Herzogenaurach, Germany: Medieval Roots, with a Modern Outlook

Herzogenaurach, a charming town in Middle Franconia, Germany has a rich history as a significant medieval center and it also takes pride in its more recent status as a site of a United States Army base.

herzo-18-city-tower-1The historic center is known primarily for its half-timber homes and numerous medieval structures which have been in continuous use for centuries. Written records for Herzogenaurach date back to the 11th Century, and two towers from the Middle Ages still stand, the Fehnturm and Türmersturm. Many historic half-timbered houses have been well preserved, the oldest dating back to the middle of the 15th Century. Typically, wealthy inhabitants built their homes entirely of stone, but for the majority of Herzogenaurach residents, housing constructed with walls of timber filled in with clay was a more economical approach. A more extravagant building still stands within the city, a Baroque castle built in 1720 at the request of the Prince-Bishop.

herzo-9-old-town-church-altar-2Herzogenaurach, with its long tradition as a fervently Catholic town, proudly features St. Magdalena, an historic church containing a Baroque altar and painted wooden vaults described as some of the most impressive in all of Franconia. Catholic holidays and festivals are held with great flair and spectacle. During the festivals, statues of various saints are marched through the streets to commemorate feast days and other religious holidays. These events typically draw attendees and spectators from across the region.

herzo-13-house-of-year-1488Herzogenaurach served a more recent historic role as home to a Deutsche Luftwaffe air base before and during World War II, and as an American military base immediately following the war until 1992. Many U.S. military bases sprung up across Bavaria and the whole of West Germany during the second half of the 20th Century. Herzogenaurach stood out, however, as having a very active and progressive German-American Club. As a consequence, the town celebrates cultural events significant for both countries, such as Fourth of July cook-outs and Oktoberfest festivities.

herzo-16-doctors-old-houseThe city is home to two of the world’s largest sportswear companies, Adidas and Puma. Brothers Adolf (Adi) and Rudolf (Rudi) Dassler began manufacturing athletic shoes in the 1920s, even equipping several athletes in the 1928 and 1936 Olympic games. Following a falling out in 1948, the brothers ended their collaboration and created their own companies. Adi formed Adidas while Rudi initiated Puma. Both companies still maintain their headquarters in Herzogenaurach as well as large factory outlet stores. Locals, regional residents, and tourists travel to these outlets to shop for sportswear items at discounted prices.

Iherzo-22-old-sign-3n addition to the draw of historic structures and the shopping centers of Adidas and Puma, many visitors from across Bavaria come to Herzogenaurach for recreation activities. One of the many attractions is Atlantis, a water park frequented by children and adults alike. Waterslides and wave pools draw hundreds of visitors during the warmer months, while sauna facilities and thermal pools are popular during the bleak German winter. Herzogenaurach also boasts a golf course (considered a luxury by many Germans), tennis courts, and many other outdoor sporting opportunities.

Herzogenaurach, like many towns in the Franconia region, is a charming, well preserved hamlet. But its significance today is clearly centered on its recent service as a military base and the birthplace of two huge sporting goods companies. Visitors to Herzogenaurach are routinely impressed with the seamless melding of a multi-layered historical past and its forward-looking present.

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  1. irma perea says

    my husband and i were station i herzo base in 1981 to 1984 and i fel in love with the town . love to go back some day

  2. Robert M. Hicks says

    I was stationed at herzo base from 1987-1991 and saw alot of great things. The fall of the Berlin wall and the gulf war. I was a radio teletype operator statined with the 2/12th field artilery.
    I drove bus for the 2/10th brigade. if you flew to the sand from germany I put you on the plane from nuremberg. I was know as ralph krammedon’s evil twin. Now I sell hardware for a living at a little lumber yard. I hope to here from a few friends i use to know like rob perez,sandy jacobson,damion latrace,matt brodycz, jason cordell,josehp ruben,and the fred sanford like team cheif of mine.
    And my very special freind of mine sfc, larry abel who I used to call dad. And a very special call out to my friend medic carl evey, My Other special buds Tom Brenan. and othe others like sgt bimbry.ac williams and a cast of many. mI miss all of you guys and hope for a reunion soon.

