The vast majority of Germans opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq, based on public opinion polls this spring.

But whatever the strains were in bilateral relations, especially at the grass-roots level, all of that seems passé now as folks from Munich to Hamburg gear up for the annual weeklong celebration of fellowship.

“The relationship between German citizens and American citizens in Germany has improved,” said James Federline, secretary of the Federation of German-American Clubs. “They have become closer knit since 9/11.”

Since the mid-1980s, early October traditionally has been the period set aside for German-American Friendship Week, culminating with German-American Day on Oct. 6 in the United States.

On this side of the Atlantic, the bicultural federation is once again supporting a palette of local and regional programs intended to further enhance ties. In Germany, the national day of celebration is Oct. 12, though many events will precede it.

Federline wants Americans to know there’ll be plenty of places to go and things to do to mark the occasion.

“You’ll find German-American clubs in any city where there are Americans, plus in the former eastern zone,” Federline said.

At the Keller Theatre in Giessen, for example, the local German-American Club, Die Bruecke, which means “bridge” in English, is sponsoring an Oktoberfest on Oct. 5 that will offer beer and hearty Bavarian food for 6 euros a person.

The federation, consisting of 34 clubs and 5,000 members, chose Bremen as this year’s host for its nationwide celebration. Several events are planned, including an Oct. 12 city hall ceremony to award the General Lucius D. Clay Medal to retired Germany army Gen. Wolfgang Altenburg.

Federline suggests people contact their nearest club for information on local events. For a broader perspective, go to the federation Web site at:

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