By Gerald Morgenstern
Grafenwoehr, Germany — “Elvis was very, very friendly and courteous.” That’s how Gisela Zechmayer describes the King of Rock and Roll, whom she met when he was a young soldier training in Grafenwoehr. Accompanied by a camera team, the Culture – and Military Museum interviewed contemporaries at original locations on the training area to include barbers Peter Thometzki and Erich Götz.
Sixty years ago, Elvis came to Grafenwoehr for the first time to participate in an exercise. The Culture – and Military Museum Grafenwoehr uses this opportunity for a new special exhibition in the fall. Preparations have already begun. “Last year’s exhibition showed that there are still some knowledge gaps regarding Elvis’ stay. We try to close them by interviewing contemporaries, “ says Birgit Plößner, cultural manager in the museum.
Therefore, people who met Elvis in the Oberpfalz region are interviewed on camera about their encounters with the former soldier, if possible, at original locations. Gisela Zechmayer was lucky and met Elvis frequently in the record department of the shopping center on the training area. She was a sales assistant then, selling, among other things, his records. She was also a friend of Elisabeth Stefaniak, a German-American girl, who dated Elvis and who he took with him to Bad Nauheim where she became his secretary.
Peter Thometzki and Erich Götz are two other contemporaries who still work in the barber shop and cut the soldiers’ hair in Camp Algiers. Here, Thometzki saw Elvis walk by who stayed in one of the camp’s barracks. Both also claim to have seen Elvis in Micky’s Bar. Franz Zeilmann from the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria’s public affairs office arranged the visit and the shooting on the training area.
Robert Neuber and Thassilo Scharnagel of Panorama Video Production recorded the interviews with the contemporaries. Margit Ringer From Bayerischer Rundfunk radio also followed Elvis’ tracks. Contemporaries from Wies bus company in Weiden, the Golden Lamm restaurant in Hirschau were also interviewed about Elvis’ stay. The Culture – and History Museum Grafenwoehr is still looking for additional contemporaries who met Elvis in Grafenwoehr or elsewhere in the region and possibly have photos of their encounter or autographs from him. Contemporaries should call the museum at 09641-8501 or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.