  3. Jim Chrz says

    I was stationed at Herzo with the 318th ASA from 1964 to 1967. I learned to love warm beer and to stay far away from strawberry wine!
    It’s a shame that Herzo Base and the ASA are both tote

  4. Morgen Young says

    Thank you for all the comments. I also have military connections to Herzo. My father was stationed with the 318th ASA from 1968 to 1970. He met my German mother while in Herzo. Her family still lives in and around the town, which is how I became so familiar with Franconia.

  5. Bob Wyllie says

    Jim, what did you do at Herzo?  I was here from 1965 to 1966 — and am visiting it right now.  Sorry to see everything gone — but nice to see it is remembered with all the “Herzo Base” signs.  Adidas and Puma have made this town a different place — not much that I remember is still left.  It’s not a sleepy medievil town any more.  I was a volunteer fireman but worked on the Czech mission — lived in the fire house.  We should know of each other ???
    Bob Wyllie (I live in Florida — where do you live – what did you do while in Herzo?

  6. Bob wyllie says

    We are here visiting Herzo — shame the base is gone — hard to find much I recognize. I was here in 1965 to 1967 — volunteer fireman and worked in Operations on the Czech mission.  Housed at the fire station. It is not a sleepy medievil town any more — Adidas and Puma have put it on the map!  Bob Wyllie (Sarasota, FL)

  7. Bob Franklin says


    I was at Herzo Base from 65 to 68. I was on C trick most of the time, but was sent TDY four times, so I kind of came and went. I worked the GC mission under DW Mann and Sgt Gawley.

  8. Dennis says

    I worked at ops from May 1970 until my group moved to Augsburg sometime in late 1971. Worked as B trick chief for tty repair, and lived first off base, and then moved to quarters in 1971 (to qualify for government quarters in Augsburg). My son was born in Nurnberg Army Hospital in 1971. It was a beautiful place, and we’ve always been grateful I was assigned there.

  9. Dale Hughes says

    I was stationed there from late 65 to early 69. Tdy to Schneeberg, Monteith, and Kassel areas. We lived in mil housing just outside the front gates in the edge of Herzo. MOS was 98J40. We were at Schneeberg for most of the time, living in Mil housing in Bayreuth.

  10. Krista Tomas says

    I was the Australian wife of an American soldier, stationed at Herzo in the early to mid 1970’s
    I had a son Sean born in Nurnberg and two other children Natasha and Kim born earlier in other countries.
    I have lovely memories of the town Herzo and friends I made and mixed memories of military life. Would love to catch up with anyone who remembers us as a family.

  11. Harold Cancienne says

    I was stationed at Herzo Base in 1973 and 74. Went back three years ago and was amazed how the place has changed. Other than a couple buildings that are part of the Adidas headquarters, the base is unrecognizable. I was able to fine the house my wife and I rented the second store in.

  12. Gene Brownell says

    I was stationed with the 318th ASA in Herzogenaurach from January, 1970 to January 1972. I lived off-base at 23 Bergstaller Weg with my spouse. We loved the town and the towers. A bit of a confession; I have the key to one of the towers! I had forgotten this fact until I saw the photos of the towers. I will have to look and see where it’s actually located in our home storage area. I “liberated” the key while walking the main avenue after an evening of beer and brats in one of the local establishments. I and two other GI’s were walking along the street and I saw the key yet in the main door to the tower closest to Herzo Base. What was one to do? Well anyway, it’s still in my possession!

  13. Larry Crow says

    I was at Herzo in 1963-64, on the Czech mission. Spent last days tdy at Hohenbogen.
    Went back last fall with Herzo vets tour. Spent two days in Prague, a lovely town.
    Germany is still lovely and is more prosperous, the economic leader of Europe.
    I was happy to see that the people have gotten past the shame they felt after the Hitler era. I didn’t know but it took 65 years after the war to rebuild the main church in Wurzburg.
    Good and beer still delicious as ever !

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