Local news translated – Oct 20, 2023

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

Host Nation Update, Oct. 20, 2023

The current COVID situation – is it ok to get out of the house?

COVID measures were lifted by the federal government on April 07, 2023. Since then, there are no more guidelines on what to do if you are infected. Therefore, it is at your own discretion whether you leave the house or not. However, if you are on medical leave, you should behave in a way that does not interfere with your recovery. For example, a walk is not a problem. The situation is different, however, if you were to go to a concert or to a bar. Here, it would always be necessary to weigh up in each individual case to what extent a certain activity is beneficial or counterproductive for recovery. However, if the doctor has ordered strict bed rest, you should stick to it. Exceptions can then be made for visits to the doctor or pharmacy as well as religious services.

Even though there are no longer any official COVID rules, the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) still recommends reducing contacts with other people if you are infected. At the very least, it would be advisable to inform others that you are ill before meeting with them. That way, people can weigh up for themselves whether or not they want to run the risk of infection. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Oct 20)

Construction of Stuttgart 21 – Rows of cranes clear out at the train station

The roof of the new Stuttgart 21 platform hall is gradually being closed. The cranes once used for construction can be dismantled. On Wednesday, a special piece of equipment was used in the process. Time is running out: In just under 26 months, Deutsche Bahn plans to put Stuttgart 21 into operation. However, the area around the current and future train stations is still a large construction site, although, there are increasing signs that the construction work is slowly approaching the home stretch. On Wednesday, another of the large cranes transporting loads during the construction of the platform hall was dismantled.  The fact that the cranes are being removed from their original place of use is also due to the ongoing construction process. The hole in the station ceiling where the now dismantled crane was located can now be closed. At the last meeting of the S-21 steering committee to date in May, the project company in charge of construction expressed confidence that “the complete closure of the roof by the end of 2023” would be feasible.  By the end of the year, the blue pipes that were used to pump out groundwater at the excavation pits and return it to the subsoil elsewhere should have disappeared. For many years, the network of pipes stretched through the valley basin and down to the banks of the Neckar River. (Stgt Nachrichten, Oct 19, 2023)

Baden-Wuerttemberg – Not enough caregivers: “Verdi” Union calls for weekly vigils

The trade union Verdi has called for weekly vigils for daycare centers in BW. Every Thursday starting today, 19 October until Christmas. The motto of the vigil is: “there’s thunder in “Kitas” (child care facilities) – children and employees endangered!” Verdi wants to draw attention to the shortage of skilled workers and the consequences for children as well as for families.  “In the meantime, staffing levels in many daycare centers in Baden-Württemberg have thinned out to such an extent that it is no longer possible to offer parents and children a reliable range of childcare services. The colleagues love their job and therefore suffer particularly from having to make cuts in quality,” said Verdi’s deputy state district leader Hanna Binder. Binder also criticized the so-called trial paragraph in the daycare law for Baden-Württemberg, which was passed in the cabinet on Tuesday. This further aggravates the situation, she said. According to the paragraph, daycare centers are allowed to deviate from staffing requirements under certain conditions, i.e. to reduce the number of educators per group.  According to Verdi, there has been an average shortage of three specialists per daycare center nationwide since the summer of 2021. In Baden-Württemberg, there are well over 10,000 specialists, said Nancy Hehl, union secretary at Verdi. She also referred to forecasts by the Bertelsmann Foundation to which there could be a shortage of about 41,000 educators in daycare centers and elementary schools by 2030. (Stgt Nachrichten, Oct 19, 2023)

