Story and photos by Balmina Sehra
U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs
STUTTGART, Germany – Members of the Stuttgart Military Community got to peek behind the curtains of German politics and see how the “Bratwurst” is made.
The thirty person group were part of the Capital City Visitation Program (CCVP), Nov. 7, a tour that brings Americans to downtown Stuttgart and teaches them how the Baden-Württemberg Landtag (State Parliament) and Stuttgart city government work. It’s also the first tour since 2019.
“It’s really important to me that the U.S. military community gets a good understanding of our political system,” said Aaron Deppisch, state parliament advisor for visitor services. “Since they are our guests I want them to feel at home.”
During the state parliament visit, the group had the opportunity to take a seat in the Plenary Hall in which decisions of the parliament are made. After finding a volunteer who would “sit in” as the Parliamentarian President, Deppisch showed the attendees how positions within the parliament are chosen. The group then voted each other into leadership positions within the parliament.
“That was the highlight of my day,” says John O’Brien, a CCVP attendee, “to see my wife as the Landtag President.”
Rosario Celin, who was on her second tour in Stuttgart said, “this has given me a greater love for being in Europe, it’s so wonderful to see how we have merged together as a community.”
U.S. Forces Liaison Officer Baden-Württemberg Sean Schulze spoke about Germany’s political history and the unique role Stuttgart has played in the German-American friendship. He highlighted the “Speech of Hope,” which was delivered by U.S. Secretary of State James Francis Byrnes at the Stuttgart Opera House in 1946. Byrnes encouraged the German people to embrace democracy and join the free nations of the world. He also committed the American forces to Europe for as long as any other occupying powers remained in Germany – hinting at the growing division between the West and the Soviet Union.
During lunch, there was excited whispering at the table as the Parliamentarian President Muhterem Aras walked into the restaurant. Megan Young, who had just taken part in the group’s mock elections said, “it was really interesting having her walk in without any fanfare, it was just fun to catch a glimpse of her after we had just heard about her.”
After touring the sites around Stuttgart’s famous Schlossplatz, the program had come to its final stop, Stuttgart’s city Hall. Following the excitement of using the building’s paternoster elevators – the 19th Century, continuously moving, open-faced lifts – the attendees had the opportunity to sit down with the Mayor of Safety, Order and Sport, Clemens Maier. The group peppered him with questions about Stuttgart 21 – the city’s massive railroad overhaul, possible blackouts in Stuttgart and future education plans.
When asked if the Christmas Market would be canceled again this year.
“There may not be as many lights,” Maier said, “But it will definitely take place this year.”
To join the next CCVP tour in the upcoming Spring follow www.stuttgartcitizen.com