British soldiers march out of Osnabrück after 63 years
Around 3,000 British soldiers are leaving their garrison in Osnabrück, marking the historic departure with a farewell parade on Saturday.
The Fourth Brigade will be moved to the UK, after having maintained a constant British military presence in Lower Saxony since the end of the Second World War. At one point Osnabrück was the biggest British military base outside the UK.
“We came as occupiers, became partners and later friends,” Mike Whitehurst, spokesman for the army said. He said the move was part of a global reorganization of British forces in light of changing military circumstances.
The British army employs around 500 German civilians in Osnabrück, some of whom will be found work at other bases in the country, while the rest will receive retraining and financial help. The town itself will certainly feel the difference that the departure of the British soldiers and their families will make, mayor Boris Pistorius admitted.
But he told local press he was focused on making the best possible use of the 160 hectares of land which will become free once the troops have gone. It was announced last September that just 15,000 of the 22,500 British troops then stationed in Germany, would remain after the reorganization.
The bases at Bergen-Hohne, Bad Fallingbostel, Celle and Hamlin will remain in Lower Saxony, while North Rhine-Westphalia will keep the British bases at Gütersloh and Paderborn.