Sport lumberjack elite conquers Stuttgart

Back in 2013, the world’s best sports lumberjacks “felled” Stuttgart’s TV tower on the occasion of the Stihl Timbersports World Championship in the state capital. This year, the extreme athletes will repeat this feat – and subsequently, at the beginning of November, they will conquer the Porsche Arena, where sold-out crowds are expected on two World Championship days.  The countdown for the extreme sports highlight of the year is on: On November 3 and 4, the Stihl Timbersports World Championship will come to Stuttgart. Over two action-packed days, sports lumberjacks from more than 20 nations will battle it out for the titles of 2023 team and individual world champions, and the athletes can be sure of a special atmosphere: The organizers expect a total of 13,000 spectators and thus a sold-out Porsche Arena on both evenings. Last tickets are still available via the lottery – more information follows below. In the team competition on Friday, November 3, the best national teams will compete against each other in a knockout system and complete four disciplines per run in a relay format. Meanwhile, at the Individual World Championship on Saturday, November 4, the world’s twelve best sports lumberjacks will compete for the most important title the sport has to offer.  The “men to beat” come from Australia, among other countries. But Team Germany hopes to storm up to the podium with the tailwind of the home crowd: “The fact that the World Championship is taking place in our own country is outstanding and gives each of us an extra push. The nations from overseas are coming to Stuttgart as favorites, which is why we will fill every position in the squad optimally and adapt the routines. We will train even harder for this,” said Tim Anthofer. In addition to the rookie from Rottenburg, team captain Peter Bauer, Danny Martin, Marcel Steinkämper, Christoph Lang and Denny Vielwerth are part of the six-man German squad.  Info: For more information on the Stihl Timbersports World Championship in Stuttgart, please visit the Stihl Timbersports website. Those who would like to be present live at the extreme sports highlight of the year still have the chance to secure the last tickets via the competition for the Stihl Timbersports World Championship. To enter, please register by e-mail with your first and last name, telephone number and home address. Participation is possible until October 27. (Stgt Nachrichten, Oct 20)

Construction work at Schattenring in Stuttgart – B 14 closed in the direction of Leonberg

The renovation of B 14 between Schattenring and Heslacher Tunnel is progressing. The next construction phase begins on October 20. For this, the B-14 will be closed to traffic in the direction of Leonberg/Stuttgart-West from Friday, October 20, until probably mid-November. Originally, work on Schattenring bridge in the opposite direction of travel to Vaihingen was to last until the end of October. Due to the good weather conditions in recent weeks and an optimal construction sequence, this can now be completed earlier than planned. Therefore, the next construction phase on the Schattenring bridge in the direction of Leonberg/S-West can already begin. The Schattenring bridge will therefore be fully closed from this Friday at around 5 a.m. onwards. Traffic can be diverted via the traffic circle, so that no separate detour is necessary. The work is expected to last until mid-November.  Subsequently, the Schattenring bridge in the further course of the federal roads L 1180 and L 1187 in the direction of Leonberg/S-West will be closed until the beginning of December. According to the RP, the overall measure should be completed by the end of the year. (Stgt Nachrichten, Oct 20)

Specter Spectacle with a “German Flavor”

The U.S. Marines have once again invited everyone to the “Trunk or Treat” event at the Panzerkaserne. Two grade levels from the Eichendorff-Schule clearly relished the American Halloween celebration.

BÖBLINGEN – Eerie echoes reverberated through the Panzerkaserne in Böblingen on Thursday afternoon. Blood-smeared faces, witch hats, and grim reapers roamed the streets. Fear not, nothing sinister is afoot – it’s simply October, and that means Halloween is just around the corner. And when it comes to Halloween, nobody – truly, nobody – does it better than Americans. This sentiment was recently echoed by two grade levels at Eichendorff-Schule in Böblingen.

The screams that fill the air are the voices of these spirited teenagers navigating through the “Haunted House,” encountering U.S. Marines lurking in shadowy corners, ready to provide a spine-chilling thrill.

In one corner of the Panzerkaserne, the Marines hosted a “Trunk or Treat” event, a spin on the familiar Halloween tradition where children go from house to house amassing mounds of sweets. Instead of knocking on doors, children here could go from car to car, as the Marines had intricately decorated their trunks and filled them to the brim with confections. One trunk featured a white car with massive cardboard teeth – unmistakably a shark. Upon inquiry, a Marine explained it was the shark from the film “Jaws.” A particularly thoughtful touch: they even added blue balloons to represent the buoys seen in a scene with the shark.

Other trunks resembled small carnival stalls, while one interior was adorned after the video game “Super Mario.” At the back of the courtyard, a few bouncy castles stood somewhat deserted – given the intermittent heavy rain, students sought refuge under the pavilions.

This marked the second time that students from Eichendorff-Schule had the opportunity to participate in the Marines’ “Trunk or Treat” event. “We welcome this close collaboration,” stated Principal Alexander Groß, who also paid a visit to the Panzerkaserne. In the past, the Marines have assisted the school with painting projects, and the school’s head looks forward to furthering the partnership with the Americans. Plans are in motion for lively exchanges between students from the American High School, the elementary school, and Eichendorff-Schule. Groß envisions school festivals, football games, and reciprocal class visits. “Our faculty is eager,” he declared. He is pleased that the interest is mutual: the Americans are committed to building relationships with the people of Böblingen.

