Sunday, January 17, 2016

Our Year in Germany

November 1968-October 1969

Great Friends who made it happen.....

Dieter Anschutz
Else and Konrad Pfeil ✝ of Aubing
Late in November of 1968, just one month after the Mexico City Olympic Games, Gary and Ruth Ann flew from NYC to Munich to spend one year in Germany.    Dieter Anschütz, President of the Anschütz gun-making firm, learned about Gary and Ruth Ann’s plans to live in Munich for a year following the 1968 Olympic Games.  During the Games in Mexico City, he spoke with Konrad Pfeil about this.   Konrad was the Shützenmeister (Club President) of the largest shooting club in Munich, the Hauptschützengellschaft (HSG).  Konrad quickly contacted Gary and offered his assistance in making necessary arrangements.  His most gracious assistance included contacting the office of the Mayor of Munich to obtain a subsidized, furnished apartment in the Munich suburb of Aubing.  Konrad also invited Gary to become a member of his club.  Konrad and Else and the HSG members made sure that Gary and Ruth Ann were invited to participate in all of the shooting club events, traditions and celebrations that took place during the year.  


Gary and Ruth Ann ordered a 1969 VW Square-back  in the States to be delivered in Luxembourg upon our arrival in Europe on November 26.    Ruth Ann's notes indicate the car held 10.5 gallons and gas was 61 cents a gallon in Germany  (The average price of gas in the USA in 1969 was 30 cents a gallon).   The car was shipped back to the states after our year in Germany; we finally got rid of this car after 300,000 miles and traded it for a color TV!

Language School

After picking up the car, Gary and Ruth Ann traveled to Degerndorf/ Brannenburg, a small community southeast of Munich, near the Austrian border, to study German for two months at a Goethe Institute language school.  The first day of class included an orientation and introduction in English -- after that it was totally immersion; everything was in German!    There were about 80 students in the class from 30 nations, including Turkey, Israel and Pakistan.

The Village of Deggendorf.   The circle on
the post card is the home where we lived.

Teacher - Frau Peralta
The Goethe Institute Classroom building

When language school was finished, The Andersons moved to Munich into a 3-room apartment secured by Konrad Pfeil in the suburb of Aubing that cost $42 a month  (the exchange rate then was 4 Marks to the Dollar).      Shopping within walking distance included a market, a pharmacy, a flower shop, a stationery store, drug store, bakery, shoe shop, beauty shop, clothing store and cleaners.

Else and Konrad Pfeil

Konrad and Else Pfeil fostered us for the year we were in Germany.    While our apartment was being secured in Aubing, we stayed with the Pfeil's in a tiny office room that they converted to a bedroom.   When we did get the apartment, it was furnished with furniture loaned by a furniture store in Aubing and owned by the Pfeil family.  The only thing we had to rent was a refrigerator!  We often went to the Haupt with the Pfeils and spent many delightful weekends and evenings with them in their home.  Travel included one trip to their     winter home in Davos, Switzerland.  

Konrad and Else were also watching after Konrad's niece, Klara "Stutzi' Pfeil.  She was a promising junior shooter.  Stutzi's father died that year and we attended the funeral in Aubing.  After the funeral, everyone went to Fischmüllers  (restaurant and air rifle club) for Leberknödelsuppe (liver dumpling soup).  

On Christmas Day, Else prepared a goose, which was followed up by a stomach clearing Schnapps.      After dinner we went downtown Munich and walked all over while a  beautiful soft snow fell.   


In 1969 we had no emails, iPhones, texting or computers.    To keep our family informed of our travels and experiences, Ruth Ann organized a “Round Robin” system to send hand written letters to family members who passed them along to each other.    Her mother kept them in a scrapbook along with picture postcards.   Much of the information about "Our Year in Germany" comes from these letters.   We bought copies of Time and Newsweek in a Bahnhof (train station) to keep up with the news back home and eventually bought a transistor radio so we could pick up The Armed Forces Network for news.

The Hauptschützengesellschaft

One of the great highlights of the year was our involvement in the life of the Hauptschützengellschaft (Haupt or HSG).   Gary became a club member and we experiences an entire year of wonderful shooting traditions.  The full formal name of the club is Königliche Priviligierte Hauptschützengesellschaft München 1406.   That translates to something like "royal sanctioned main shooting society in Munich, founded in 1406."    The Haupt celebrated its 600th anniversary in 2006.

