Friendship club celebrates 20th anniversary

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***The German-American Friendship Association Siegelbach celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. One of the celebration highlights was a concert with the Big Band of Rittersberg High School last weekend. More events are scheduled to follow.

“After I attended English classes from 1979 to 1984, I had the idea to establish a German-American friendship club. And finally, on Jan. 16, 1985 the club was founded,” said Erhard Weber, German president of GAFAS. In the beginning, the club had 13 members and now there are about 150 families, of which two thirds are American members. Up to date, Mr. Weber is leading the group. He recruited many members, Germans and Americans. “I always tried to improve the friendship between the two nations and create a mutual understanding.”

From the beginning on, one of the main club projects are the German and English classes being offered twice a year. There are beginners and advanced classes. “Sometimes we even offer classes for shift-workers or children’s classes,” said Mr. Weber.

“The idea of teaching German and English was the right thing to create a communication link between the U.S. servicemembers stationed here and our local citizens,” said Hans-Peter Schuster, Siegelbach’s mayor.

Besides having the chance to learn the German language, participants of the classes will learn a lot about the German culture, traditions and they will be able to make friends.

***image2***Also, GAFAS offers common activities throughout the year. At the end of each year, the membership board meets to decide on events and trips for the upcoming year.

Members of the group just visited Dresden and in September they will travel to Munich.

Other activities this year include bicycle and walking tours, a picnic, wine-tasting trip, game night and a second anniversary concert. “Hopefully the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band will be able to perform for us Sept. 10. I’m still working on it,” said Mr. Weber.

“Getting to know Germany, its people and its language through the friendship association has been a very rewarding experience, and a lot of fun,” said Anne Smith, the club’s vice president. “We’ve planned some fun get-togethers and our kegel nights are a blast.” Mrs. Smith would like to invite everybody to attend one of their events and to get to know them. For details on events, visit, call Mr. Weber at 06301-8327 or e-mail