Hagerstown mayor David S. Gysberts was speaking to visiting high school students from Germany when he told them that sometimes he wishes Hagerstown had a war to “clear out” old buildings. He made the comment after telling the students that he had seen photos of Wesel, the city in Germany the students were from, and he stated that it looked like Wesel has both old and new buildings. He theorized that the new buildings were a result of the war.
In truth Wesel doesn’t have any old buildings. Not really. The town was heavily bombed by Allied forces near the end of World War Two, destroying around 97 percent of the town’s structures. After the war, Wesel had to be entirely re-built.
I don’t know what’s worse: that the mayor of Hagerstown wishes our city had been a battleground or that he mentioned World War Two to a bunch of German high school students. It’s not like he is a stranger to speaking to young people. When he’s not carrying out his mayoral duties, Gysberts makes his living as a high school guidance counselor.
No matter how you look at it, it was an incredibly stupid and crass comment to make.