BG Frederick O. Hartel, commanded the Berlin Brigade at the time of President John F. Kennedy’s famous 1963
“Ich bin ein Berliner” Speech.
Brigadier General Frederick O. Hartel; a graduate of the USMA, graduating in 1933, a career army officer and veteran of WWII, took command of the Berlin Brigade just two days prior to the beginning of construction on the Berlin Wall on June 30, 1961. Gen. “Fritz” Hartel said, “when I arrived, refugees were coming through Check Point Charlie by the thousands every day.” All walks of life were represented by those escaping the Soviet dominated East Berlin, including doctors, lawyers, technicians, teachers, and skilled workers of all types, willing to leave behind everything to have their freedom in the West.
The situation was horrible, families were becoming separated as pressure mounted from politicians in West Germany and Berlin for American forces to remove the barricades, to which some of the American officers had made plans for moving into the East and knocking down the barriers with bulldozers. All of these plans were laid to rest by the brigade commander, stating that the communists had built these barriers feet inside of the East German Line, and any movement toward that end would place the Americans as the aggressors in this difficult predicament.
As the Cold War intensified, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, now over, had widen the chasm, President Kennedy went to Berlin, Germany in June of 1963 to make a speech in support of the West Berliners, as well against the Soviets major support of the construction of the Berlin Wall. On the 26th of that month Kennedy made his famous “Ich bin ein Berlin” speech, considered one of his best, before a huge supportive and enthusiastic crowd.
General Hartel accompanied the President that day of the speech to various places; one of course was a stand over-looking the newly constructed wall dividing the East from West.
This grouping consists of one of General Hartel’s summer uniforms, service visor cap, brigadier general’s officer flag, and two photo albums of assembled by the commander of the Berlin Police , and commander of the State Police both presented to Hartel in 1964.
General Hartel’s summer service dress uniform made by Carey’s of Baltimore (42-R) complete with all of the appropriate insignia. Having looked close at the three summer weight uniforms that were in the collection, this one by far looked to be the one Hartel was wearing the day he accompanied the President around Berlin. The ribbon bar on the uniform of this group are his ribbon bars directly embroidered onto tan cotton material then applied to the coat. The uniform insignia include a combat infantryman’s badge, General Staff badge, the Army Secretary of Defense badge, U.S. collar insignia, two brigadier general rank stars on leadership tabs, and US Army Europe shoulder sleeve insignia with Berlin tab. There are trousers with the coat. The coat is the best of the lot of 3 in the collection, in excellent condition. The pants are fine with but do have some moth issues (see photos). The green service dress cap is made by Luxenburg, NY, and is excellent condition. The shirt and tie are not included as they are not his.
Gen. Hartel’s brigadier general’s office flag. 3×4 with gold fringe, marked on the inside fly with contract marks, etc. I can see where is it made of part Rayon material. Excellent condition.
The first album is a larger format, from the Commander of the Police (signed) and presented to “Brigadier General Frederick O. Hartel, A reminder to your service in Berlin and the then thanks for the good cooperation between the Main Quarter of Berlin-Brigade and the Berlin Police.” The album contains over 70 images of the police commander, police, the Berlin Wall (including the famous photo of an East German soldier [guard] leaving his post and running past Check Point Charlie into the American Zone), President Kennedy’s visit, Rose and Ethel Kennedy, Willy Brandt, Berlin Brigade photos, famous places, much more.
The second album is presented as well from the Police President in Berlin, “In Memory of the Farewell visit by the Berlin Police on 23, June, 1964 (signed). The album contains 11 photos of the gathering of the two police officials getting together with Gen. Hartel, exchanging gifts to one another; these albums are the gifts from the two German officials. Gen. Hartel also made his own presentation of gifts to these gentlemen as well.
Both of the albums are in magnificent condition, and are a fabulous illustrated look at Hartel’s time in Berlin. The photos are of super quality; any flaws seen are the fault of your humble photographer ever declining the use of his glasses when performing such work.
Frederick O. Hartel, left Berlin in the summer of 1964 with is last assignment being at Fort Meade, Maryland as he was Chief of Staff, Second Army, and when the 2nd consolidated with the 1st Army shortly after, Hartel continued on as the Chief of Staff of the combined headquarters. He retired in 1966 and made his home in Williamsburg, Va.
Prior to his retirement he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, “The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Army Distinguished Service Medal to Brigadier General Frederick O. Hartel (ASN )-19254), United States Army, for exceptional meritorious and distinguished service to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility, during the period from June 1961 through July 1964.”
Please look at the other listings on the site for more of Gen. Hartel’s personal belongings.
Side note: General Hartel’s last overseas assignment was Berlin; it was my first oversea duty. General Hartel’s last assignment was Fort Meade, Maryland, it was my first….appearance, born there. I spent a year in the Berlin Brigade, in “A” Co. 4th Bn, 6th Infantry….it was for me a fabulous experience growing up away from home in an old world city, rich in history (good and bad). I spent a week at Spandau Prison, guarding the only Nazi in captivity….Rudolph Hess.
USPS Priority Mail $25.00