The Councils Foundation:
September 22, 2003, at Headquarters, Parliamentary Society, Berlin.
Members of Foundation:
Members of Federal Parliament:
Mrs. Dr. Elke Leonhard, Mr. Peter Rauen, Mr. Bernhard Kaster
Members of State Parliament:
Mrs. Elfriede Meurer, Mrs. Monika Fink, Mr. Michael Billen, Mr. Alexander Licht, Mr. Dieter Burgard
Bitburg County Commissioner:
Mr. Roger Graef
Mr. Rudolf Becker, Speicher Area Mayor; Mr. Christoph Holkenbrink, Wittlich Area Mayor
Mrs. Mathilde Weinandy, Prüm City Mayor, Mr. Klaus Rodens, Spangdahlem Town Mayor, Mr. Lothar Herres, Binsfeld Town Mayor,
Further Members of the Foundation:
Dr. Michael Dietzsch, Chairman, Bitburg Brewery Management Committee, Dr. jur. Günther Grün, Attorney at Law, Mr. Ingolf Bermes, Director, Bitburg County Bank, Mr. Helmut Berscheid, Bitburg County Development
Following, please find foundation statements by Dr. Michael Dietzsch and County Commissioner Roger Graef.
Dr. Michael Dietzsch served for 10 years as Chairman of the Host Nation Council, with Commissioner Roger Graef as one of his deputies.
Statement by HNC president Dr. Michael Dietzsch
The establishment of the Host Nation Council Spangdahlem e.V., 2003 goes back to a time when the German-American relationship was at a political low point. Back then, local personalities from Rhineland-Palatinate had a non-partisan meeting about an initiative encouraging an amicable recommencement of the German-American relationship. After all, the Americans had provided Germany with reconstruction aid, with defense and security for 50 years.
Most of the Americans stationed in Germany are located in Rhineland-Palatinate, therefore, it is the region's responsibility to establish a good relationship with the Americans. By founding the Host Nation Council, we were able to gain the support of most villages, districts and cities that surround Spangdahlem Airbase and could therewith get the political backing to provide the Americans with support in many areas, to invite them to special events while they are stationed here and are our guests.
The first event was the invitation to Spangdahlem US Air Force officers to Berlin and to a reception with the Federal Defense Minister. We visited the aviation museum, went to the place where checkpoint Charlie used to be located and we had our first general meeting at the Parliamentary Association. The board and its chairman were elected there and I am proud that this interdisciplinary organization consists of members of the German Parliament, members of the state parliament, our district administrator and the surrounding communities, represented by their mayors.
Our goal is to remind about the help the Americans provided in the 50's and 60's which is especially important for the young people. I personally, belong to the generation that still received American care packages and above all, school meals. This should not be forgotten and we should continue to remind people of this with our amicable relationship with the Americans. Our support enhances their quality of life over here. This might have a final impact on the question which currently concerns the congress in the USA:Where will troop reductions take place? All over the world, the BRAC commission evaluates location density and strength. After the closure of Bitburg Air Base, we are aware of the economic disadvantage caused by the disappearance or the reduction of such an economic factor. This is motivating us as conversion plans as realized in Bitburg won't be possible in the economically underdeveloped region of Spangdahlem Air Base. One should bear in mind that many thousands of marriages took place by young Americans that were stationed here who found young women, married them and took them to the United States to start a family. This fact and to create awareness are tasks of the Host Nation Council aiming to impress the Americans here and in the USA which hopefully influences them to establish their presence here on a permanent basis. It is our mission to maintain the amicable, almost family-like connections because living together with Americans in the Eifel also creates a cultural bridge between the USA and Germany.
Statement by District Administrator Roger Graef
For more than 50 years the Americans have inseparably belonged to our region in the Eifel. They have crucially influenced Eifel culture and life and we want it to stay that way. In 2003, representatives from the economic, political and social sector gathered to advocate the continuation of the Air Base Spangdahlem by emphasizing the importance of the base as an economic factor on one hand and on the other by striving to deepen the already close relationship with our American fellow citizens even more. Therefore, we set up a point of contact on Spangdahlem Air Base to help Americans with daily challenges as well as to offer support to the American leadership in organizing their programs.
„Support an Airman" for example is a program that places young American soldiers with German host families to experience German family life. The HNC also sees itself as a point of contact for young Americans that have to leave their wives and children behind when they get deployed. We want to help these young women with daily challenges by providing them with a German point of contact in the village where they live that can assist them during visits to public offices and with everyday problems.
The American friendship means a lot to me personally since the Americans helped us to rebuild the Federal Republic of Germany, they have accompanied us through all these years and have helped decisively to reunite the Federal Republic with the new federal states. During the Cold War they have helped to retain piece, freedom and security in Europe and in my opinion, the Americans will keep on playing an important role in keeping the peace. We should consider ourselves lucky that we have been able to experience many, many peaceful years under the protective umbrella of the Americans and I hope it will stay like this in the future. Friendship must be continued by the youth, therefore we make an effort placing young Americans with German families to enhance the already existing amicable contacts and to make each American that is leaving the Eifel for the US or anywhere else in world a great ambassador for the Eifel, for the Federal Republic of Germany. Another goal for the HNC is to enhance the already existing friendships with Americans, in the many villages where our American friends live and their coming and going means that we must begin and promote these friendships over and over again.