Kleber Kaserne Historical Background
Originally built for and named after the 23d Bavarian Infantry Regiment, the installation is still called the 23er Kaserne by the local German populace. When construction was completed in 1913, the 23d Regiment was on extended maneuvers east of Kaiserslautern. Following the outbreak of World War I, the regiment was immediately committed to battle und consequently never occupied the 23er Kaserne. Meanwhile, the 8th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment used the facility until the end of the war. Shortly after the armistice was signed in November 1918, French forces occupied the kaserne, including mountain infantry troops, a communications unit, and an Annamese (Vietnamese) motorized support unit.
The French forces did not depart until 1930, when prolonged diplomatic efforts to bring the Palatinate area under French sovereignty failed. During the early years of the subsequent economic depression era, the city of Kaiserslautern used the 23er Kaserne as a low income housing area. In 1935, after Adolph Hitler's rise to power, national service labor units engaged in land conservation projects occupied the installation.
The rapidly expanding German Army took over the kaserne in 1936. The 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment, of the Wehrmacht's 36th Infantry Division was stationed at 23er Kaserne, along with an artillery company and tank destroyer company. The 118th Regiment’s 2d Battalion occupied Daenner Kaserne (named in memory of the 23d Infantry Regiment's last commander) after it was constructed adjacent to 23er Kaserne in 1938, while the 3d Battalion was located at Landstuhl. The 36th Division headquarters was housed in four buildings on 23er Kaserne, fenced off from the rest of the installation. In September 1939, shortly after World War II began, the division departed for combat service in France. (In 1941 it was deployed to the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union and advanced as far as Leningrad before the Wehrmacht's retreat in 1943-44.)
Available records do not reflect the ensuing activities at 23er Kaserne from 1940 to 1945. Toward the end of World War II, US air attacks on military installations in Kaiserslautern inflicted extensive damage in the 23er Kaserne area.
After Germany’s surrender, French forces again occupied the kaserne on 6 July 1945. They renamed the installation Kleber Kaserne after General Jean Baptist Kleber, a prominent commander in the Napoleonic campaigns. In the early 1950s, US Army units moved into Kleber Kaserne and began reconstruction. Many buildings were replaced by new structures and others less damaged were renovated. A succession of various US Army units have since been stationed at the kaserne.
In July 1984, the city of Kaiserslautern designated 23 buildings on Kleber Kaserne as "ancient monuments" to preserve their historic architecture. US forces occupying the kaserne coordinate with city officials regarding repair or renovation projects on those buildings in order to maintain historical integrity in their exterior appearance.