Consulate General Leipzig conducted a day of strategic outreach in the eastern German state of Thuringia for the first ever German-American Friendship Day, held in Jena, Oct. 6. Despite the far-right Alternative for Germany party winning the largest share of votes in recent elections in Thuringia, the citizens of Jena—a city of 100,000 and home to world-class companies like Carl Zeiss and Jenoptik—showed enthusiasm for engagement with the United States. Activities included a business breakfast with local executives and a panel on doing business in the United States, a discussion on climate change with local high school students, and a bratwurst grilling contest in which the consul general and mayor served Thuringian bratwurst to hundreds of locals. The consulate also arranged for the German opening of a Holocaust remembrance exhibit and a panel on countering antisemitism and Holocaust denial. The day concluded with an evening reception under the stars at a planetarium. During the event, consulate staff and partners took time to pose for a photo (from left, first row): Karola Ammon, Geertje Hündorf, Matthias Dotschkal, Consul General Ken Toko, Lord Mayor of Jena Dr. Thomas Nitzsche, Joel Rubin, (from left, second row) Ulrike Carrillo, Kim Schäler, Katlin Hiller, Franziska Rode, and Consul Lachlyn Soper attended the events. The consulate plans to make German-American Friendship Day an annual event and expand the model to other cities to deepen ties in the region.
Photo by John Self