American Space Leipzig asked 3 Questions of Scott Riedmann, the new Consul General at the United States Consulate in Leipzig.
Scott, you have served as a diplomat in many places around the world, including in South America and Africa. In the American diplomatic service, you get to make requests for your next posting. What piqued your interest for Germany and Mitteldeutschland?
The U.S. Foreign Service does allow its officers to make requests, but that does not mean they are always fulfilled. The Service sincerly tries to send officer to postings of their choice; however, the rule is that the needs of the Service come first. My interest in Germany and Mitteldeutschland stems from my interest in central Europe. Having served in the Czech Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer and in Prague as a diplomat, I thought serving in Mitteldeutschland would enhance my understanding of former Soviet-block countries and how they adjusted after 1989.
Scott, you have already held hundreds of conversations with students, business people, politicians, community activists, and many other citizens in the region. What topics come up the most? And which topics have you experienced as the most challening for building German-American understanding?
The topics vary depending on the crowd. One topic I am often asked about students and leaders alike is gun ownership in the U.S. I explain that gun ownership is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and that individual states also have their own gun laws. This often leads to a discussion about states‘ rights in the U.S. The U.S. system gives individual states more power to determine their own policies raise revenues than the German system. Despite the setbacks, I find German-American relations to be very good. One issue that can be challenging is connecting with youger Germans. Younger Germans (those born after 1989) have a different experience with and understanding of the U.S. in comparison to those that lived in the GDR times. In order to connect with these two different groups, I need to understand their shared but also different experiences.
Scott, after a long hard day of diplomatic service, what sort of food and drink from Mitteldeutschland do you like to enjoy to relax and recharge?
I am actually a big fan of German food. I kind of grew up on it. My mother is an excellent cook and favors the meat-and-potatos style dishes common to this area of Germany and central Europe. I particularly like the way Rotkohl is prepared here. Marry it up with a nice cut beef and a cold beer, and who wouldn‘t be satisfied. That said, as a man of advancing years, I must temper my love of German cuisine with heavy doses of fruits and vegetables. However, a nice cool (not cold) German beer every now and again is non-negotiable.