Dr. Alfred W. Beerbaum
Alfred Beerbaum was born in Germany in 1914, and emigrated with his parents to the USA in 1928. He graduated from Wilby HS in Waterbury, CT and earned his BA from Colby College in 1938.
Al was teaching German at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor when the opportunity came to join the new overseas schools in 1946. Having served in the Pacific during WWII, he leaped at the chance to see the other side of the globe. The Army Transport ship Rodman carried him to Bremerhaven, Germany, and three days later teachers trained to Frankfurt in the American Occupation Zone of West Germany. The city was rubble as far as the eye could see.
Though hired to teach high school English and history, this changed when school planners decided German should be taught at all levels, and by local German teachers. Al became the coordinator of this program, helping to establish policies and develop procedures for acquiring suitable teaching materials. He was assigned to the 7755th Dependent Schools Detachment(DSD) and moved to Heidelberg. This concept would eventually become known as the Host Nation program.
Al began by visiting schools in the American Zone and Berlin to work as a liason between German teachers and their American principals. The red tape of getting to Berlin by train through the Russian Occupation Zone was, to say the least…interesting! In 1948 the 7755th DSD moved to Karlsruhe, which eventually became the hub for the schools in Europe until 1979.
In June 1949, Al married Martha Lofberg of Chicago, who was working at the Civilian Personnel Office. They were married in the chapel of Heidelberg Castle and returned that year to the US: Al to earn his doctorate at New York University, and Martha to begin their family, numbering two sons.
Al returned to teaching at the University of Michigan, and in 1956 returned overseas, with family in tow. He spent two years at headquarters for the Air Force schools in Wiesbaden, and nine years at headquarters for the Army schools in Karlsruhe. In 1967 an offer came from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA for a staff position in course development and classroom evaluation. Al was there for 13 years, retiring in 1980 in Pacific Grove, CA. In 1999 he and Martha celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary, which included five grandchildren among the guests.
For an indepth look at the early days and Host Nation program, refer to the Alfred Beerbaum collection in the AOS archives.
The paver honoring Alfred and the other early educators can also be viewed by returning to the alpha roster and highlighting The Magnificent Seven.
Prepared by Alfred W. Beerbaum,2001