Every year, on the first of January, the Haupt holds its annual Königschiessen (Shooting King) match.     Every club member is allowed to shoot one shot at a special target.    The person with a shot nearest the exact center is declared the Schützenkönig (Shooting King) and gets to wear the club's Königskette (King's Chain).  Literally, a Kette is a chain, but this huge collar on which annual Shooting Kings, off and on since the 1500's, have mounted silver medallions or figures as mementoes of their year as the king.  The Shooting King is the honorary representative of the club and wears the Königskette for festival parades like the Oktoberfest parade.  The Haupt's Köninskette is so valuable that it is kept in a bank vault except when it comes out for these special occasions. 

Gary with the Schützenkönig
from the Haupt 1969

During our year in Germany, we went to the Haupt every weekend when we were in Munich.  The Haupt shooting program supported ISSF 50m events as well as traditional German “national” events, like 100m standing with a “Scheibengewehr,” which was essentially a “standard rifle.”  No hook butt-plate or palm rest was allowed.  The club offered small prize shoots in these events every week with awards for scores and best center shots.  Gary especially enjoyed the 100m standing event because it combined standing shooting with the challenges of shooting in the wind at 100 meters.

The Haupt had many festivals and celebrations through the year.   One that is not common in the USA is Fasching - a pre-Lenten Mardi Gras or Carnival, that starts on the 11th day of November at exactly 11 minutes after 11am and ends at the stroke of midnight on Faschingdienstag (Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday).  Fasching is a great festival of merriment and comedy.  The Haupt had a Faschingball on Faschingdienstag; everyone came in costumes.

The Andersons attended the Fasting Ball at the Haupt
as an American Cowboy and Indian

Until 1969, the HSG had never had any strong competition teams, but they had some promising young shooters and after a year of training with Gary, the HSG became one of the dominant shooting clubs in Germany.  

At the end of the year in Munich, the Haupt honored Gary by organizing an Abschiedfeier (farewell celebration).  The celebration included a daylong prize shoot, the unveiling of a commemorative Ehrenscheibe (target of honor) and an evening of eating and drinking.  For the Gary Anderson Ehrenscheibe, the club commissioned German artist Ernst Stierhof to paint his portrait on a tradition round wooden target.  Stierhof had been a WWII German soldier who learned to paint at a POW camp in Texas, “because there was nothing else to do.”  After the war he perfected his skills and became a well-known portrait artist.  The honor of being memorialized on an Ehrenscheibe is usually reserved for someone who has been a club member for 50 years. The names of everyone who shot in the prize shoot that day were painted on the target.  This wooden target hangs in the Haupt today.  The Haupt also gave Gary a special gold coin.

After Gary and Ruth Ann returned to the USA the Haupt General Assembly, in 1974, honored Gary by electing him as an Ehrenmitglied (Honorary Member) of the club.  Only a few people in the club's 609-year history have received that honor. 

Aubinger Schützenverein

Tuesday evenings in Aubing were often spent at the Aubinger Schützenverein (Aubing Shooting Club) at Fischmüllers.  Fischmüllers was a local restaurant and pub that had a 10m airgun range attached to it.  The combination restaurant/pub/shooting range supported three local airgun clubs.  Evenings with the Aubinger Schützen included air rifle (Gary) or air pistol (Ruth Ann) shooting plus a Brotzeit or dinner, beer and lots of great conversation.  There were no restrictions against smoking in public places in Germany then so by the end of these evenings the ‘blue haze’ had descended from the ceiling down to table level or lower.

The Aubing Shooting Club's Schützenmeister and
Vice Schützenmeister with Gary

Travels Through the Year

After Gary and Ruth Ann finished language school and moved to Munich, many days were spent at the Haupt for training, or traveling to club prize shoots all over Bavaria with Konrad Pfeil (visiting other club’s prize shoots was one of the obligations of the Schützenmeister).  We also spent a lot of time traveling throughout Europe, mostly in response to invitations from shooting organizations or shooting friends.   Here are quick summaries of most of these excursions.


Röttenbach - to attend a Festabend (festival evening) celebrating the club's 40th anniversary.  The club presented Gary with an Honorary Membership Pin.    A local seamstress in town made Ruth Ann a Dirndl, or national dress of Bavaria.  It had a white blouse, a simple bodice with a full skirt of a blue and black print, and two aprons, one blue and one orange.

