Story and photos by Holly DeCarlo-White
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office
The U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart and U.S. Forces Liaison Office for the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg hosted the quarterly Capital City Visitation Program on June 22, 2015. The Capital City Visitation Program provides the opportunity to see the city of Stuttgart in a different light and to learn what important role Americans have played in Stuttgart.
The program is free and open to all members of the USAG Stuttgart community interested in gaining a better understanding about the history and government of Germany and Stuttgart. Attendees visit places that are normally not open to the public, including the State Parliament.
The in-depth tour was guided by Stephanie Cleaton of USAG Stuttgart community relations, and ran the full day departing from Panzer Kaserne at 8:30 a.m., returning by 5:00 p.m. Despite the rain and cold that moved in in the afternoon, the city tour continued on, packed with German history and stories.
Tour of the State Parliament: The tour began at the art exhibition hall Kunstgebäude, which serves now as the interim parliament building. Tour participants sat in the same seats that today’s German party representatives do as they reenacted examples of political functions. Attendees learned the interworking of the political system within Germany’s 16 states experiencing how motions are passed, voting occurs between parties and elections of representatives, and how decisions are communicated out to be enforced to the general public.
Speech of Hope presentation: The group moved upstairs to the top floor meeting room which overlooks the center of Stuttgart. The presentation began with a historic slideshow and video demonstration given by Sean Schulze and Matthias Berger of the U.S. Forces liaison office on the Speech of Hope. “Stuttgart played a major role in German/American relations after World War II.”, explained Schulze.
The show included impactful photographs and footage of the Stuttgart area after the war through it’s time of rebuild many years later. The informative session gave wonderful insight and understanding to the important relationship and future partnership between the U.S. and Germany.
An excerpt from the Speech of Hope given by U.S. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes on September 6, 1946 in Stuttgart, “The freedom Americans believe in and fought for is a freedom which must be shared with all willing to respect the freedom of others.”
Lunch provided at Tempus Restaurant at the House of History: Following the presentation, the group was taken to a nearby restaurant for lunch to discuss and absorb all of the information. A traditional German lunch was provided complimentary, offering local courses such as a salad, breaded pork Schnitzel with potato salad and dessert. A vegetarian option was also available.
Downtown walking tour: After lunch, the history lessons and stories continued walking from the State Theater over to old Stuttgart, toward City Hall. To get out of the rain, an early stop to the Stuttgart’s “Markthalle,” or market hall was made for attendees to take a break and shop the indoor market. Market Hall in Stuttgart is an Art Nouveau building in the city center of Stuttgart. The market hall is a popular shopping site with about 5,000 square meters of retail space and offers numerous vendors with local and international produce, meats, cheese’s, wines and wares with additional shops and a restaurant on the second floor.
Reception at City Hall (Rathaus): With a chance to ride in the continuously revolving elevator called the paternoster lift up to the 4th floor reception area, attendees were welcomed with a glass of “Sekt,” or sparkling wine, with orange juice. Mayor Dr. Martin Schairer of public order and law for the city of Stuttgart met the group for an introduction and open question and answer session, followed by a short welcome video about the city of Stuttgart. Hot topics of interest included issues in the Stuttgart area such as heavy traffic through the city, Germany’s acceptance of refugees from various locations in need, expanding housing opportunities and more.
“The relationship between the Americans and Germany is very important to our city. The military bases provide many jobs to the local community and we are happy that the American presence will continue for many years to come.” said Schairer.
For information on the next Capital City Visitation tour, follow the StuttgartCitizen.com.
Sign up is open to all ID card holders age 14 and up. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Subject line: “CCVP Sign-up.”
View the photo album here.