Local news translated – Dec. 21, 2023

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Dec. 21, 2023

Farmers block B10 from Vaihingen/Enz to Stuttgart –  The details to Thursday’s tractors demonstration

200 tractors are to roll from Pulverdingen – a hamlet near Markgröningen – all the way to Stuttgart on Thursday morning. At least that is the plan of the farmers, who have announced a demonstration including a large rally for the morning. The route will take them along the B10, which is why the city of Stuttgart, and the police are warning of traffic disruptions.  According to the police, there will be corresponding restrictions between 8 and 10 am. The city of Stuttgart has announced that a parade will start at 9.30 a.m. from Cannstatter Wasen to the Ministry of Agriculture (Kernerplatz). A rally will then take place starting at 10.30 am. “During talks today, Tuesday, the organizers agreed to limit the number of vehicles for the parade and the subsequent rally to 150. The reason for this is to keep the necessary rescue lanes free for access to the Kernerviertel”, according to a statement from the city of Stuttgart.

In the meantime, the remaining vehicles are to remain on the Wasen grounds. Overall, the city of Stuttgart is expecting traffic disruptions until around 2 p.m. and is calling on people to use buses and trains if possible.

Over the past few days, there have been repeated protests by farmers in various German cities. The background to the demonstrations is the planned end to tax concessions – for example for diesel – in agriculture. The plan is part of the savings plans in the 2024 federal budget. Agriculture is being targeted in two ways: the regulation that allows businesses to receive a partial refund of the energy tax on diesel – with a refund of 21.48 cents per liter – is to be abolished. And the exemption of agricultural and forestry vehicles from vehicle tax is also to be abolished.

Farmers’ president Joachim Rukwied has therefore repeatedly harshly opposed the government coalition in recent days. With the plans, the industry would be burdened with an additional one billion euros per year. “That is a declaration of war.” “Enough is enough, too much is too much.” The current government must completely withdraw the “unreasonable proposals”, demanded the farmers’ president, already hinting that otherwise there could be a “very hot January”. “Then, from January 8, we will be everywhere in a way that the country has never experienced before.” (SN, Dec 20, 23)

Mercedes must recall at least 100,000 diesel vehicles by order of the Federal Motor Transport Authority

The Stuttgart-based car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz must once again recall a large number of diesel vehicles to the workshops and fit them with a software update. According to a Mercedes press release, a “low six-figure number” of vehicles in Germany are likely to be affected, i.e. at least 100,000 cars. The affected owners are currently being contacted.  According to the company, the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has ordered the recall. The problem is a so-called thermal window in the exhaust gas purification system, which is switched off at particularly low or high temperatures. This increases the emission of toxic nitrogen oxides. The European approval authorities had considered such systems to be permissible until 2022, Mercedes emphasizes. However, following an ECJ ruling in 2022, which pointed in a different direction, the KBA has “further developed” its legal opinion and has now once again ordered changes to the engine control system.  The European court had ruled that software that allows higher emissions of pollutants than in normal operation for “a predominant part of the year” is generally inadmissible. Mercedes-Benz says that it is in contact with the KBA about the technically complex issues and is cooperating fully with the authority. Software updates are now available in the workshops for almost all vehicle variants of cars registered under the Euro 5 and Euro 6b emissions standards. (SN Dec 21, 2023)

Stuttgart 21, European elections, here’s some important events in Baden-Württemberg coming up in 2024

Starting Epiphany, the start of the Swabian-Alemannic carnival and the jesters have plenty to do again. In addition to street parades, balls, and the children’s carnival, there is also a milestone anniversary on the agenda this season: the Association of Swabian-Alemannic Carnival Guilds (VSAN) will turn 100 years, and according to its President Roland Wehrle, this should be celebrated in style. Right in January, a large carnival gathering is planned in Weingarten in Upper Swabia with more than 10,000 participants. The town of 25,000 inhabitants in the district of Ravensburg will be transformed into a carnival stronghold from January 19 to 21.

