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HANAU, Germany — Barring a change of heart, the U.S. Army will withdraw all of its forces from Hanau by 2012, its local mayor has said.

“This will mean a new chapter and a new challenge for the development of Hanau,” Lord Mayor Claus Kaminsky said in January, when it was announced the 4th Aviation Brigade would leave nearby Fliegerhorst Casern.

So in recognition of its enduring bond with the Army, the city plans to honor at this year’s Bürgerfest the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lived and worked in the area over the past 60 years. A symposium is being organized for the week before, one that’ll chronicle in detail the 60-year relationship between Germans and Americans. And a historical exhibition is being contemplated for 2007 or 2008.

“We may not have this many troops” much longer, said Wolfgang Niebling, spokesman for the U.S. Army Garrison Hessen.

The annual Hanau Bürgerfest is scheduled this year for Sept. 8-11, with the last day set aside for a memorial service marking the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States.

In a Jan. 9 letter to Col. Herman Williams III, Kaminsky informed the garrison commander that this year’s theme would be “Americans in Hanau.” Various exhibitions are planned, including a display of photographs that depict the cultural and social aspects of American life in Hanau.

And throughout the year, Kaminsky wrote, the city “will continue to raise public awareness of the traditionally good relationship between Hanau and its American military community.”

Organizers of the fest have asked the Army for assistance on a number of fronts, from live band performances to the construction of a mobile bridge across the Main. Static displays of World War II vehicles on up through today’s military helicopters also may be part of the mix.

Details of the event are still being worked out, but Niebling said organizers hope that early publicity will lead to a huge turnout, whether someone has strong ties to Hanau or not.

The annual Dragon Boat Race on the Main, for example, is one area where American involvement is needed. A team usually consists of 16 to 18 people, and typically a half-dozen or so boats enter the watery fray.

Niebling said more information will be posted to the military community’s Web site as it becomes available.


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