For the students of Eichendorff-Schule, anticipation and excitement were palpable as they stood at the entrance of the “Haunted House.” Most were naturally cool and collected – as teenagers tend to be – but for some, the thrill was written all over their faces. One student whispered to her friend, “There’s supposed to be a man with a chainsaw in there, chasing you!”

A soldier stationed in front of the “Haunted House” revealed that compared to last year, the Marines had upped the ante. The volunteer helpers, as per his information, had developed quite a competitive spirit and ramped up the spooky factor – judging by the screams of the teenagers, it had worked.

Approximately 200 Marines are stationed in Böblingen – and Robert A. Gwinner, the Deputy Garrison Commander, estimates that more than half of them participated in preparations for the Halloween festivities. Alongside Colonel Matt Robbins, he paid a visit to the spooky spectacle on Thursday afternoon. “This is a great opportunity to invite Germans onto the Panzerkaserne,” said Matt Robbins about the “Trunk or Treat” event. The Americans intend to continue this in the future, carrying on what Colonel Matthew T. Ziglar, now succeeded by Kirk Alexander, set in motion: “We have several events planned for the coming months, where we also want to invite German citizens,” stated Robert Gwinner. They’re delighted to see that the American Halloween tradition is gaining more significance in Germany. It’s heartening to witness how a certain “German Flavor” is being infused into American Halloween, remarked Colonel Matt Robbins.

However, not everything is delightfully spine-chilling. The military personnel at the Böblingen site are feeling the effects of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Colonel Matt Robbins revealed. Although the Böblingen site is less directly involved in military operations, it serves as a coordination hub for many humanitarian efforts now flowing into the region. The Colonel refrained from giving more details on the situation, instead redirecting focus to the Halloween spectacle in the background. In the face of such geopolitically murky outlooks, a bit of Halloween fun serves as a fitting contrast, the American Colonel opined (20 October 2023 Kreiszeitung Böblinger Bote).

Böblingen: Halloween at the Panzerkaserne

On Thursday, the Eichendorff School students from Böblingen were treated to trunks filled with sweets.

Böblingen. Devil Dogs Street is the name of the street where little ghosts, witches, and zombies frolic. A name couldn’t be more fitting for the place where Halloween will be celebrated on Thursday. However, the street in the Panzerkaserne in Böblingen has nothing to do with Halloween; it is customary among the Marines to name streets after famous individuals or operations. In this case, the name originates from the “Devil Dogs,” a moniker for U.S. soldiers from the First and Second World Wars, explained Staff Sergeant Donato Maffin. “The Germans called the American soldiers this because they believed we fought fiercely and tenaciously. We adopted this term and see it as an honor.”

On this street, whose name harks back to times when Americans and Germans were in conflict, German-American friendship is lived out on Thursday. Students from three classes of the Eichendorff-Schule in Böblingen were invited to celebrate Halloween together with the Americans.

In doing so, they are introduced to a new way of celebrating Halloween that has not yet made its way from the USA: Trunk or Treat. Instead of going from door to door, the children go from trunk to trunk. These are eerily decorated, adorned with vampire fangs, or transformed into a candy forest. The trunks are filled with sweets, which the little spooky monsters eagerly stash into their bags. Trunk or Treat Growing in Popularity

However, Trunk or Treat is relatively new in the USA as well, according to Colonel Matt Robbins, the Deputy Marine Commander, who estimates that Trunk or Treat has been around for about 10 years. “The tradition gives people the opportunity to be creative, and in my opinion, Trunk or Treat makes Halloween more accessible to more people.”

For the second time, German students get a taste of American Halloween. “We welcome the close cooperation with the Marines,” says Principal Alexander Groß, pleased that a joint Halloween is possible again this year. Cooperation with High School Envisioned

A year and a half ago, the Marines painted the interiors of the school. On Valentine’s Day, the Marines distributed “Love Bags,” and since then, until this current Halloween, there have been no further joint activities. However, “I have been striving for two years to cooperate with the High School,” says Alexander Groß, “we would like to establish meeting places, as we consider the exchange between German and American children important.”

What exactly this should look like? The principal has concrete ideas: “The classes can visit each other, American students can read to German students in English, and vice versa.” Attending a football game would also be conceivable for the school principal (19 October 2023 SZBZ).