Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with William Primosch
Q: You were in the finance unit, so you weren't going to be on the front line, but was there the feeling that the Soviets might move at any time?
PRIMOSCH: No, there wasn't. There were, however, exercisethey called them “alerts” every month on a date that was not known in advance. We would get a call that said, “This is an alert” and you would simulate what you would do if there was an invasion. For the people in the administrative unit, you would just to go your office. But the combat troops would get in their tanks and trucks and go out on maneuvers for two or three days to simulate a response to a Russian attack. However, everyone was more focused on what was happening in Vietnam than the possibility of a Soviet invasion.
The military at that time was very different than the military now in terms of morale and professionalism. The morale was terrible. The enlisted men for the most part didn't want to be there. There was strong opposition to the war. Racial tensions were very high. There were a lot of fights between black and white soldiers and just a sense of palpable tension.
Q: On this black-white thing, were there black areas, gasthauses where one went and there were white areas? Were things pretty de facto segregated?
PRIMOSCH: I think there was pretty much de facto segregation. I was married at the time, so I didn't go out to gasthauses (i.e., local bars). But I think the Army reflected society at large. People tended to congregate racially among themselves. Of course, it wasn't much different than growing up in Cleveland, which was is a very segregated city. That's the way people lived then.
Q: You mentioned you were married. You and your wife grew up together?
PRIMOSCH: Yes. In fact, we went to grade school together and knew each other since then, although we didn't date until college. We have very similar kinds of backgrounds.
Q: Was she able to come to Germany?
PRIMOSCH: Yes. She came to Germany shortly after I got there. She was at Kent State University and had left to go to Germany just a couple of weeks before the shootings there. She is a teacher by training and did some teaching at the University of Maryland's extensions on the bases.