Also, the State Garden Show will be held in Wangen im Allgäu in 2024. The large exhibition for garden and plant fans will open its doors on April 26. The organizers are expecting 500,000 visitors by the time it closes on October 6. The agenda includes more than 2000 events over 164 days. Innovative show gardens are one of the focal points. According to the organizers, 3000 extra trees will be planted.

In June, Important votes are due on June 9: Not only the European elections, but also the local elections at the same time, in which the local councils in the 1,101 towns and municipalities and the district councils will be elected. These elections are a test of public opinion, and issues such as migration are likely to have an impact. Things are getting exciting again with the billion-euro Stuttgart 21 rail project. The new railroad station in the state capital is scheduled to open in December 2025. However, Baden-Württemberg’s transport minister recently stated that things could get tight. There should be clarity about the commissioning by June at the latest. This is when the timetable is to be determined. The Stuttgart 21 project stands for the complete reorganization of the Stuttgart rail hub, not just the conversion of the state capital’s main station. New stations, dozens of kilometers of railroad tracks and tunnels, culverts and bridges are being built. Stuttgart 21 should help to significantly reduce travel times on long-distance and regional services. (Stgt Nachrichten, Dec 21)

VfB Stuttgart vs FC Augsburg – How VfB continues their rise

VfB Stuttgart hasn’t been this good for a long time. And the Bundesliga soccer team hasn’t been this much fun for a long time. The 3:0 (2:0) against FC Augsburg was the eleventh win of the season after just 16 games. A club record. Therefore, it was no wonder that the fans in the sold-out stadium were singing about the European Cup after goals from Deniz Undav, Serhou Guirassy and Chris Führich.

The euphoria in Stuttgart is great. As is the self-confidence of the team, which goes into the short winter break in third place in the table. This is referred to as “Swabian madness”. But it is a well-deserved position, as coach Sebastian Hoeneß’s team combines attractive soccer with the necessary efficiency. Even against Augsburg.

In the end, it seemed like a relaxed end to a very successful season for Stuttgart. VfB are celebrating Christmas in a Champions League place – who would have predicted such a high-flying finish last summer? (SN Dec 21, 2023)

Weather in Baden-Württemberg – German Weather Service warns of storm and gale-force winds

Before Christmas, a low-pressure storm will bring windy and changeable weather to Baden-Württemberg. The German Weather Service (DWD) warns of widespread squalls and gale-force winds in the Black Forest. People in the state will have to prepare for continuous rain in some areas until Saturday. According to police headquarters, there were initially no severe weather incidents on Thursday night.

From Thursday to Saturday, the DWD is warning of repeated strong to stormy gusts, including squalls from medium altitudes. On the peaks of the Black Forest, there could also be hurricane-force gusts. The weather service issued warnings of severe weather (level 2) for the whole of Baden-Württemberg on Thursday morning, as well as severe weather (level 3) in parts of the southwest. There may be isolated thunderstorms on Thursday afternoon and evening. (SN Dec 21, 2023)

Closure lifted due to A 81 expansion – traffic will be flowing again between Böblingen and Sindelfingen

Just before Christmas, Böblingen and Sindelfingen are moving a little closer together. The Sindelfinger/Böblinger Straße, which connects the two towns, will be reopened on Friday after being closed for almost five weeks.  The important traffic artery was cut in mid-November. For a short time, it was almost impossible to get through. Only Wolfgang-Brumme-Allee still connected the cities – and the Elefantenbrückle bridge on Goldberg, where passage is strictly forbidden for anything other than buses and bicycles. Leibnizstraße, which connects Böblingen and Sindelfingen under the A81, was also closed.  On Friday, all lanes of Sindelfinger/Böblinger Straße, which acts as a bridge over the A81, are to be reopened to motorized traffic. As part of the A81 expansion, a new, longer bridge had to be built right next to the existing one. It was given the finishing touches during the closure in recent weeks. From Friday, the road will cross the new bridge and the old one will be demolished in the spring.

At least traffic is flowing again. This should please the citizens of the two adjoining towns – and perhaps invite one or two people who were surprised by Christmas to do some last-minute shopping in the neighboring town. The retailers would certainly thank them. Leibnizstrasse is also another connection, which has also been reopened. (SN Dec 21, 2023)