was home to the Flakscheinwerfer-Abteilung 299 (299th Anti-aircraft Searchlight Detachment) to defend Mannheim from bombings. From April 1948 on many, many US Army units were stationed at the Taylor Barracks; way too many to name them all. In the early years most of them were Ordnance Companies and Engineer Companies, later on a lot of supply and service battalions found their homes in Mannheim-Vogelstang.
(Fun fact: When I told my dad, a musician basically all of his life, that I had a look at the Taylor Barracks he told me that he played there on the opening night of a military club. When he asked for a whiskey coke the bartender handed him half a gallon on Jim Beam! The 70s must have been an interesting time…)
In the summer of 2012 the Taylor Barracks stood there waiting for a new purpose. Most of the buildings were in pristine condition, only some metal started to rust here and there. Also in pristine condition was the fence around the 46ha big premises – about 2.5 meters high and secured by barbed wire there was no way to enter the closed base. In areas considered a special security risk, like fence sections with streetlights, additional rolls of razor tape were installed on top of the fence and / or on the ground. And so the exploration I hoped for turned into nothing more than just quite a long walk…