In the Office, OMGUS
Jan. 11, 1946
4:05 PM (1605)
At last Alice is returning from Wonderland through the looking glass and this note is mainly to announce my permanent mail address. All mail is sent here to the office.
ARTHUR B. HOLMES, D-259669
OFF. OF MILITARY GOV’T IN GERMANY (U.S.) Note: Spell out as shown.
APO #742, c/o POSTMASTER,
NEW YORK, N.Y.
I have just returned from taking my luggage to my permanent billet – 10 Irmgard Strasse, – from the temporary quarters I have been occupying for the past two nights. It will be a relief to be able to spread out my things where I can find them, instead of living out of a musette bag and duffle bag as I have since December 31, nearly two weeks ago. I shall get my permanent office to-morrow and am now occupying that of Joe Henderson (Lt. Col.), Col. Onthank’s Deputy, who is on leave in Switzerland.
I arrived in Berlin about noon on the 9th – day before yesterday after a comfortable train ride of 19 hours overnight from Frankfurt. It is enormously bewildering when one first arrives, – visits to the Billeting Office, the Visitors’ House, checking in with Personnel, making pay allotment, reporting per diem payment due the traveler, checking at Finance Office and changing money into invasion marks (one enclosed, worth 10¢), getting mess assignment, PX ration card, QM store ration card, currency control book, reporting for duty at the office, etc., but that is all behind me now and I’m beginning to feel at home.
No clear job responsibility exists for me as Heath (Col. Onthank, Personnel Officer of OMGUS and my boss) set up the title of Chief of Regulations and Procedures to cover a blanket responsibility to be later defined in detail. It will probably have a very broad interpretation. I’ll send you diagrams showing the organizational set-up of OMGUS in general and the Personnel Office in particular in a later letter. It was reorganized (OMGUS) in October, again on 5 Dec., and again on 1 Jan. and I’m now working to construct organizational details of the last shake up, how authority of tentative nature has just been received to reorganize again, moving all of the OMGUS functions to Berlin and leaving the parent organization USFET (U.S. Forces, European Theatre) in Frankfurt in the U.S. Zone. We must stay in Berlin because of the quadripartite nature of our allied organization (U.S., British, Russian & French).
As soon as I have my feet at a lower level than the rest of my body, though not yet firmly planted on the ground, Heath plans to send me on a comprehensive tour all through the U.S. Zone – an interesting prospect.
The first evening here I cocktailed (cognacked) with the group with whom I made the trip over. Yesterday I lunched with Heath and Pater dined with him and took in the movies – A Bell for Adano, which I had missed in the States.
I mess at Officers’ Mess #1 (there are five in the US area) at Harnack House, a lovely building about ¼ mile from the office and ¾ mile from my billet, formerly one of the buildings of Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. In it are dining room, an extensive grille (lunch & breakfast room), snack bar (during the day and bar in the evening), large main lounge which doubles as dance hall and movie theatre, and smaller lounge room. Also there are PX and Barber Shop for officers. My equivalent officer rating, by the way, for protocol purposes on the post and in travel status, is Lt. Col.
Everything is much better here than I had pictured it in advance and our immediate neighborhood does not show the extreme ruin and desolation which exists in other parts of the city. The Compound (OMGUS Hqtrs.) on the corner of Saargemünder Allée and Kronprinzen Allée is the original headquarters of the Luftwaffe. It consists of quite a large number of modern office buildings within a high wall. I am in the Command Building, headquarters of Gen. Lucius Clay, Deputy Military Governor ETO and head of OMGUS, – the former headquarters of Fats Göring. We are surrounded by an attractive suburban residence district, not too badly damaged in the main, occupied by US billets and the homes of Germans who still occupy them. All of the billets have central heating, hot water, modern plumbing, etc. My billet is a stucco and tile roofed home shared by a Col., and two of us civilians. We have comfortable, well-furnished bed rooms and share the downstairs living quarters. We have a German house keeper who does our pressing and washing and prepares breakfast for us.
But enough for this installment. I’m awaiting with great interest news from you folks, including the appearance of Secondus. Best of luck, sweetheart. I must get out now and get my blanket ration or I’ll sleep cold to-night.
‘Bye now – and lots of love. In future letters I’ll try to build the rest of the picture as it exists here.