Nürnberg - a city famous for toy manufacturing.   We went to the Chriskindermarkt (Christmas Market) in December.  Then Nürenberg had the only big Christmas market; now many German cities have them.  We returned to Nürnberg  in May  to attend a celebration for the German Olympic medal winners by the RWS Dynamit Nobel Company.    Gary was presented with two gold coins and a biography of Alfred Nobel.  The coins were thank you/recognition gifts for using RWS ammunition in winning two 1966 World Championships. We went back to the Nürenberg area again in late summer when Gary was invited to go on a Roebuck hunt with one of the German shooters.

Gary and Ruth Ann with the President
of the RWS Company
The two gold coins presented to Gary
by the Dynamit Nobel Company.
"In Anerkennung" means "in recognition
Friedrichshafen am Bodensee - an club excursion with the Haupt visiting a shooting club there and included a visit  to Ludwig's famous Neuschwainstein.

Oberammergau - a magical,, picturesque city that is home of the famous Passion Play presented every 10 years.  When we visited, it was not the year for the play.

Altmannstein - we were invited by the local shooting club to march in a celebratory parade through town.    Gary fired one shot into a wooden target that was specially painted to commerated our visit.

Gary fires one shot into a wooden target.

Anderson march in a Schützenzug
(Shooters' Parade) in Altmannstein

Berchtesgaden- Notoriously known as the location of Hitler's Eagle's Nest, we visited Berchtesgaden as guests of the American Rod and Gun Clubs who were having their convention there.    Gary gave a demonstration on air gun shooting.
Dachau - One of Hitler's main extermination concentration camps, the first of the concentration camps opened in Germany.

Ulm -We spent one week with Dieter and Elfi in Ulm; Gary went hunting with Dieter and many businessmen in Ulm for a traditional Treibjagd (hunting drive) hosted by the Anschütz factory.   Firewood for the end of the hunt bonfire was reject gunstocks.      The shooting club of Ulm invited Gary to present a clinic on shooting positions and training (auf Deutsch, natürlich!).

Gary with some of the shooters from the Ulm club.
Raubling - only five miles from where we went to language school, Gary was invited to shoot in a "prize shoot."  499 shooters competed over a two week period and over 150 merchandise prizes were awarded.   
This picture is inside a typical air rifle club.  
Almost always, the clubs have an adjacent restaurant

that serves beer and meals.
The President of the Shooting Club in Raubling
gave us a specially hand painted wooden plate
to commemorate our visit.
Weyarn - this was the objective of an excursion with the language school students; also visited the Deutsche Museum in Munich.

Wiesbaden - Gary appeared on a sportsman's TV show. 

During the show, Gary was challenged by the
Sport Show Moderator (right) to shoot one
shot with his eyes covered.  He shot an "8."
Oberndorf - Home of the Feinwerkbau firearms company.
Strasbourg - A village in the Black Forest area famous for making clocks and watches 

Frankfurt - to attend a trophy championship football (soccer) game

Stuttgart - to visit a Klaus Zähringer, a shooter who was on the German Olympic team in Mexico City
Bremevörde - to visit Bernd Klingner, 50m Rifle Gold Medalist, Mexico City


Bruggs - to visit Dr. and Mrs. Franc LaFortune.    Dr. LaFortune was a Belgian shooter and issued the invitation for us to visit Belgium.
A woman making lace by hand in Belgium.  
It takes four days to lace four sides of a

Tivoli Gardens- just to visit

Copenhagen - Paul Glesner, the President of the Danish Shooting Federation, and his wife invited us to their home in Copenhagen.

Paul Glesner, left with Gary and Ruth Ann.
The rifle is a Danish Army Rifle.    

Gary competed in the Nordic Championship with the U. S.Army Team in Olso - Ruth Ann stayed in Munich.


Two visits - the second one was to investigate Gary's Swedish heritage at the Säby church near Tranås.  The Säby church was founded around 1200 shortly after Sweden began to convert to Christianity.  Gary's grandfather was baptized there at the age of 14 before he emigrated to the USA.

During our visit to Tranås, we bought this crystal vase and gave it to Gary's Aunt Ellen, who
admired and kept it for many years.    Before her death, she returned it to us.

We visited Swedish shooter Sven Johnannsson in February in Skillingaryd.  Sven invited us to visit him and his family.  Gary knew Sven from when he came to Fort Benning to train.  During this visit, he taught Gary how to cross country ski.  Sven later won a bronze medal in the 50-meter rifle three position event at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.



Neuhausen - to visit the SIG company, manufacturer of Swiss Army rifles 
Gary tries out a pistol at the SIG
manufacturing company in
Neuhausen, Switzerland July 1968
Meiningen - to visit the local shooting club

Oberempfeld - Gary was invited to shoot a 60 shot standing crossbow match and placed 7th. 

Thun - Gary participated in the Eidgenössisches Schützenfest, the great Swiss federal shooting festival that takes place every five years.   92,000 shooters participated in the 1969 Eidgenössisches.  The national sport in Switzerland is target shooting and Gary was well known all over the country.  Thousands of shooters were on the range every day (it lasted 10 days).  Gary was featured in the opening parade through downtown Thun and shot in some of the competitions.  The first day he arrived at the range hundreds of young register keepers (one was assigned to every firing point) abandoned their posts to get Gary’s autograph.  That stopped the shooting and didn’t make him real popular with the older shooters.  Most of the program was prize shooting in the kneeling position, but there was a 300 meter 3x20 event where Gary shot a 590 x 600, an unheard of score in those days.  

The range at Thun, Switzerland
Davos -  Ski resort town, visited by Gary and Ruth Ann with the Pheil's

Davos, Switzerland 1968

Dornburn - to visit a former German shooter and her Austrian husband.  The family operated a textile manufacturing factory in Dornbirn. 


Fügen - Guests of an Australian shooter 

Feldkirch - to shoot in a traditional Austrian prize shoot.  Austrian prize shoots were fired in the prone position at 100 yards, without a sling.

South Africa

Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, and Pretoria - Gary received an invitation to attend the South African Games to shoot in their "little Olympics" (all sports) by Bassie Human, the President of the South African Smallbore Rifle Association.  The trip included a visit with Prime Minister Forster, a photo safari in Kruger National Park and one day spent live trapping young (1000 pound) elephants with South African game management experts.  Ruth Ann remained in Munich.


Bucharest- Gary accompanied theU.S. Army team to participate in a major international competition there with 18 Eastern and Western European countries.

Czech Republic

Pilsen (Prague) - Gary was invited to participate (out of competition) in the European Championships as a special guest of the European Shooting Confederation.  He marched alone in the opening ceremony behind the USA flag to tremendous applause from the crowd.  This Championship took place one year after Soviet tanks invaded Czechoslovakia to put down the “Prague Spring” rebellion.  The situation there was very tense and conditions were austere.  The hotel restaurant ran out of food more than once.  At this Championship, we joined our Mexican friends Olegario Vazquez Rãna and his wife, and Jesus Elizondo and his wife.  They invited us to visit them at Olegario’s ancestral home in Vigo, Spain.

Gary and Ruth Ann in Pilzen for the
European Championships 1969

Pilzen, Czech Republic


Barcelona and Vigo -- We were guests of Olegario and Gela Vazquez first in Vigo in Northwest Spain and then in Barcelona in the Northeast.  During a match in Vigo, Gary shot a kneeling score of 399 using a “standard rifle.”  This trip came at the end of our year in Germany so Gary had already shipped his 50m match rifle home and the only rifle he had left was the 50m standard rifle that he used to shoot 100m standing matches at the Haupt.

The kneeling targets shot in a match
at Vigo Spain that scored 399

Gary and Ruth Ann at a banquet in
Vigo, Spain 1969
On that trip, Gary also competed in an international competition in Barcelona with national teams from Spain, Portugal and Mexico.  On September 19, 1969, Gary fired his last match before retiring from active international competition.  His score in that match was 1182 (399 prone, 390 standing, 393 kneeling).  That was the first competition score in the world to break 1180.  
Gary wrote in his diary that he was nervous at this match because he wanted to break 1180.  His last shot kneeling was a 10.  This was his last diary entry (first diary entry May 1958).

The targets from this match are now on display at the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center, Camp Perry, Ohio, USA. 
Our year in Germany gave us so many extraordinary experiences, memories and friendships.  Special thanks are due to Konrad and Else Pfeil for making it all possible.  Konrad and Else put us on the train when we left to return to the States (our car had been previously shipped).  Else gave Ruth Ann this 1789 Bavarian Coin as a remembrance of our year together:

The End

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